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Baron Baptiste’s 3-Step Process to Find Your True North

Getting your body, mind, and heart to agree is easier than you may think. Baron Baptiste says it starts with your feet.

Want to unlock an unexpected world of possibility in your practice—and your life? Then Yoga Journal’s upcoming course The Power of Play Bootcamp is for you. Baron Baptiste—veteran yoga teacher and founder of the Baptiste Institute and Baptiste Foundation—will lead you through four weeks of meditation, asana, and self-inquiry specifically designed to spark awakening and growth. Start the new year with a powerful perspective—and discover how to put it into action.

One of the keys to moving through life with the kind of ease and harmony we all want is being comfortable with yourself. The quality comes easily when your body, heart, and mind align—when you come from center, from your true north.

About 10 years ago I was in a teachers workshop with B.K.S. Iyengar, when he said something that has stayed with me since: “The spiritual heart is located just to the right of the physical heart, and it sits right in the center.” Iyengar’s guidance gave a measurable place for the desires in my heart to join my mental attention and body, then move in one direction simultaneously, creating my true north.

Sometimes asana practice helps illuminate concepts like this. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is the true north of all yoga poses. Let’s break down why that is and how to get there. Finding your center is something we focus on in my new course, The Power of Play Bootcamp. Here are three steps to help you find your true north, in any situation, big or small, easy or difficult.

1. Find and feel your feet.

Focusing on your feet is the first step toward finding your center: Draw your attention to each foot, and feel its contact with the earth. In Mountain Pose, the feet are grounded and activated, a few inches apart. Your feet are like antennas that tune in to the physical universe below, above, and around you. Locating your feet in real time creates a physical “presencing.” It wakes up your whole body and its sensory doorways up to your pelvic core and your centerline—your physical true north.

2. Find and feel your centerline.

Locating your physical center creates the physical container for your mind: Integrate your whole body, from periphery to centerline and drop your attention into your spine. In Mountain Pose, your spine is stacked and relaxed. Your muscles are drawing in toward the bones, and there is a general organization of all physical parts toward your centerline—as if they were notes in an orchestral arrangement.

3. Drop into yourself.

Physical presencing lets you mentally stop, drop into your center, and just be: Notice the ebb and flow of breath, in and out of your chest. In Mountain Pose, the eyes are focused with a calm determination—the drishti is steady, alert, and relaxed. Much like a ballerina’s performance, the pose appears effortless yet dynamic. Through the pose, you are comfortable in your own skin. This space allows for the natural, organic arising of what’s in the heart. You can be open and receive the inner guidance to follow the true north of what matters most to you, and then allow your body and attention move in that direction and manifest what matters most. Sometimes you will lose your center and fall back. When you do, simply begin again, finding Mountain Pose, and again working to restore your true north.

Ready to start your process? Enroll in The Power of Play Bootcamp

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3 Steps to Revolutionize How You Handle Your Next Personal Challenge

Faced with a tough situation? Baron Baptiste says “overcoming” isn’t the way through. Letting it be is.

Want to unlock an unexpected world of possibility in your practice—and your life? Then Yoga Journal’s upcoming course The Power of Play Bootcamp is for you. Baron Baptiste—veteran yoga teacher and founder of the Baptiste Institute and Baptiste Foundation—will lead you through four weeks of meditation, asana, and self-inquiry specifically designed to spark awakening and growth. Start the new year with a powerful perspective—and discover how to put it into action.

I want to share something with you that I’ve learned about handling challenges and painful experiences. In the past, when something difficult came up, I’d focus on overcoming it. But experience has shown me that we never really overcome anything. At different points in my life, when I’ve tried to “overcome” a challenge, all I ended up with was a temporary sense of control. That’s how I learned there was a better way to move forward.

Instead by pausing and acknowledging what I was experiencing, I became able to see some of the heavier, more uncomfortable, hidden aspects of my unresolved past, things that were being triggered in a given situation. By embracing what I was feeling—pain, sadness, fear, resentment, or whatever was there—something unlocked and opened up in me. My energy shifted. It felt like something lifted and let me go.

From there, I found a freedom that let me see an alternative pathway and respond to the same situation differently. My default—and what I sense is the default for most of us—is not to pause and feel the pain and fear—experience what’s there. The default is to gloss over, ignore, or put up with the situation, pretend everything is fine. I always experience a deep fundamental shift in my being when I fully embrace what is underneath. That’s when a release valve opens, and old energy, fears, and pain release me from their grip, at least partially.

Meditation and asana are tools that have supported me in stopping, dropping in, and connecting to my own pain and fear. This is the kind of work we open ourselves up to in my course The Power of Play Bootcamp.

The next time you’re faced with a difficult situation, try these three steps:

1. Become aware.

To become aware, we need to pause. So pause and let yourself feel whatever you feel: pain, fear, resentment, shame, guilt.

2. Acknowledge the situation.

Pay attention to what’s happening. As you witness what arises without any attachment to it, you can begin to experience it letting you go.

3. Let it be.

Imagine the situation as though the universe has been trying to get through to you, but because you’ve got a lot going on in your head and are all bound up with resistance, it’s getting a busy signal. But if you relax and let it all be, another line of communication will suddenly be available for you that will allow grace to get through. Take on the practice of completely relaxing with what is and letting it all be exactly as it is, and as it isn’t. That’s the practice of santosha, in Sanskrit. Can you give up trying to fix yourself, others, and your circumstances? Whatever you want to change, don’t change it. Just let it be, and it will let you be. When we allow things to give us up, we open up a new space in ourselves—and in this new space, vital energy and possibility arise. 

Eager to get going? Enroll in The Power of Play Bootcamp

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What If You Tried These 3 Tips to Grow Into the Best Version of Yourself?

If you want to reach your full potential, Baron Baptiste suggests starting with self-inquiry.

Want to unlock an unexpected world of possibility in your practice—and your life? Then Yoga Journal’s upcoming course The Power of Play Bootcamp is for you. Baron Baptiste—veteran yoga teacher and founder of the Baptiste Institute and Baptiste Foundation—will lead you through four weeks of meditation, asana, and self-inquiry specifically designed to spark awakening and growth. Start the new year with a powerful perspective—and discover how to put it into action.

The act of being open to discovering something you haven’t seen before is the first step in turning your life into something greater. But you have to know where to look. The best place is within. I call this “inquiry,” or svadhyaya in Sanskrit. Your willingness to discover yourself also acknowledges that you haven’t arrived and that there is more to learn. As B.K.S. Iyengar said, “The minute you think you’ve arrived, you get squashed like a bug.”

Inquiry can bring about empowering and permanent shifts in your quality of life, health, and being. That’s the work that we focus on in my new course The Power of Play Bootcamp.

I’ve learned that it’s good to remember that there is always more to learn and more to discover about who I am—my strengths, my gifts, my flaws, my fears, my pain, and my compulsions. I’ve seen that the instant I become filled up with my “knowingness” and know-how about something I tend to get stuck.

Sometimes, too, if you’re anything like me, you might get caught up in self-destructive patterns. But if we can see those patterns clearly for what they are and unlock the unresolved past, then it’s possible for that old energy to disintegrate in the light of our awareness. Then it begins to lose its grip on us and wither away. There is tremendous power in just knowing what is going on within—not so you can “work on your stuff,” but so you can begin to integrate it, shine light on it, heal it, and ultimately release it. If there is something or someone to forgive, you can open up to doing that work in yourself and creating a new way.

3 Ways to Practice Self-Inquiry

1. Be curious.

The next time you find yourself wanting to get out of a yoga pose  because it seems too hard or frustrating or it’s triggering some reaction in you, simply pause, drop into your center, and check in with what’s actually happening. If it’s a physical thing that needs attention or some modification then take that action from a place of awareness. If it’s a mental or emotional issue hooking you in the pose, then don’t act on that emotion right away—be with it. Maybe it has something to teach you. When dealing with mental beliefs that come up in a pose, it can be empowering to ask yourself, What if I just got curious about what I’m experiencing? What could happen if I stayed in the pose instead of darting? By following your curiosity, you bring inquiry to the pose and a whole other dimension to the practice. Wonderment and curiosity are the tools of inquiry that give us access to discovery and new possibility.

2. Be open.

For me, I can see that if I want to continue to grow and discover, I must be malleable. And when I get fixed or rigid in my view and perceptions about life, others, and myself, I experience contraction. To be malleable is to be available for discovery. For example, sometimes when I was in Iyengar’s class and he started speaking, I would go into my default way of listening and immediately think, Oh, I know what he is going to say. Or worse, as soon as he would call a pose, I would tune him out entirely, and move into autopilot and just do the pose the way I already know how to do it. In those moments, I would have to shake myself awake and remember that I showed up on my mat to learn something new. And to learn something new meant I needed to look and listen in new ways. I mean, I was already there on my mat anyway, so why not open myself up, get curious, and perhaps discover something that could possibly change me forever?

3. Be content and unsatisfied.

If you achieve the physical skill and capacity you have been striving for in a pose or in your practice, there’s always another level of discovery available to you. That’s the beauty of yoga: It’s a mountain with no top. That’s where the invaluable process of inquiry comes in. Ask yourself, What crossroad do I find myself in at this point in my practice? What could I do, or not do, in order to open up to something that wants to emerge? This question affirms that the complexity and “never-arriving” quality of the practice is what gives it deeper meaning and bigger possibility. The fact that you can acknowledge you are at a crossroads gives you the energy to get through it. This intersection represents an unfulfilled desire to change your direction. It shows you what you want to put your attention on and what you want to take it off of.

Eager to get going? Enroll in The Power of Play Bootcamp

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Baron Baptiste’s Yoga Sequence for Self-Expression

Try this chest- and heart-opening flow to connect to your authentic Self.

Life is riddled with social rules. Take this biggie, for example: “Don’t talk politics, religion, or money in polite company.” You can always break the rule, but know that if you go there, it may turn confrontational and possibly damage your relationships. Of course, social rules have their place and importance, but living entirely within their limits can restrict the outward expression of your individuality. Worse, they can chip away at the time and energy you spend looking inward, which can cause a serious disconnect from your authentic Self. Eventually that can start to erode your sense of self-worth and the self-confidence it takes to pursue what you believe to be important and right.

The practice offered here was designed by Baron Baptiste to help you counter this common disconnection and feel empowered by what he calls boundless self-expression: “Having the freedom to authentically be and act outside the confines of doing things ‘the right way,’ without feeling limited and bound up by expectations imposed on us by others,” Baptiste explains. “In this free space to express, we enter a realm of self-discovery and new possibility that can alter our lives in very real and tangible ways, both on and off the mat.”

This sequence will engage you in an expanding flow of chest- and heart openers to create space for using principles of “true north alignment.” “On both physical and energetic levels, we are literally opening and releasing the muscles of the chest, which can result in a paradigm shift in how we see life and ourselves,” Baptiste explains. “We can begin to trust ourselves in new ways and make choices that more fully honor ourselves in any situation.” 

See also Get Ready for Liftoff with Baron Baptiste

Learn More
Yoga Journal’s online Master Class program brings the wisdom of world-renowned teachers to your fingertips, offering access to exclusive workshops with a different master teacher every six weeks. In March, Baron Baptiste presents a practice designed to enliven and empower your practice. If you’re ready to get a fresh perspective and maybe even meet a lifelong yoga mentor, sign up for YJ’s year-long membership.

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3 Ways to Harness Your Power & Show Up on the Mat

Baron Baptiste calls every moment a fresh chance to tackle resistance in mind, body and spirit. Here, three simple tips to revolutionize your attitude in your practice.

Want to unlock an unexpected world of possibility in your practice—and your life? Then Yoga Journal’s upcoming course The Power of Play Bootcamp is for you. Baron Baptiste—veteran yoga teacher and founder of the Baptiste Institute and Baptiste Foundation—will lead you through four weeks of meditation, asana, and self-inquiry specifically designed to spark awakening and growth. Start the new year with a powerful perspective—and discover how to put it into action.

There are only two ways we show up on our mat and in life: as a yes or as a no. It’s hard to argue against being a yes. Yes carries the energy of possibility. No carries the energy of resistance. No impedes us or flat out stops us in our tracks. Human beings in general resist so that we don’t have to deal with failure. Rather than risk looking bad, we sacrifice what’s in our heart. No takes the form of excuses, complaints, procrastination, frustration.

But what if you took a look at your resistance, especially if it keeps coming up? I mean really took a look. My new course The Power of Play Bootcamp invites you to dive deep into the areas of your life where you experience resistance, then accept where you are and choose to let your resistance go, with the intention of being open to something bigger in your practice and in your life. If you are willing to do the work, your no might transform to a yes.

You are always in the dance of yes and no. Being a yes for one thing automatically makes you a no for something else. In fact, if you cannot point to what you are saying no to, then your yes means nothing. If you are a yes for peace, you are a no for war. If you are a yes for creating vibrancy and health in your body, you are a no for junk food and doing drugs. If you are a yes for full acceptance in your relationship, you are a no for criticizing and trying to change the person you love. If you are a yes for growth, you are a no for procrastination and stagnation.

Yes expresses your willingness to claim your power and use it to discover the real meaning of commitment. Yes invites you to expand and come into your full creative expression. Yes affirms your willingness to be teachable when you don’t have the know-how to get where you want to go.

Start the work of overcoming what you resist with these three themes from Baptiste Yoga:

1. Believe, and know, you are ready now.

This is it. Not tomorrow, not next week, not someday. Right here, right now. Come from I am ready now to awaken.

2. Give up what you must.

Give up the stories you’ve made up about what’s “true” about your potential. Give up the thought that whatever is happening right now in your body or your life should not be. Give up the judgment, the fear, the anxiety. Whatever you meet unexpectedly is never an interruption of your flow, but rather a part of it. If it distracts and grabs you, simply give it up and begin again, with your yes energy propelling you forward.

3. Be a yes.

Put your attention on what you want to have happen and be for it, fully and absolutely. Resistance often shows up as I don’t feel like doing this right now. So what does it take to be a yes in the space of no? It takes rising above your usual default. Every time you get lulled into your default resistance, remind yourself to be a yes for beginning again. Be a yes for holding nothing back, for answering the higher call at each step, for giving up resistance, for being up for something bigger in your practice and in your life. 

Eager to get going? Enroll in The Power of Play Bootcamp

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The Power of Play: 3 Ways to Overcome What You Resist

Baron Baptiste calls every moment a fresh chance to turn a no into a yes so you can claim your power and be ready for possibility.

Want to unlock an unexpected world of possibility in your practice—and your life? Then Yoga Journal’s upcoming course The Power of Play Bootcamp is for you. Baron Baptiste—veteran yoga teacher and founder of the Baptiste Institute and Baptiste Foundation—will lead you through four weeks of meditation, asana, and self-inquiry specifically designed to spark awakening and growth. Start the new year with a powerful perspective—and discover how to put it into action.

There are only two ways we show up on our mat and in life: as a yes or as a no. It’s hard to argue against being a yes. Yes carries the energy of possibility. No carries the energy of resistance. No impedes us or flat out stops us in our tracks. Human beings in general resist so that we don’t have to deal with failure. Rather than risk looking bad, we sacrifice what’s in our heart. No takes the form of excuses, complaints, procrastination, frustration.

But what if you took a look at your resistance, especially if it keeps coming up? I mean really took a look. My new course The Power of Play Bootcamp invites you to dive deep into the areas of your life where you experience resistance, then accept where you are and choose to let your resistance go, with the intention of being open to something bigger in your practice and in your life. If you are willing to do the work, your no might transform to a yes.

You are always in the dance of yes and no. Being a yes for one thing automatically makes you a no for something else. In fact, if you cannot point to what you are saying no to, then your yes means nothing. If you are a yes for peace, you are a no for war. If you are a yes for creating vibrancy and health in your body, you are a no for junk food and doing drugs. If you are a yes for full acceptance in your relationship, you are a no for criticizing and trying to change the person you love. If you are a yes for growth, you are a no for procrastination and stagnation.

Yes expresses your willingness to claim your power and use it to discover the real meaning of commitment. Yes invites you to expand and come into your full creative expression. Yes affirms your willingness to be teachable when you don’t have the know-how to get where you want to go.

Start the work of overcoming what you resist with these three themes from Baptiste Yoga:

1. Believe, and know, you are ready now.

This is it. Not tomorrow, not next week, not someday. Right here, right now. Come from I am ready now to awaken.

2. Give up what you must.

Give up the stories you’ve made up about what’s “true” about your potential. Give up the thought that whatever is happening right now in your body or your life should not be. Give up the judgment, the fear, the anxiety. Whatever you meet unexpectedly is never an interruption of your flow, but rather a part of it. If it distracts and grabs you, simply give it up and begin again, with your yes energy propelling you forward.

3. Be a yes.

Put your attention on what you want to have happen and be for it, fully and absolutely. Resistance often shows up as I don’t feel like doing this right now. So what does it take to be a yes in the space of no? It takes rising above your usual default. Every time you get lulled into your default resistance, remind yourself to be a yes for beginning again. Be a yes for holding nothing back, for answering the higher call at each step, for giving up resistance, for being up for something bigger in your practice and in your life. 

Eager to get going? Enroll in The Power of Play Bootcamp

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Try These 3 Tips for Accepting the Here & Now for a Week, See What Happens

Want to disrupt complacency or overdrive in your practice or your life? Baron Baptiste offers advice for embracing santosha that can be revolutionary.

Want to unlock an unexpected world of possibility in your practice—and your life? Then Yoga Journal’s upcoming course The Power of Play Bootcamp is for you. Baron Baptiste—veteran yoga teacher and founder of the Baptiste Institute and Baptiste Foundation—will lead you through four weeks of meditation, asana, and self-inquiry specifically designed to spark awakening and growth. Start the new year with a powerful perspective—and discover how to put it into action.

Like you, I’m not always thrilled with everything. But it’s my work to accept what is. Santosha is the ability to be in acceptance with what is, and what is not. It’s a theme we build on and learn from in my new course The Power of Play Bootcamp.

How Santosha Can Be Revolutionary

The clear acknowledgement and acceptance of what is reveals ground zero for growth. Because we are not wired for and have not been trained to do that in the modern world, acknowledging the raw truth of where we are can be revolutionary. Appreciating it is even bigger. That revolution disrupts the complacency or overdrive in our practice—and in our lives—and puts us on a track to new creation, a new way of being.

When we really get the idea that being exactly where we are is the key, that’s when we step outside the box we’ve been in. The pose may not change, but the whole experience of it will change. Our life may not change, but our whole experience of it will. There is so much available to us in whatever form of a pose we take, in whatever shape our life is in, but we can’t access our power unless we stop struggling.

You know when you’re resisting, so try this on. Be straight with yourself here, without judgement. Are you genuinely being where you are, or are you slipping into the energy of no?

I’ve met many people who have faced serious health challenges and crises. Most went through an initial period of being angry, resentful, or even in downright denial—all perfectly understandable reactions. The ones I’ve always been most amazed by get the idea that their resistance is actually causing them greater emotional suffering than the situation itself. Accepting what was going on allowed them to flow with new demands in a much more empowered way. Acceptance is the place from which you empower yourself to generate new results. It has the quality of peace.

3 Ways to Practice Santosha

Here are three tips for practicing santosha. Try them for a week. At the end of the week, notice changes in how you feel about what’s going on around and inside you.

1. Stay

In your yoga practice, commit to staying when it gets tough.

2. Breathe

In the moments of discomfort—when you want to run—stay and breathe. Focus on your inhalations and your exhalations.

3. Let go

Notice what comes up for you when you are uncomfortable. I can’t do this anymore and I’m done are examples. Choose to relate to the conversation in your head as just words, and let them go. You give words their power.

Eager to get going? Enroll in The Power of Play Bootcamp

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