Thursday, March 31, 2016

What is Holding you Back? (or Little Frog, Me, and Lots of Love and Yoga at the White House)

What is Holding you Back? 
(or Little Frog, Me, and Lots of Love and Yoga at the White House)

Catherine Cook-Cottone
The Yoga Bag

What is holding you back?


First things first. What do you want out of this one beautiful and precious life that you have? This is your I WILL list.

Answer fully. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Make a list.

Now. What is holding you back? This is your list of WHY NOTS. It is very important.

Answer fully. Make a list.

Now, take your WHY NOT list. Crumple it up and throw it away.


You are ready NOW. Take your I WILL list and begin! NOW!

When I was in my 20s, I noticed that those who were up to big, gigantic things spent more time making their dreams happen than making lists of why they couldn’t make things happen. We all have WHY NOT lists. And- you have a choice. You can walk around with your WHY NOT list as your guiding set of principles or you can lift your head and look your I WILL list right in the eyes and make things happen.

This might sound morbid, but I am not leaving this Earth with a list of WHY NOTS in my hands. Nope, like my daughter told me a few months ago, “Mom, when you die, you are going to drop the mic!” It was one of the biggest compliments I have ever received! She is 100% correct.

I had the tremendous honor to live Bucket List Dreams on Monday, March 28th, 2016.

I was one among a group of fabulous, inspirational, fun, and full-of-love yoga teachers that taught yoga at the White House for the White House Easter Egg Roll (called WHEER). We yoga-partied for 13 hours straight. It was one of the best days of my life. And- it all happened because I took my list of WHY NOTS, crumpled it up, and said, “YES!” about 100 different times, to 100 different things, that led to that moment. 

When I think back to the stuff that has held me back, my WHY NOTS, the periods of self-sabotage and self-destruction, I know the root cause- FEAR.

My WHY NOTS represent all kinds of fear. I have been afraid that I was not good enough, funny enough, pretty enough, talented enough, smart enough, cool enough, loveable enough, kind enough, --- all of the enoughs. I could never measure up. So- the good life, the living your dreams life- that was for someone else- someone who was enough. I thought.

I found the anecdote to my WHY NOTS, self doubt, and fear. It is in the pages of one of my mother’s favorite books, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. 

“Jonathan,” he said, and these were the last word he spoke, “keep working on love.” 

Those words are my guideposts. Whenever I get in my WHY NOTS of doubt and fear, I say, “Catherine, keep working on love.” Then I look up, and I WILL myself. I will myself into the moment.  I will myself to be present. I will myself to be curious. I will myself to be in effort. And most of all, I will myself to be in the work of love.

You see, in my fears I was somewhat correct. There was a not-enough in there. There was not-enough love. 

Now! That, I could change. That was on me. And so I did. To this very day, I keep working on love which takes me to all of my I WILLS and away from all of my WHY NOTS.

I wanted the children I taught on the White House to know about love and fear and being enough. So, I taught this sequence. It is a story of a little frog Tadasana, who was afraid to love. 

Little Frog Sequence

You see there is a lake in the Adirondacks called Brantingham Lake.

There are big beautiful mountains!

- Mountain Pose

There are trees!

- Tree Pose

 And the sun shines over the lake! And it feels so good to do my morning stretches and feel the sun!

- Stretch Up Reach for the Sky
- Sun As

At the lake we like to Swim and Canoe.

- Boat Pose with Paddling
- Rock and Roll to Stand Up

There are dragon flies that hover over the water.

- Airplane- Both Sides

And frogs!

- Squat and Hop All Around

Stand up and feel your heart. Feel all of the love in there? I want you to meet Tadasana Frog. She has love in her heart too, but she is struggling to make friends because she is afraid. She is so afraid, that her love doesn’t show. No one can see it. Has anyone here ever been afraid? Raise your hands? Will you guys go with Tadasana to warrior school so she can learn how to love without fear? (Thanks Corrie for being my Tadasana).  

Let’s go! Hop like a frog to warrior frog school.

-Hop Like a Frog

We have to paddle over the lake!

-Boat and Paddle

Past the fireflies!

-Airplane Both Sides

Here we are!

Do warrior one! And say, “I am strong!”

Same other side, “I am strong!”

Do warrior one! And say, “I am brave!”
Same other side, “I am brave!”

Do warrior one! And say, “I am love!”
Same other side, “I am love!”

Breath in strong and breathe out worries.
Breathe in brave and breathe out worries.
Breathe in love and breathe out worries.

Now, Let's go with Tadasana with her big strong courageous heart and head back to the lake.

-Hop Like a Frog!

We have to paddle over the lake!

-Boat and Paddle

Past the fireflies!

-Airplane Both Sides

And let’s have a giant frog celebration! Join hands and make a tunnel!

All the graduates of Warrior School run thought the tunnel!

(And we all danced, and danced, and danced)….

So thank you Leah Cullis for organizing this wonderful day! Thank you lululemon for supporting this venture!

Thank you LOVE and I WILL for being bigger than my FEAR and my WHY NOTS.

And thank you wonderful life, I love you!


Catherine Cook-Cottone
The Yoga Bag