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Creating your Daily Routine

with Yoga Teacher, Brittanie Shey

Meet Brittanie Shey...

Brittanie is a collage of countries, hobbies and careers that together make up a passionate woman, who with dedication, follows a daily routine of yoga and writing. Her hometown is Houston, Texas, one of the largest and most diverse cities in the United States, where she worked as an editor in a newspaper and where she also took her first steps towards becoming a yoga instructor.

Once married, she followed her husband throughout the globe, discovering during this time that her two most favourite passions were crucial in creating stability amidst the challenges of new and foreign cultures. Yoga and writing became Brittanie’s daily empowerment and inspiration to which she now dedicates much passion and dedication. Studio 191 would like to share Brittanie’s views and advice to all students seeking or struggling with creating a daily routine out of their passions. 

When and why did you begin your daily routine of yoga and writing?

Brittanie Shey: Oh my Gosh, so I’ve been writing every morning, three pages every morning, since probably 2005 or 2006. So I read a book by called The Writer’s Way by Julia Cameron and in the book she talks about creating a morning practice and she refers to it as the morning pages: it’s three pages of longhand writing every single morning and it’s meant to be a brain dump, to just get everything out, it’s not supposed to be a journal or anything like that, it’s supposed to be brain dump first thing in the morning. It was probably around 2010 that I started practicing yoga as a daily practice. I took my first yoga class in college, maybe in 1998, and I practiced on and off; my practice had ebbed and flowed, basically, from the time I was in college to the time I was a professional and at that point in time, in 2010, I had a really really stressful job and I just needed something to take the stress out of my life. I went to a yoga studio in Houston and they were offering a 40 day challenge, so I practiced 40 days in a row. That was the beginning of developing my daily yoga practice.

Did all your travelling and moving lead you to seek these routines?

BS: Yeah for sure! So one of the greatest things that yoga has given me is the knowledge that it’s something that I can take with me anywhere, I can practice it anywhere, on vacation, when I’m travelling. And then the other thing that has helped me a lot is that yoga has been very instrumental in allowing me to be comfortable with uncertainty, so in the midst of a move or in the midst of upheaval in my life I always had my yoga practice to let me know that I have the skills to deal with whatever life throws at me, whether that’s illness, uncertainty, moving, or not knowing somebody. Yoga has been a gift to me in that sense. 

What were the hardest obstacles in the path to creating these routines?

BS: Oh my gosh! I remember one time I was in this yoga class and I had this great breakthrough because we were talking about integrity and I’m a person who really values integrity. When I make a commitment to somebody else, I keep that commitment, even if I have to make adjustments to that commitment; I’m very devoted to keeping commitments to other people. What I have a struggle with is keeping commitments to myself. So making yoga a daily practice and keeping the commitment I made to myself to practice daily, has been the biggest struggle. I feel set up for that though because I already had a daily writing practice, so it’s easy to do. When talking about building habits, when the experts talk about it, they talk about having an entry habit, so like every morning when you brush your teeth, that thing that you already do everyday can be the entry habit to another habit. So for me my entry habit was journaling. So my morning routine as I get up is: I write in my journal, meditate, walk the dog and go to yoga. 

Do you think your yoga and writing complement each other?

BS: Yeah, i read another (another book recommendation!) book called Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. She is a Zen Buddhist meditator for 20 to 30 years and the book just came out, they either had their 20 or 25th anniversary of the book. In that book she writes about her own writing practice as being akin to her meditation practice. So it’s just something you show up for and you complete and you don’t have to be attached to results of it. So for me, when I do the morning pages, three pages every morning, it’s not about writing a story or writing about the events of the previous day, it’s just about writing out three pages. And for the most part I don’t even go back to read them, so I’m not attached to the results of my writing and by the same token I’m not so—-this is not entirely true—I’m not entirely attached, or at least I try not to be, to the results of my yoga practice. I try to practice for practice sake and for the benefits that having a daily routine gives me.

What have you found to be the benefits of having a daily routine for personal development?

BS: I just think that—and everybody is different—but my personality is that I’m a person that craves structure, which is also part of why yoga has helped me to be more comfortable with discomfort and to be comfortable with uncertainty. It has been helpful, because I don’t like uncertainty. I like routine and structure in my life and so yoga has provided that routine and structure to me, while also providing me the skills to deal with when routine and structure are not present. What pose most frequently shows up in your routine and why? I really like balancing poses. I was trying to think of one specific pose that I love and I can’t come up with one. But the poses, what they all have in common, is that they are all balancing poses. So I love bakasana (crow), I love half-moon pose (I really love it’s hip opening aspect), I love headstand, I love practicing on the surf/Indo boards and on the SUP boards: and all of those practices and poses have the same element of balance, which is funny because I just said that I’m a person who craves stability and routine so there must be something there! What I always say when I’m teaching surf is that if you feel wobbly on the Indo board, you are meant to feel wobbly: the whole purpose of the practice on the Indo board is to challenge your stability and the more you challenge your stability, the more faith you’ll have in the fact that it’s there when you need it. 

What advice would you give people who wish or struggle to create a daily routine?

BS: Yeah, so as I already said before, I read a lot of “expert” writing about how to build habits and stuff like that and they all talk about having your anchor habit or your first habit that leads to your other habits. So I would say first find something in your life that is already a habit, your anchoring habit, whether it be brushing your teeth or maybe every Sunday you call your parents or something like that, it could be anything. But something that is already a habit and then you tie the secondary habit or whatever you want to develop as a habit to the anchor habit. So for me, getting up and journaling was already an anchor habit so now I just journal and then I practice after, I go to class after or I practice at home. The other thing I would say, is take it one habit at a time or one routine at a time: you will be much more successful if you focus for a month on going to yoga everyday or 40 days, like the 40 day challenge that got me to start practicing daily. Another benefit of this 40 day challenge was that I had an entire community out for my success. So if there was a day when I was tired and didn’t want to go, I knew that there was a community that was depending on me to be there and that I could depend on for support. So three tips!

Brittanie teaches Surf Yoga at Studio 191 over 4 times per week. Her classes are fun + challenging and her teachings are honest + inspiring. Check out our live schedule each week to join one of her Surf 191 classes.

Brittanie also teaches Vinyasa Yoga - keep your eyes peeled on the schedule for one of her strong flow practices that you just will not want to miss.

An interview by Zoe Hofstetter {writer, teacher, personal trainer & manager at Studio 191}

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