If you want it, you need to do one simple thing, go after it.
Want to change your life? Want to change someone else’s life? Then follow your heart. Reach deep inside, bring out all the courage you’ve got, fight every obstacle, ignore the naysayers, embrace the pain, accept the helping hand that’s offered to you and show others what you are made of.
Then share your story to inspire others, because everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (90): Listen To Your Heart (YogaNanda)
You’ll never know the gift you’ve given me.
I’ll carry it with me.
Through the days ahead, I’ll think of days before.
You made me hope for something better and made me reach for something more.
– Lyrics from, The Music of My Heart
“I’m so lucky since I moved to this country, everything I’ve accomplished here is because of the support. I have people who believe in me, I have the fire, but I have them supporting me. And I have the biggest strength, my sister, because I’m doing this for her.”
– Nanda Oliveira
What Nanda Oliveira is doing is called Yoga. The perfect blend of physical, mental and spiritual being. The poses, when done perfectly, are breathtaking to observe. The slow, deep breathing is cleansing, the feeling of a greater sense of self and intense discipline can take you to another place. For Nanda yoga takes her to a place deep in her heart, mind and soul.
Nanda’s heart, which wants to carry on the legacy of her sister Renata. It’s been ten years since Renata, at the still tender age of 25, passed away after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
“My sister was so special”, says Nanda. “For ten years she fought against MS, always with a smile on her face. What I remember most is that big, bright smile. And she was a fighter. Despite being told she would never be able to have children, she was able to give birth to my nephew, who is now also part of her legacy.”
It was shortly after Renata’s passing that Nanda made the decision to travel from Brazil and come live in America. And it is with her sister’s memory and Nanda’s desire to “do more with her life”, which led to her decision to take on the challenge of becoming a certified yoga teacher – and eventually work with those who must battle the same disease that claimed Renata’s life.
Nanda’s yoga journey is a tremendous lesson for anyone who knows what they want, but is still trying to find the drive and discipline to make it happen, to make their dream come true. For starters it’s about setting the goal: “My whole year has been based around yoga”, says Nanda. “In the new year I always make a resolution and I set my mind, and this year I decided I was going to be a certified yoga teacher, that was my goal. I started taking yoga six months before I started training, (last April), and saw the changes in my body and mind. I loved it.”
With each exhale in her yoga routine Nanda says her mind is “perfectly distracted” from all the problems and challenges of life. She says she feels the experience in her soul, taking her back to a time when life was less complex: “Yoga has brought me back to how I was raised in Brazil”, says Nanda. “I was raised simple and not needing much to survive, leading a simple life. Somehow I got lost a little in America and yoga has shown me again you can live life in a different way, the way I was raised. I’m not sure how I allowed myself to get lost, but it feels so good to be thankful and grateful again for just being alive.”
But the reward of “feeling alive” comes with a price to pay, challenges to overcome. It always does when you pursue a dream. In this case Nanda faced a few hundred hours of challenges.
For this 34-year-old woman, wife and mother of a 2-year-old son, the challenges of a 200-hour yoga course at first seemed overwhelming. Nanda already works six long mornings a week as an instructor at barre, a fitness studio in Baltimore which offers a mix of ballet, yoga and pilates. She also works three afternoons a week as the Relationship Manager at USHEALTH Advisors and because of her husband’s own busy work schedule, as the primary caretaker for her son Aiden. There are only 168 hours in a week and most of those were already taken up with her two jobs, her son and trying to squeeze in the necessities of life, like food shopping, household chores and sleep. Now Nanda was staring at 200 hours of yoga training to earn her certification and the still-to-come big surprise about “outside” training…
Nanda remembers, “On the first night of yoga training we learned about the extra work I would need to do, three separate yoga classes a week, on top of the 200 hours of class and studying. I thought there is no way I can do this. But I went home that first weekend and thought I have to find a way to do this – because from that first night of class I was hooked. There were 30 people in my class and they all have busy lives, they have kids and jobs and they figure it out. I just thought this is my passion and I will do this.”
Plus there was the expense of classes and instruction, studying yoga books and the fourth language Nanda would need to learn, (she already speaks three), called Sanskrit, the Indian language used for yoga poses. Nanda says, “I’m thinking all of this the first night. I have to take three yoga classes a week, do homework, learn another language and with little time to handle all of it. I just decided I’m going to do it, I’m not giving up. I’m not a quitter. I’m going to do this.”
As Nanda has learned at every turn since coming to the United States 10-years-ago, you don’t accomplish anything by yourself, and Nanda has plenty to be proud of since her arrival from Brazil, (http://markbrodinsky.com/the-sunday-series-22-with-mark-brodinsky/). If help is offered Nanda has learned to accept it, be grateful and go all in. “I have great bosses” says Nanda, “who gave me time off, or found substitutes while I took yoga classes. And I have my husband’s grandparents, Barbara Grelli and Gene Grelli. I will be forever grateful to them because for the nine months of the long weekend training they kept Aiden at their house safe, while I was pursuing my dream without any concern, because I knew they were taking good care of my son.”
It’s the support, the passion, the motivation, and the discipline that get you where you want to go. To observe Nanda go after what she wants – the planning, the preparation, the never-ending enthusiasm and positive attitude she carries – is as inspiring as the yoga poses she can perform with seemingly perfect ease. They look easy only because Nanda understands that the positive results you want must come from hard work and practice. Nanda says: “People say to me you succeed in everything you do in your life, so what’s the secret? The secret is there is no secret, I do it with my heart. I feel like anything you are going to do with your heart you are going to succeed.”
And there’s the extra inspiration and motivation – the memory of her big sister Renata – lighting up Nanda’s heart every step of the way. ” Once I have more experience and training I can use yoga and start to help people with multiple sclerosis and carry my sister’s legacy.” Nanda also wants to help people in hospitals and work with seniors. But no matter what the age, Nanda believes through teaching yoga she can help other people not only learn more about their bodies, but just as importantly, help impact their minds, how they think, how they feel, how they view life and to help them listen, as yoga has helped Nanda to do.
Nanda says yoga not only distracts her from the daily challenges of life, but it has taught her many things about herself, including creating a new habit. “Yoga taught me how to listen more. Sometimes people just want you to listen to them. I do that with clients now at barre and yoga, I just listen. They just want someone to take the time, they don’t want, or need advice. I think yoga has taught me to really listen to people’s hearts.”
The synergy here is deep. Nanda listened to her heart and found yoga. She now has a deeper sense of self, which has taught her and all those who have watched her journey what dedication, devotion, passion and persistence are all about. And now as a yoga teacher she can one day help others who struggle with MS, bringing with her the memory of the one person who for Nanda’s entire life has helped her listen to the music in her heart…Renata.
Everywhere I go I’ll think of where I’ve been,
and of the one who knew me better than anyone ever will again.
You taught me to run, you taught me to fly, helped me to free the me inside.
Helped me hear the music of my heart.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time
Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Speech Writer, Emmy Winner, USHEALTH Advisors
Author: The #1 Amazon Best Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
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