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by Anna Hanson

As many of you know, Udaya just had another round of filming in Bulgaria. This has been my third trip out to Sofia and more specifically, Nu Boyana Studios. Many of the yogis who have made the trek consider these trips life-changing (myself included), and for good reason! Here are seven things I have learned from shooting in Bulgaria with Udaya:

1. Never consider yourself above anyone else. You have as much to learn from your students or people who you may lead, as they do from you. When we’re filming, often our students are other yoga teachers and even when they’re not, they are fascinating, loving, talented people who have so much to teach us as instructors. I am continually in awe of the incredible people who come on these trips and what I have learned from them.

2. When opportunities come your way, take them. I have yet to meet one person who didn’t come away from these trips a changed person, with new dreams, friends, love, or at least some incredible memories. Life is full of opportunities, but you have to say yes to them in order to reap the rewards.

3. Moving out of your comfort zone is incredibly good for you. Shooting many classes a day, being pushed to your physical limitations, in another country, with some serious jet lag and maybe food, a schedule, or company you’re not accustomed to is difficult. But taking opportunities to work outside your comfort zone not only helps you grow as a person, but teaches you a lot about yourself.

4. Perfectionism is the death of creativity. When you’re teaching so many classes, or taking them for that matter, you are going to make mistakes. You’re going to say the wrong thing or step the wrong foot forward and you know what? It’s okay. It’s important to be forgiving of yourself because you cannot accomplish all of the creative, inspired, and deeper practices of yoga or any creative effort, if the voice inside you is telling you how wrong you are.

5. Go with the flow. Life is going to throw challenges at you over and over again. Some of them will be heart-breaking, some of them will be physically or mentally demanding, some of them won’t make any sense. The key to peace of mind, is allowing yourself to move through those challenges with a sense that by removing your resistance, the pain or difficulty will dissipate that much more quickly. It’s what yogis identify as the practice of non-attachment. Sometimes we are as attached to the good things in our life as we are to the bad moments, believing we will never be able to make it through. See if you can keep breathing, keep stepping one foot in front of the other, and maybe that challenge will seem a tiny bit more approachable.

6. Move with gratitude! That is one of my biggest personal practices. Feel a huge sense of gratitude for yourself, your mind, your body, your spirit, for those around you who support you, for those who have helped you grow, for those people you may never meet, for places you have been or may never go, for the perfection of this planet, this universe. There are an endless number of things to be grateful for and I promise, taking a moment to feel that gratitude will never feel like a waste of time.

7. Take time to laugh, especially at yourself. We are all imperfectly perfect beings. We will never get everything “right” all of the time and that is honestly what makes us perfect. We are not meant to do everything right after the first try! How boring would we be if everything was simple, nothing presented a challenge, and nothing helped us grow? Life doesn’t have to be serious all the time and in fact when it is really serious, wouldn’t it have been nice to have had some good solid joy in your life to counterbalance those difficult times. So laugh off your mistakes, move forward with bliss, and see what you can learn from every experience!

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