How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Over the past 15 months, I have dealt with such a wide variety of emotions, all due to some pretty big life changes.

While the start of 2017 was phenomenal, it quickly turned into a downward spiral around the time I no longer had a full-time job and could not find a replacement for the next 11 months. Interview after interview, no matter how well I thought it went, I never received an offer. For jobs I did take part-time, it wasn’t sustainable (too long of a drive, pay too low, etc). I allowed this to affect me, falling into a victim mindset of not being good enough, or there was something wrong with me. Along the way, a series of unfortunate hair color jobs happened, and my hair began falling out in clumps, and nothing I did could make it stop (that is for another blog post). On top of that, I felt like an outsider anywhere I went to practice yoga, and I couldn’t find a good community of people to be around.

I don’t say all of this for anyone to feel sorry for me – I say this to show you how easily one can fall into a depressed state when you allow outside circumstances to control your life, and all you want to do is sit around and cry because you feel powerless.

depressed dog funny

Basically how I felt every day in 2017

You would think – after all of the self-help seminars and books I’ve read, this would be impossible to happen. Except – I’m human. And while I a let 2017 get to me, I made a decision at the end of the year – no more.

I am writing this because 1) I am afraid of what people will think of me if they knew I was depressed (so I am making myself write this because that fear is dumb), and 2) I hope that what has helped pull me out of a dark hole can maybe help someone else dealing with some darkness in their life.

So here I am, 4 months after I made the declaration that I was no longer going to be a victim, feeling like a completely different person, crying tears of joy some days because I am just so damn happy.

So how did this happen?

3 Things.

Gratitude. Commitment. Friendship.

It began with a decision to change my mind. And while I had tried to change my thoughts many times last year, nothing ever stuck, and I kept ending back in a downward spiral. Insert:

Friendship + Gratitude + Commitment. I texted my 2 best friends in a group text and said, “Let’s start each day with a text to each other about what we are grateful for, and what our goal for the day is. That way, we can start each day off on the right foot and keep each other accountable.” Over time, we all started doing the Tony Robbins 15 minute gratitude priming practice, which forced us to focus on and really feel gratitude. It also had us visualize what we want in the future, which allowed us to look forward to something in the future + change our beliefs about what we think is possible. (There are days we struggle, so a small text or snap to each other saying what we are struggling about brings advice and positivity from each other). Sometimes I switch up and do 20 minutes of Transcendental meditation, but I always, always, end with gratitude and visualization.
At first, I felt really dumb. I didn’t want my boyfriend to see me doing the Tony Robbins priming exercise, because you have to pump your arms up and down and breathe really loudly. Eventually, he started to join me, and it made the meditation that much more powerful!

How I feel I look Like When Priming

It was really difficult to do at first, and I didn’t really start seeing a change in my mindset the first 3-5 times I did it. Then, I started to allow myself to feel things, like love and gratitude for people and situations. And the visualization at the end was the best part, because I could dream about anything I wanted (like a new job!) and really feel like I already had it!

On top of this, I committed to finding a job, even if it meant working as a personal trainer at a gym full time getting paid pennies. I needed something different than what I was currently doing to force me to learn and grow, and I had to set my ego aside and just. do it.

Once I stopped trying to control everything, everything started to fall into place. I met new people that led to new experiences that will forever have an impact on my life/spirituality/consciousness, I started a business with a new friend, my boyfriend and I’s business started taking off, I started taking on new clients for private yoga/personal training sessions, and I had 3 job offers. To say the least, I was dumbfounded.

Did all of these wonderful things happen just from starting a daily gratitude practice?

I say yes. I spent all of last year resisting uncertainty, trying to hold onto things that I no longer had any place for in my life. I needed to grow, but I wasn’t allowing it to happen. I tried to force my life to be and look a certain way, and when it didn’t happen, I was absolutely miserable. It wasn’t until I gave into uncertainty, agreed to say yes to things I felt uncomfortable doing, and became open to a host of experiences that I initially rejected, that life started to turn around.

Practicing gratitude has taught me that consistently focusing your attention on thoughts that serve you and bring you AND others up, there is no way that you can be down. And when I say practice gratitude – I mean really feeling it. If you have a hard time doing it, just start with one thing. There were days when I repeated the same gratitude thought(s) because I couldn’t think of anything or create that internal feeling of gratitude. Now, I have a gratitude journal that I write in every night, thanking the universe for everything I have right now.

So there it is – nothing too fancy, nothing too hard – just a small shift in mindset to commit to practicing gratitude with my friends everyday.

With everything I’ve struggled with and been through, I hope what has helped me can somehow help others. And for anyone out there who has been through this and made it out alive – what are your tips for getting to a happier place? Leave a comment below, you never know how much 5 minutes of your time could positively impact another person’s life 🙂

Tony Robbins: Unleash the Power Within, Day 3

After 5 hours of sleep on day 1, then leaving the event around 12:30 am on Day 2, we really had to rally to get ourselves & get pumped for another full day. Luckily, day 3 started a little bit later, as Tony & his team knew everyone needed a little bit more sleep. Tony came on stage around 11 am, and we followed along in the workbook until breaking for some more serious emotional work. Day 3 consisted of growth, creating an extraordinary life, figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of different areas of out lives, pillars of progress, breath & meditation work, values & beliefs, and limiting beliefs.

Day 3 was my favorite day, as it forced us to go deep & feel a lot of things & face a lot of fears & let go of limiting beliefs. To start off, Tony talked about 7 areas of constant growth for an extraordinary life:

pyramid of mastery tony robbins

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-tony-robbins-taught-me-life-business-ahmed-muzammil-jamal

We went through and graded ourselves on each area of our life on a scale of 1-10.  This was done in a wheel format, so we could see the imbalances of each area of our lives:

Wheel of Life, Tony Robbins

This is a screeenshot of my “Wheel of Life.” The goal of this exercise was to see where we were happy & thriving in our lives, and what areas we were not. As you can see, my wheel is a little off balance! We were asked, If you were to put this wheel on your car, how well would it work?? Obviously, not very well.

The areas that are the highest-rated (for me) are areas I put a lot of time into. For example – working on friendships & intimate relationships is challenging & important to me, so I devote a lot of time to people. I also work out a lot because I care about my body, and I make time for myself to have fun & bring myself up – so the physical & celebrate area are higher. If I wanted to have a more well-balanced wheel, I would put more time & effort in being more efficient with my time, as well as investing more effort into creating a career that is fulfilling for me.

A few tips given to improve different areas of your life:

  • Celebrate yourself when you do something difficult or something you don’t want to do – this helps speed up your progress!
  • 2 mm rule: the smallest change can make the biggest difference!
  • Train yourself – repetition is key! Devote time everyday to doing small things to work towards improving different areas of your life.
  • If you haven’t mastered something, don’t surround yourself with other people to hold you accountable. Find someone who is a master, and learn from them!

Tony then led us through a breathing technique to increases energy & bring gratitude into our daily lives:

3 sets of 10 (pause in between sets)
Lift arms up & breathe in
lower arms down with elbows in & exhale

A gratitude exercise (takes 5-10 minutes!):
Hands to heart
Think of 3 things you are grateful for – be there in the memory, 1 minute per each event, and really feel it
Feel the energy in you – energy comes in and heals every cell, organ, thought, etc. Visualize energy as a light, coming from the center of the earth, through your body, and up towards the sky. Then, send out to everyone else
Think of 3 things you are going to create. Envision the result, and celebrate inside as if they already happened (1 minute per idea)


After going through all of this, Tony began talking about values and beliefs. They determine and control everything in your life, whether you realize it or not.

Values are the emotional states that we believe are important to either experience or avoid.

Basically, we will always believe and act on our values in attempt to meet our basic needs (of certainty, love, etc).

After talking more about beliefs, we wrote down our top 2 limiting beliefs  (ex: I am not good enough, I’ll never be loved, I don’t deserve happiness, etc). Then, all children aged 10 and under were asked to leave the room. Tony then led the entire room through the Dickens Process. This exercise was incredibly hard, as it forced you to literally feel your deepest fears, and to force you to see what life would be like if you never changed. It was painful, emotional, and really, really difficult. However, it was such an emotional release for me, and it was exactly why I came to the event. It forced me to be incredibly vulnerable, scream, cry, and feel really uncomfortable emotions.

After Tony led us through letting go of our limiting beliefs, he then had us reprogram new beliefs to replace what we let go of. The entire process lasted from 2 pm to 6 pm, and we were standing for almost the entire time. While it was exhausting and hard, it was (for me) the best part of the event!

You might be asking how the heck anyone had any energy after all of this, and here is video proof of what went on to keep us in state of constant alertness and energy:

Basically, there was a dance party every 10-20 minutes. Music was put on, and we had to get up, move our bodies, and interact with the people around us. It forced us to stay alert & keep our moods up so that we couldn’t get into a negative or sleepy state. The psychology of it all made sense, and it was nice that we weren’t just sitting for 18 hours straight taking notes! Also, if you really want to get as much as possible from the event, I recommend committing to going all 3 days & putting 150% in, as there are many times that you will want to lay down or leave! Between jet lag & 4-5 hours of sleep a night and 14-18 hour days, there were many times I needed a break. However, I made a commitment to myself that I could push through – and I did!


After the Dickens process, we were given a break to eat & come back around 7:30/8 pm. The rest of the night consisted of talking about Career Mastery, someone coming on stage and speaking about how Tony’s programs changed his life, and a sales pitch to attend ALL of Tony’s events (Date with Destiny, Business, UPW, Cleanse retreat, etc). They gave a discounted price, and told everyone they could meet with Tony & get a picture with him if they signed up & committed to the programs.

While it all sounded great, it was a lot to process, and it was a lot of money to commit. I understand Tony has a great system, and if that is something you want to throw yourself at full-force, that is awesome. It’s all about where you want to go in your life & what feels right for you! With that being said, I will definitely attend another event in the future, but when it feels right. I went to UPW to experience what I needed, and it was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life.


At the end of the night, we all danced a little more and ended up leaving around 2:30 am. My cousin & I’s flight was scheduled to leave at 12 pm the next day, so we ended up skipping out on the last half day of the event. The good news is, the workbook given provided a LOT of in-depth information on health/energy/food/diet, which I was able to read on the plane. I consider myself a really intuitive, healthy person in great physical shape, so I felt like it was something I could afford to miss out on.

Overall, the event was amazing. It was a completely different experience than anything I’ve done before, and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for growth in their lives!

So that’s it! 52 hours of learning in the span of 3 days, 13 hours of sleep, and 12+ hours of traveling to get to the event – all completely worth it! Has anyone else attended UPW or any other Tony Robbins event? I’d love to hear about your experience! Or, if you are thinking about going, leave a comment below!

Tony Robbins: Unleash the Power Within, Day 2

After an intense 1st day with Tony Robbins, the 2nd day was not as long, and we had a different speaker come on stage: Joseph McClendon III. Joseph comes to talk on day 2 & the final half day, since 3 days of straight talking is too much strain on Tony’s vocal chords.

tony-robbins-event-2016

I liked day 2, as we actually followed along in the workbook that was given to us on Day 1. There was more structure, more laughing, and we actually had a break for dinner! The main things discussed on day 2 were setting individual personal goals, breaking patterns, lasting change, momentum, beliefs, and what we wanted to work towards. We were able to sit down and reflect on a lot of what he talked about, and it was a great way to set up a specific path towards our goals. Below are some of my favorite takeaways:

Neuro-Associative Conditioning: a system that describes the process of change in human beings and is based upon the premise that there are two determining reasons for human behavior:
1) the need to avoid pain and/or
2) the desire to gain pleasure (http://www.sportshealth4u.com/nac.html).

All progress comes from breaking patterns

Joseph talked about NAC as a way to cure phobias & change the way you think, just by associating different emotions with experiences/ideas/people/etc. Basically, program yourself to feel a happy emotion when encountering something you normally fear. This is one way he explained how to do this:

  1. Get leverage: Attach immediate, unbearable pain to not changing, and attach immediate pleasure to things you should do. If you can’t, you MUST
  2. Interrupt the pattern through an immediate change in physiology or thought, and
  3. Create an empowering alternative – celebrate or reward yourself for not continuing a negative pattern!

Example: I want to lose weight. 1) attach unbearable pain like having a heart attack if I don’t change my diet, and attach eating healthy with spending time with your family. 2) Thinking about being overweight, catching yourself & think about how good you will feel when you take action & lose weight. 3) Every time you walk away from a donut or eat something good, give yourself a high five or a pat on the back, or say something nice to yourself!

The driving force & science of momentum

  1. Put yourself in a Peak state – move your body, put on music, do anything to get yourself in a good mood! (or check out my last blog post on how to get motivated)
  2. Find your passion – find what pushes you, what you really want, what drives you in life, what you love, etc.
  3. Decide, Commit, Resolve – decide what it is that you want!
    1. You can pick ANY passion/emotion & CHOOSE to focus on that. Just pick 1 passion & run with it like hell!
  4. Take immediate & consistent action – create a plan, and do little things at a time to work towards it. Consistency is key in following through & being successful in everything you do!
  5. Be honest with yourself – continuously strengthen it, change it based on your end goals and whether it is rewarding to you, reinforce what is working, and continue to take new action

We don’t get what we want – we get what we believe we are.

Joseph and Tony were both very passionate about the same message the entire weekend – Always be aware of what state you are in – mentally – and know that you have the choice to change it at any time. We have all conditioned ourselves to be in a specific state – I call this our “base point” – which is what we will always revert to every time we come down from a high, or up from a low state/emotions. By continuously working towards being aware of what state of mind we are in, we can reprogram ourselves to a higher base state of mind, which in turn will change our beliefs and perception of our lives & every experience we have. 

There are many ways to change your state, but again, consistency is key. Constant diligence of what is going on in your mind & choosing to only put attention to things that uplift you is what will change everything. I swear, I am living proof of this! From being constantly depressed, to now literally living my dream life = it’s all in your thoughts and where you put your focus. All it takes is consistent focus & belief in yourself!

My favorite quote ever is “Have faith in your ability to create” – I never believed that I could create a beautiful life, because I had so much doubt. Belief in yourself changes everything… And if you don’t believe in yourself – always challenge the thoughts that tell you you can’t do something. Because… they are wrong!

tony-robbins-upw-2016-5

Friends I met at a Kyle Cease event 4 years ago… reunited all for the purpose of growth 🙂


Joseph walked everyone through an exercise in the workbook that allowed us to “close the gap” – between where we are, and where we want to be. It gave us the chance to specifically break down steps on how to get to where we want to be (in life, career, relationships, etc), which was surprisingly easy to do!

At the end of day 2, there was more info for those at the event looking to start or improve their business, including the importance of a team & the people you surround yourself with. People’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group – so surround yourself with great people, or people that you look up to!

Find a team that will challenge you, not just support or accept you.

There was a LOT more that was covered, but these were the things that stood out to me the most. I went into this event with no expectations, and a goal of next steps in life/ways to improve my mental state of mind. I also met some pretty incredible people there, including a 75+ year old man who I partnered up with for the first half of Day 2! It just goes to show that there will never be a point in your life that you cannot reinvent yourself or improve upon yourself. Growth is the driving force for purpose, and it never ends.

Next up: Day 3! For me, the most (emotionally) impactful day of the weekend. Stay tuned…

Tony Robbins: Unleash the Power Within, Day 1

This past month, I attended a 3.5 day intense personal-development seminar called Unleash the Power Within, or UPW. UPW is a self-improvement/development seminar run twice a year by Tony Robbins, “designed to help you unlock and unleash the forces inside that can help you break through any limit and create the quality of life you desire.”

I have been wanting to go to one of Tony Robbins seminars for a while now – and while I have never read any of his books or listened to any of his tapes, I listen to his podcasts from time to time and have seen his Ted talk + Netflix documentary “I Am Not your Guru.”

Back in September, my cousin randomly asked if I wanted to go to UPW – without hesitation, I said “Why Not??”. We both researched other people’s experiencespodcasts, blogs, etc. – and decided, based on the positive feedback from all sources, that we needed to go and have our own unique experience. We found a great deal on discounted tickets on craigslist, booked our tickets, found an Air BNB, and were all set for the event! Below is my recap of Day 1 – you can find a recap of the Day 2 here and Day 3 here!

tony-robbins-event-2016

Pre-Event:

You are given a choice of 6 different programs to listen to before the event to get you in the right mindset – free for the first 30 days, then you are charged if you keep longer. Not a bad deal, unless you are like me and travel WAY too much to complete in 30 days & are unable to lug a bunch of CD’s around.

The Ultimate Edge: 21 day audio program. Choose this one for overall improvement.
Mastering Influence: 10 day system. Choose this one to increase your sales and/or influencing others to work with you to create a win/win situation.
Time of Your Life: 10 day system. Choose this one to get more of the results you are really passionate about in less time.
Creating Lasting Change: 10 day program. Choose this one to become a more effective inspirational leader using Tony’s techniques.
Path to Permanent Weight Loss: Choose this one to break through your weight and health issues permanently.
The Ultimate Relationship Program: Choose this one to create a relationship full of both love AND passion.

Based on what you are looking to improve in your life/the main reason for going to the event, you pick 1 program & it is shipped to you pretty quickly. You get to keep the books included, and after 30 days, UPS will pick up from your doorstep, free of charge, when you are ready to send back.

I chose the Ultimate Edge – and while my efforts were well-intentioned, I made it about 3/4 through before having to leave the country & send back. I did get a really good idea of what the seminar would be like, and I did gain a LOT of learnings from what I did complete. I highly recommend taking the time to complete the entire program before the event – it will give you a lot of clarity & make the event easier to digest. (Note to Tony Robbins Team – please make this program available for download on phones – the only CD player I have is in my car!)

You are also given 1 free over-the-phone coaching session. My cousin and I both had very different experiences – her coaching call was very sales-y, and mine was all about a coach breaking down my goals into smaller pieces. While it was interesting & cool to have that done, I was a little confused as to what the actual purpose of the call was for. I thought it would be like a life coach session, where I would be given some direction towards my goals & where to begin.

Fast-forward 2 months, and between coming back from being out of the country for 3 weeks, recovering from jetlag, teaching 3 yoga classes a week on top of my full time job, my bf moving in, and a trip to Florida 3 days before the event, I was obviously ready and not overwhelmed at all before flying out to Cali 😉

With that being said, I recover pretty quickly… and I was SUPER pumped about the trip. I believe everything happens at the exact time it needs to, and everything literally fell into place for me and my cousin. We got free transportation to and from the airport AND the event, and our seats were awesome for the price we paid. It was meant to be!

tony-robbins-upw-2016-2

Day 1 of Unleash the Power Within: Soon-to-be filled arena!

Day 1:

My cousin & I arrived early to grab snacks at a nearby Whole Foods, then waited in line until the doors opened at 10. Once the doors opened, we secured some decent spots  – aisle seats, as you have a little more room to move & easy to leave for bathroom breaks. We both sat on opposite ends of a row, as we wanted to “play full out.”

It is recommended to sit away from people you know when coming to the event, as it’s easier to let go & fully experience the newness/craziness around people you don’t know.

If you sit by people you do know, you are less likely to dance & shout & let go – meaning, you are going to act in a way that fits what someone else might expect of you. Being around strangers allows you to let go & be a different person, at least for the 3-4 days that you are there. You will most likely never see them again… and if you do, you know they are accepting of whatever crazy behavior that happens that weekend! And who wouldn’t want to keep cool new friends like that 🙂

Staff/volunteers came to dance on-stage to pump everyone up… Then, Tony came onto the stage. The first day was all about Tony talking about values, creating our own lives through the power of thought & repetition, leadership, fears, quality of life, how we are the cause of our own suffering, and fulfillment.

We were also led through a 45 minute meditation that literally felt like 4 minutes… then, the firewalk. Tony took about 1.5 hours to get us in a specific, focused state of mind + gave us seven steps to prepare us to walk across hot coals. I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t worried until everyone + Tony kept talking about how dangerous it was! Regardless, Tony did a good job of preparing everyone for the walk. We all removed our shoes around midnight and walked outside  as a huge crowd (10,500 people!). There were 35 rows of hot coals constantly being refreshed with new hot coals once they started to cool down, so you were guaranteed maximum hotness!


**Side note: It seemed a bit cultish with everyone walking outside, clapping their hands in barefeet, and chanting YES. YES. YES…. however, I understand the psychology of getting into a specific state of mind in order to do the impossible & was fully aware of what was going on the entire time.

After the walk, we were free to go home. Unfortunately, the person trying to get a video/pic of me & my cousin walking across the coals didn’t happen… so, being the crazy person I am, we found someone else to take a picture, and went a second time. It’s all about proof of the impossible, right?!

After the chaos, we finally arrived back to our Air BNB, showered, and fell asleep around 2 am … only to get up in 5 hours for day 2! (You can find the recap of day 2 here and Day 3 here!)

Below are a few of my favorite quotes/Takeaways from Tony on Day 1:

Biggest takeaway: Replace Expectations with Appreciation (I cried to a complete stranger about this one!)

Emotions don’t come from life – they come from what you believe about your life.

Suffering = perception of what you think are facts

You can have a thought, but if you don’t believe it, it means nothing

How to end suffering:
1) Appreciate & Enjoy
2) Learn & Grow
3) Love, live, & be grateful

Your worst day is your best day when you find an empowering meaning behind it

The words you attach to your experiences are what you will continue to feel

Who you become when achieving a goal is what creates happiness

Success without fulfillment = the ultimate failure

If you do what you do at the beginning of a relationship (ex: giving without expectation of reciprocation), there will be no end.

Complexity is the enemy of execution. Keep it simple!

Last note – Pitbull came on and talked about his relationship with Tony + living a positive life, then put on a performance. It was a lot of fun, and I loved how the entire day was full of different experiences!

A few other notes from day 1:

Tony tends to get distracted & bounces around from different thoughts/points… most of the time, he is able to come back & finish, but there were a few times he never did.

Be prepared to take a lot of notes! 

There is a lot of dancing. A LOT. A LOT ALOT ALOT ALOT. Every 5-15 minutes, you are up & dancing to really loud music – it was like a non-stop dance party the entire weekend. This is done to get the body moving + keep everyone engaged versus sitting in a chair for 18 hours straight. The psychology of moving while learning = 95% higher retention rate, and motion = emotion. By changing your body, you change your mind.

Bring comfortable shoes & warm clothes. No one is joking when they talk about how cold it gets… I wore a hoodie, yoga pants, tennis shoes, AND I had a blanket to put over my legs. Between the dancing & sitting/cooling down, I felt like I was having hot flashes the entire event!


I know it is a lot of information, but there is a LOT that goes into an event like this. If anyone is interested in personal development, this is an amazing event to push you forward/give you insight on yourself/others/your life/etc. It is an investment, but completely worth it.

I have spent my entire 20’s reading, learning, researching personal development/spiritual development/psychology/power of the mind, and UPW was a nice refresher of everything I have learned thus far, just presented in a different way. However, there are things that we tend to hear and process at the exact time we need it, and there were a lot of impactful lessons/takeways from the event for me.

So no matter how awesome you may think you are, there are always new things you can be learning to help with your personal development, whether it be a book, a person, or Tony Robbins. My best advice would be to keep an open mind & never stop searching. Go after what feels right to you, and never stop, because learning & growth is never-ending.

That’s all I have for day 1! You can  read about Day 2 here and Day 3 here… in the meantime, leave a comment below and let me know what you think! Have you gone to UPW or any other Tony Robbins event? If not, have you ever thought about going?

Finding Your Motivation

Have you ever experienced days, weeks, or even MONTHS where you just.aren’t.motivated?? Yep, we’ve all been there. Procrastination sets in, the internet/social media/netflix distractions become the norm, and we seem to lose sight of where we want to be in life.

So WHY do we let this happen?? Because it’s comfortable. Because it’s safe, and change can be scary. The biggest issue of not moving forward in our lives is FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change… These fears control our lives, whether it is conscious or not. So if you find yourself saying things like “I can’t find the motivation”,  or “I’m not motivated”, this is the perfect time to figure out WHY. Why are you not motivated? Why does it seem like others are go-getters & more successful than you?? Guess what.

Motivation isn’t something that some people are just blessed with – it’s a mindset. It’s a state of being.

And at any time, we have a choice to change our mental state. Some days and moments might seem more difficult to get out of our heads & pump ourselves up, but once we begin to practice being aware of our moods/state of being, it gets easier. By working our mental muscles & pushing ourselves to a new mindset, eventually there is less resistance. Whenever you tell yourself you are tired, or you don’t want to do something – take a step back. Evaluate the thoughts that have been running through your mind, and find a different perspective. Just get out of your head.

motivated

It can seem like a never-ending cycle of feeling great, then feeling low… However, if you find something that works for you and stick with it, you will notice an immediate change in your life. I’ve been through this never-ending cycle, and I get it. However, once I began to implement daily changes, my life began to take a turn for the better. Motivation was not something I waited for – it was a state of being that I could talk myself into, no matter how I was feeling.

Below are a few tips that I’ve put together from my own experience to help YOU or anyone else struggling to get motivated. It’s something I’ve struggled with off & on for most of my adult life, and I know I am not the only one. It might seem a little overwhelming at first, so just read through & take a little time to let it digest. Then… take action 🙂

Repetition

The number one thing that has changed my life is repetition. You know that great feeling of reading a good book, or being inspired by something, then nothing coming from it? It’s because you aren’t constantly focused on it. What I mean is this: we all have a certain mindset or base thoughts that we revert back to at any time. For most people, it’s not consciously known because it is the norm. So, when you have moments of motivation, it tends to be short-lived, because it is not your base mindset. Lucky for you, and for anyone, this can be changed.

By constantly barraging your mind with positive, motivating content, you are essentially replacing your own thoughts or your base mindset with NEW thoughts – all different than what is normally going through your mind on a daily basis.

You can change your base mindset by finding every moment you have free time, and then filling it with new content. Over time, your base mind set will eventually change to a new state – or whatever you have been filling your mind with. Below are a few ways you can accomplish this:

  • Podcasts
    • My current faves are Hay House & The Competitive Edge. I also search for people that are inspiring, or topics that I am currently interested in.
  • Books (on audio, kindle, or a regular old paperback)
  • Internet/Social Media
    • Sometimes I like to read success stories on MDA (who doesn’t like a good story where people end up happier/healthier in the end??) or articles on Elephant Journal. If you are on social media, make sure you are following people/accounts that bring you up/are in line with your goals. Meaning, when you read something, do you feel good or bad? Make your decisions based on what makes YOU feel good – you know what’s best.
  • CD’s
    • Every time I enter my car, I either pop in a Tony Robbins CD or my spanish practice CDs. I RARELY listen to music anymore, unless I am in a really great mood or I feel like my mind needs a quick break (or someone else is in the car!).
  • Be Social
    • Hang out with mentors/people that you look up to/inspire you to be a better person. By communicating & interacting with others that have a mindset you strive to achieve, it automatically lifts you up & puts you in a different mindset.

Find your free time

So you might be telling me, NINA. I HAVE NO FREE TIME. And you know what, I used to say the exact. same. thing. Because honestly, I didn’t think I did either. I had to take a big step back and be honest with myself. Our minds like to trick us – it wants to stay comfortable, so it will come up with any excuse to prevent change.

The first thing you can do is track your time. I spent an entire week tracking my days in 15 minute increments to figure out exactly what I was doing with my time. There are different apps that you can plug your information into, but I created my own spreadsheet and customized it based on my lifestyle. You can access the spreadsheet here if you want to customize/edit to your own schedule. Also – different things are important to different people – personal time to create my yoga classes, study, or read is very important to me – same with meditating 2x a day. So, customize to what is important to you & relevant in your life right now. (Please note that you WILL need to be a little savvy in excel to edit the formulas if you change categories. If you need help, shoot me a note/leave a comment and I can help you out 🙂

how to be more efficient with your time - time tracker

The spreadsheet is filled in with exactly how I spent an entire week this summer – and as you can see above, there were several areas where I could have spent less time on my phone & been more productive during my drive time. By doing a self evaluation of your own time, you will find that there are times throughout your day that you really DO have time – While driving, getting ready, doing housework, etc. Yes, you can pop your headphones in while sweeping the floor or putting on your makeup every morning and listen to a motivating podcast. It’s really that simple.
One last side note – not every week will be the same – however, by tracking your time, you become more aware of where you spend your time, and it helps you become a little more creative with how you can spend your time.

What are your Goals

Unless you have a WHY in your life, there will be no growth or change. And if there are no goals to work towards, then what is the point of even being motivated? Insert your WHY. Below are the areas in your life that you MUST take the time to sit down & create goals for. Whether it be as simple as saving for a weekend trip, or as big as getting yourself out of debt, you need to write down a vision to have something to work towards. It’s a LOT easier to get motivated if there is something you REALLY want – so take a look at the areas below, and take a few moments to get clear on your WHY. Once you have a goal, you have something to work towards!

  • Career – what is your ideal career/what is important to you in a job?
  • Mentally – what is your ideal mood/attitude/mindset?
  • Physical/Health – what is your ideal feeling of overall  health/physique?
  • Relationship(s) – what is your ideal partner/marriage/friendships?
  • Finances – what is your ideal financial situation?
  • Personal – something specific you are working towards (college, a race, etc)
  • Overall – ideally, how do you want to feel every day of your life?

Not Optional

Anytime you aren’t feeling motivated to do something, get it in your mind that the task is NOT optional. Sometimes, when I don’t want to work out, or I reallllly don’t want to meditate, I buckle down and don’t take no for an answer. There are literally no other options except to do this one task. To me, I view these things as something that will benefit me. I know I will feel great or accomplished afterwards, so I look at these tasks like brushing my teeth or taking a shower. It’s something I just have to do.

time tracker

Music

Although I mainly only listen to music while in the shower/creating playlists for my yoga classes now, there are times that I will put on some music to get me going. For example: waking up at 4:30 am every Wednesday to teach yoga = loud music is needed to wake my ass up & puts me in a good mood for class! So for some, music is a way to inspire, get your day started, and get you in a better mood. Find what works for you!

Make a list

The next time you are feeling really motivated, take a look at what you have been doing in your life for the past few days or week. You will begin to correlate certain habits or routines with how you feel. And when you begin to identify the specifics, make a list. For example: When I feel my best, I am working out everyday, giving others compliments, meditating daily, and taking cold showers (seriously, science!). Find the things you do when you feel your best – and if you NEVER feel your best – observe other people and find out what they are doing. It can be something as small as meditating or setting aside 20 minutes of “Me” time a day to decompress. Don’t be afraid to try new things, toss what doesn’t work, and keep what does. Literally no one else knows you as well as you – so have fun & take the time to figure out what gets you going 🙂

Move your body

This is probably the quickest way to get motivated, and there are a few ways to do this:

  • Can’t get out of bed? Literally jump out of bed like someone threw a bucket of ice cold water on you. Jump around a little bit, do a few stretches… You’ll be awake and motivated to keep moving
  • Go workout – if you are having trouble getting motivated to workout, the best thing you can do is get moving. As soon as your body begins to warm up, endorphins will be released, blood flow will increase, and you’ll begin to feel better within the first 5-10 minutes of your workout.
  • If you are feeling sluggish at any point in your day, get up and move. Jump up and down a few times, do a few push ups, or maybe a few jumping jacks. Physical movement releases endorphins, and it reduces stress hormones in your body. It literally changes your brain! If you don’t want people seeing you do push ups at your desk, go in a conference room – no one will ever know 🙂
  • Moving Meditation – this is actually one of my favorite things to do! While out on a run, I’ll create a mantra or a saying and repeat it non-stop:
    • “I have unlimited energy”
    • “Every breath & every step, I have more & more energy”
    • “My body is in perfect alignment”
    • “My body is a fucking machine!”
    • “I can do anything!”
  • Sometimes I will repeat a mantra for 20 minutes or more, doing nothing but staring straight in front of me as I run until I start to FEEL whatever statement I am saying is true. When you combine a clear intention with an elevated emotion, it becomes a new belief/memory much quicker. Moving your body elicits an emotional & physical response, so movement works wayyy better than just standing in front of you mirror and saying affirmations over & over again. As silly or crazy or corny as it sounds, just try it. I swear, it is crazy how well this works – I noticed a HUGE increase in energy every day once I started doing this. You can also say statements about other areas about your life, like feeling confident, finances, whatever… It’s all about focusing & repeating until you feel that elevated emotion

will smith dance

Personal Development

I am a firm believer that depression & unhappiness in your life is caused by becoming comfortable. Stagnation happens when we work 9-5, come home, watch tv, and repeat, 5 days a week. Life is easy, but it isn’t challenging. Yet, we aren’t happy, even though we have everything we THINK we want. Insert: Personal development. By continuously learning new things, we are challenging ourselves, stimulating different parts of our brain, and creating new neuro-pathways. By finding ways to push ourselves & get out of our comfort zones, motivation is something that comes very easily – especially when it’s something that is cool or different than what is currently happening in your life. There are a few ways that I pursue personal development:

  • Travel solo around the world (Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it opens your mind to new people, ideas, places, etc. Yes, you should do it)
  • Take various Yoga workshops to become a better yoga teacher
  • Randomly bought a guitar & have been teaching myself to play (literally spend hours banging away on this thing… it is no easy task to learn an instrument!)
  • Go to personal development workshops – I’ve been to a Kyle Cease weekend workshop, and am attending a Tony Robbins event in November
  • Meditation Workshops
  • Cooking classes (Yes, I go alone. No, it’s not awkward)
  • Read. Apply what you’ve read to your life. Repeat.

Personal development can mean different things to different people – it can be changing how you think, going to seminars, going back to school, learning a new skill, etc. If you don’t know what you want to work on, try anything. Seriously – you could take a class on how to cook with different cheeses, or even learning how to juggle! As long as you are getting out of your everyday mindset, you are stimulating your brain in new ways.

So that’s it! (for right now!) There are so many more ways to get motivated, but these are the ways that are most influential in my life at the moment. I’ve spent my entire 20’s reading, learning, searching for ways to change my life, get motivated, and better myself. However, it’s been a struggle being able to translate & communicate everything I have learned in a way that makes sense to me and to others. Teaching yoga for the past 1.5 years has helped boost my confidence, and has challenged me to learn how to express myself more openly so others can understand me.

I want to be able share my journey with others, in the hopes that it helps anyone who comes across my blog.

Just like anyone else, I’ve been through a lot of struggles in my life, and I know what that feels like.

So if I can make life a little bit easier for just one person, or my writings can get someone to think a little differently about themselves/their life, then my goal is complete 🙂

As always, thanks for making it all the way to the bottom… If there are any other really great tips for getting motivated that I missed, leave a comment below!

-Nina Elise

Top 13 Tips for New Yoga Teachers

It’s been over a year since I taught my first-ever yoga class, and while I don’t consider myself a tenured teacher by any means, I have learned A LOT in my first year of teaching. When I went into training, I had so many fears and concerns, along with an infinite amount of questions… What do I expect? What do I do if XXX happens? How do I create a sequence? When do the nerves go away? What type of style will I teach? Will people come to my classes?

I was absolutely terrified to teach, and I spent the first few months just getting comfortable leading an hour long class (I only taught 1 class a week, so more time spent teaching = the faster you will become comfortable). With all of this being said, yes, I still get nervous, but my mindset has transformed so much with experience. I now teach 3 classes/week, and my style of teaching has even changed along the way.

new yoga teachers

For the past year, I have spent hours and hours and days and weeks consuming so much more information, learning, taking workshops, and gaining a lot more experience & confidence teaching. With everything I have learned, I wanted to share with others who may be in the position I was 1-2 years ago: new, scared, and needing advice on being a beginner yoga teacher (or any type of fitness instructor)! So, below is a list of the top things I have learned in the past year!

Tips for New Yoga Teachers

1. Preparing your sequence/classes

At first, this was one of the hardest part of teaching a class (at least for me!). I memorized every single one of my classes every week, and was always worried about making the perfect sequence. I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I was always looking for ways to make my classes creative. As the months went by, if I ever felt uninspired, I would look on instagram, pinterest, take a yoga class, travel to other cities & take classes from new yoga teachers/fitness instructors, take workshops, or go through a yoga pose book (check the end of this post for more yoga book recommendations!) to get the creative juices flowing (and I still do this!).

It also helps to have a format for your class – I normally set 20 minutes for warmup/Sun salutations, 20 minutes for my main sequence, and 20 minutes for core/backbends/stretching. I’m a planner, so structure for me is key. I do go off the cuff almost every class now & am starting to plan my classes a little differently, but starting out, this was so incredibly helpful in remembering my classes.

creating yoga classes new yoga teacher

How I prep for my classes: thoughts on paper, ideas written throughout the day… then written in my yoga class journal book!

Some people can just walk into a class & teach an entire class, with little to no planning. Personally, that is NOT me. I make sure I am prepared, not only because I am still learning & becoming comfortable with teaching, but also because it helps me relay more info to my students.

My main goal is to have every student walk out of class having  learned/heard/understood something new – and by doing my own research before class + studying the anatomy & benefits of poses, I can accomplish this.

With that being said, every person is different – I like structure, so that is how I plan my classes! I would say I spend anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours planning my classes, depending on what I’m teaching – this includes research (on something new I’m learning), memorizing new sanskrit, putting together a sequence, practicing the class at my house, and creating something for social media to promote my classes.
***One last thing about planning classes – I bought a journal when I first started teaching to write my final sequence/class in for every.single.class. I carry this with me EVERYWHERE. I can reflect back on old classes, and write down ideas when I get them. Make sure to invest in a good one! I bought mine from Target for $6.

2. Teach it how you feel it

A few months ago, someone said to me, “You teach how you feel it in your body” – and ever since then, I’ve spent less time in my head, and more time in my body. I’ll throw on some music, and get on my mat. My most creative sequences have been created after a long day of work, and my body will just move in a way that feels good to me. I take that time to observe myself & write down yoga poses/shapes/connections/sequences, which makes teaching class more authentic to me AND more fun!

Feel it in your body, and teach what feels right to you. It is you and your practice that makes you unique!

If this is all still new to you, perfect. You are a blank slate and can learn & grow the more you progress in your own practice. No one else could ever mirror that, even if they tried. Allow yourself to think outside the box, add in your favorite poses, anything that speaks to you!


This includes mentally, emotionally, spiritually – read a passage from a book that you really like, a quote that you love, your life mantra, a life experience, or even giving adjustments that that you love getting in your own practice. Start realizing there is so much inside of you that needs to be shared – everything you know & have experienced in your life can help someone else!

Nina Elise yoga

3. Mood/energy of teacher

Personally, I think this is the most important part of the practice – there is no other option but to be positive & present for your students. They are taking time out of their day to spend it with you, and it is your job to make it the best experience for them! The last thing they want is to take a class from a low-energy, negative person.
I meditate for 20 minutes before every class – and if I don’t have time for 20 minutes, I spend 5 minutes doing some sort of pranayama breath (box breathing is my favorite!). This calms me down & centers me, putting me in a better place to be more receptive & intuitive to my students. If I’m feeling REALLY tired (hello, I teach 5:30 & 8 am classes!), I’ll put on pump-up music during my drive to class in order to get my energy up. Or, just listening to your class playlist will get you in the right mindset/vibe for your class. Regardless of how you do it, find any way to get yourself ready for class!

4. Be personal

Some of my favorite teachers are the ones who are personal. You know, the ones that take the time to chat with you before & after class, seem to genuinely care about you, and remember small details.

Be compassionate & caring towards your students – everyone likes to feel good, and the best way to do that is to make them feel special.

Make an effort to remember all of your students names, their injuries, goals, lives. Learn more about them so you can be accommodating -are they sensitive to scents? do they like to be adjusted? are they nursing an injury? – this will make them more comfortable during class & feel understood! Look for the traits you admire in your favorite yoga teacher, and bring those to your own class.

5. Cuing

This is something that will come with time. Finding the correct words to move people’s bodies, as well as the actual yoga pose names can’t exactly learned overnight. When I first started teaching, I would practice on my friend beforehand, and she would give me feedback on what cues she liked or didn’t think made sense. I also started paying more attention to the words other teachers used while I took their classes, then practiced speaking them out loud when practicing my sequences so I felt comfortable saying them in class.
When I first got my certification, I knew basic cues & spit them out regardless of what my students looked like. With practice, I now look to my students for cues. After teaching for a while, you learn what to look for, so you don’t need to say every single alignment cue every time. Constant studying & attending workshops to learn more about anatomy, alignment, etc is key in giving you the knowledge & confidence to cue better. As a new teacher, be patient with yourself… this gets A LOT easier over time!

yoga handstand workshop

6. Music

Music is something personal that took me a while to really connect with my classes. Some people don’t like music in their classes, and that is ok! However, I love a good playlist while taking a class and teaching – it adds to the energy & mood of the class, and you can sync up movements to each song. At first, I thought I needed high-energy, popular music in my classes. Over time, I realized that my style of teaching was much, much more chill AND slow – so my music has changed over time to match.


I personally recommend using Spotify – it’s $9.99/month for unlimited songs, and you can create an unlimited amount of playlists. I find playlists from other yoga teachers, or browse through different playlists/radio stations & listen to them all day. When I hear a song that I like, I add it to my playlist for the week.
Once I reach 1 hour on the playlist, I go in and move songs around based on my sequence (slow in the beginning, a little faster in the middle, and slower/chill at the end). Some people just have a bunch of playlists they use over & over, but I prefer to make a brand new one every week. If you are looking for any ideas, you can follow me on Spotify – search for Nina Hunt 🙂

7. Space

Lighting may or may not be something you can control, but lighting can make a huge difference. It can set the mood, change your focus… I teach in a dark room, which gives the practice a more relaxed feel – it also allows students to move with more confidence, as no one else can see you!

Smells – this might sound a little weird, but the smell of your class can make a class really great or really bad. People tend to associate smells with experiences, so by having a pleasant-smelling place to teach is critical (no one wants to come back to a sweaty, stinky place!). I burn incense during my class (sets the tone, relaxes students), and the studio gives out cold towels with eucalyptus oil on them during savasana (relaxes students, opens up sinuses, smells amazing). Some of my friends actually put essential oils on their students during class, so test out a few ways to incorporate scents into your class and see what works best for you!

brewery yoga class

8. Challenging

Don’t be afraid to try harder/challenging poses in classes! I prep my students for each “difficult” pose & encourage them to try, no matter how much they think they can’t do the pose.

Believe in your students, build them up, and allow them to explore an unfamiliar space.

Just make sure you are able to do the pose to some degree before you teach it – your students will take you more seriously, because you don’t just know the cues – you also know exactly how it feels in the body.

9. Have FUN

Crack a joke. If you don’t know one, then look one up & tell it during class! People respond to humor, and it makes them feel more relaxed. I like to tell a joke every once in a while to break the tension/seriousness of class – best done when brows are furrowed, and breathing gets heavy, which are all cues that students need to get out of their heads!
Also – mess up. I think it took me over a month before I finally messed up – I cued the wrong leg and was mortified – except, guess what – no one cared. Now, I freely mess up, say oops, laugh, and move on. Don’t be afraid to mess up, that is when you learn the most & appear more human to your students 🙂

yoga teacher training ohio

10. Continuous education

At least once a month, I take a workshop from a traveling yoga teacher, go to a meditation/self improvement seminar, or travel somewhere to add to my yoga brain bank. It can get expensive, but I consider it all an investment not just for my personal development or career, but for my students. I want to continue learning in order to produce new & creative classes for my students! If I don’t learn, how will my students ever improve? Life is about learning, growing, ingenuity, and constantly seeking out ways to get out of your comfort zone. If you won’t do this for yourself, who will?

Be passionate about what you do, it will show up not just in your classes, but in all areas of your life.

dharma mittra yoga nyc

11. Authenticity

Be yourself. This is was hardest for me, as i was so focused on not messing up in the beginning. I’m naturally an introvert AND a perfectionist, which means I am pretty closed off & hate failing… meaning, I’ve had to work HARD to let go & be vulnerable while teaching. All of my teachers/mentors gave me a LOT of tough love – while they meant well, it was something I had to process and develop in my own time, which I’m STILL doing now!
This is your journey, and you are the only one that can control how you present yourself. People can try to help you, give you advice, tell you how to teach, give you tough love.. but ultimately, you are the only one that knows who you are. So take your time, and allow yourself to unfold.

Regardless, you are doing the best you can with what you know.

So just breathe, and know that coming out of your shell will take time. The more you teach, the more your personality will begin to come out. Being authentic means something different to each person, so spend the time making sure the best “you” comes through.

12. the WHY

At the end of the day, when teaching becomes a bore, or training gets hard, or you just feel like you need a break from ALL THINGS YOGA (yes, it happens to me!!), you must always have your “Why” in the back of your pocket to keep you motivated. Why do you teach? Why yoga? The answer to this is what will determine your mindset. It can be a person, it can be a goal, a life purpose.. it doesn’t even have to be something that can be put into words! But before you go any farther in this journey – ask yourself WHY.
Check out the 3rd question on Brian Drury’s Questionnaire here if you need a little help coming up with your Why.

13. Patience

Be patient with yourself! Everyone learns differently, teaches differently, thinks differently.. Some are busy with a family and a have full time job, while others might devote their entire lives to teaching yoga. Go at your own pace, and know that you will progress & grow over time. No one ever became an expert in their field overnight, right? It would be impossible.

When I began teaching, I wrote out every cue, every pose, every transition for every.single.class.

I was so nervous I would forget something and mess up! Now, while I still plan my sequence, it’s more of a general idea, and I deviate from what I write down. It takes time & experience teaching a lot of classes in order to feel more comfortable. So go slow, go fast, go at whatever speed works for you at this point in your life. But most of all, be patient <3

the class nyc

If this all seems overwhelming… welcome to the club! The best thing you can do is focus on one thing at a time, or even just integrating a few things here & there the more you teach. I can’t even tell you how nervous I was when I first began teaching – I had nightmares the first month (no joke – and I only taught 1 class a week!), and it was such a relief when my class was over. Now… I sleep well, and only have a small amount of nerves 😉
We’ve all started from scratch, having to learn & grow. Give yourself time, and enjoy the process. Use this as a time to not only help others, but also to grow & learn more about yourself.

Put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. Because, you will be.

You’ll want to rush through it all, but, I’m here to tell you – don’t. Soak up every single moment and enjoy every bit of the learning process. You’ll look back and be so incredibly proud of your progress, realizing that you needed to go through the scary stuff to get exactly where you needed to be.

y7 nyc

I hope this VERY LONG blog post has been very helpful for anyone starting on their yoga teaching journey. If you are just starting out, what are some of your concerns/fears about becoming a yoga teacher? And if you are already a teacher/fitness instructor, what are a few things that you would add to the list? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!


Below are a few of my favorite books/resources I’ve purchased & used for creating classes & workshops since my Yoga Teacher training:

Check out a list of my favorite books & current reads here – i use a lot of philosophy & concepts from these books & integrate them into my dharma talks at the beginning of my yoga classes.

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