Four tips for navigating tough moments

Life is hard. No one gets out alive. But there’s ice cream.


There’s a hot yoga studio in Reston, Virginia. You probably had no idea. Real talk: how many people go to Reston to do yoga — hot yoga, no less?

In case you’re wondering, there are roughly 58,400 people in Reston. Not bad, Reston. There are, of that population, quite a few people who dig raising their heart rate and breathing deeply in a 110-degree room while packed in with other, sweaty folks.

The studio is in an office park off of a side road, and I go there whenever I travel back home. There’s an instructor there who, unlike too many other instructors of hot yoga, absolutely refuses to make a big deal out of the whole ordeal.

I will rearrange my day to attend her class.

She will push us to go deeper in our poses. She’ll walk us through interesting tidbits about human anatomy as it relates to our contortions. She tells jokes and regales us with stories from her life experience. She reminds us that we’re in the room for ourselves and no one else; that life’s hard, but no on gets out alive, and to tell the people we love that we love them, since that not-getting-out-alive thing can happen at any moment. But she doesn’t call people out individually for praise or critique, and she doesn’t assume the faux-serious tone that makes you wonder if she missed the memo that it’s just a yoga class.

She got the memo.

Her approach is refreshing, and elevates my practice from raw suffering to enjoyment. There are a few central points to her philosophy that I believe are worth sharing. None of the points are earth-shatteringly profound, but in moments of physical and/or mental stress, they have stood between me and stomping out of the room.

1. Don’t let anyone steal your happiness — not even you.

2. Eat ice cream/treat yourself.

3. Hug the people you love, you never know when you will see them again.

4. Make the choice to be happy, and then revisit #1.

Now, I want to pause here. It’s easy to gloss over the very real challenges posed by depression and other mental illnesses when evoking these sentiments. Sometimes we simply cannot do the work of finding, let alone holding on to our happiness on our own, and no amount of ice cream will help. It’s not only okay to ask for help, it’s critical. It’s also critical we collectively create a culture where requests for help are welcomed without judgment. The website offers a number of hotlines to call if you are reading this and find yourself in need of assistance.

In the meantime, I hope you find happiness and, when you do, that you are able to hold on to it … and ice cream.

Oh, and thanks, Carol.