2015 ‘The Year of Living Mindfully’

zen proverb

Happy New Year!

I’m dubbing 2015 the year of living mindfully. 

What does it mean to live a mindful life? It’s not about being serene or having an unrealistic vision of a state of constant peace. Living mindfully is about living in the moment- it’s about staying aware and present. When we can be with what is happening and allow things to be as they are, we can be open to anything. Maybe it’s making a change. Maybe it’s being more connected with other people. Maybe it’s simply a way to find a sense calm.

This year, I’ll be posting about meditation, therapeutic yoga and mindful eating. In addition stay tuned for videos and podcasts about living in the present moment. Each month with have a theme and focus.

I’m not just talking about something to do for the month of January, I’m talking about taking small steps to change your life- forever. I hope you’ll join me.

The journey begins January 12!!!

Happy New Year.

Namaste y’all.

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Thursday Yoga- Taking Chances

chances

I realized lately that I’ve been playing it little safe out of fear. A few weeks ago during yoga nidra I was overcome by a feeling the need to serve. Service as a way of life. In the next moment I had a sense of panic. How could I possibly do this responsibly, passionately and in a way that wouldn’t mean taking a vow of poverty? After some meditation and conversations with practical and successful friends whose opinions I value, I realized that I needed to look at things from a new perspective.

This meant trusting my instincts more and pushing through doubt.

Life is changing. Fast. Faster than I thought it would, but I’m ready. I’m excited, pumped and a little nervous. By taking conscious steps and chances, I’m creating the life I want.

It is surprising. And in other ways it feels as if this is what was going to happen all along. I just needed to find my way.

If you are looking to a take a risk, I hope you have the courage, wisdom and passion to do so.

It’s worth it.

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

Namaste y’all.

Wednesday Yoga- Things Change

change-quotes

As the year comes to an end I’m astonished at how much has changed. I’ve transitioned to teaching yoga therapy, discovered a deep and passionate calling to teach meditation and realized that being a yoga teacher isn’t something I want to do, it’s what I am supposed to do. And yet, these discoveries didn’t jump out and slap me in the face. Day-by-day, week-by-week I plugged away and listened to my voice and made some practical choices. Let’s be real, I also jumped off a few cliffs without a net.

I’m where I’m supposed to be.  And happy. Happy with what I doing for a living. I’m feeling peaceful in my personal life. And lastly, I understand that while a plan is critical, I also need a little bit of faith. When I stay in the present I can hear myself and trust my instincts.

Mindfulness is my roadmap and breathing is my vehicle.

Inhale. Exhale. Stay present.

Namaste y’all.

Morning Thought

sunrain_quote

 

Sometimes I worry. These days I worry less than I used to. Worry used to consume so much of my time. For me it was worse than anger because it would hang around for weeks quietly eroding my spirit. Meditation has helped that.

If something feels uncomfortable inside I take a moment to pause. Sitting with my eyes closed gives me chance to let whatever is there to be there.

After identifying if my feelings truly reflect an issue that needs to be changed I ask is it a situation that is out of my control? If so, I can only control how I react. And really, that’s that. No sense dwelling on things I can fix. If it’s an issue that I can change, I make a plan to change it. Don’t get me wrong, the plan isn’t always easy. But a roadmap can keep me on track in the darkness.

But worry? That gets me nowhere, fast.

So breathe. Sit. Inhale. Exhale.

Namaste y’all.

Love Unconditionally and Don’t Forget to Breathe

Love Yoga-2

I’m sidelined from my asana practice until my wrist heals. It’s annoying, but it’s also a chance to pause and reflect.

I love my practice without any conditions. When I can’t get to my mat it doesn’t mean that I’m not doing yoga, it simply means that I’m not doing asana. Yoga is not just about handstands and working on fancy arm balances (though they are fun). My practice loves me back. It has no expectations, no judgements. Yoga accepts me as I am whether I am feeling strong or weak.

My yoga is more than what happens on my mat. Yoga is a way that I get through ups and downs.

Yoga is how I work through pain when I am hurt. I’m given a way to move more slowly and listen to what part of my being is calling out.

It’s a chance to say to my body, I hear you. I am listening. Things don’t always go the way I want, but things occur the way they do. Yoga is my way to acceptance of how things are, not how I wish them to be. In this moment, I am restricted in movement. Rather than fight or deny it, I’m being with that idea, because it is so. Acceptance opens up a path to healing. How can I not love this? Yoga has shown me that I must love all of the time, no matter the circumstances.

Most importantly though, yoga is how I breathe. Yoga is how I love.

Yoga is life.

Namaste y’all.

 

 

Don’t forget breathe. Keep head your above water, but don’t forget to breathe.

-Alexi Murdoch

 

Something Happens and I’m Head Over Heels

Sunset_Backflip

Something happens and I’m head over heels, I never find out ’til I’m head over heels

– Tears for Fears

 

“You’re a rotten driver,” I protested. “Either you ought to be more careful, or you oughtn’t drive at all.”
“I am careful.”
“No you’re not.”
“Well, other people are,” she said lightly.
“What’s that got to do with it?”
“They’ll keep out of my way,” she insisted. “It takes two to make an accident.” 
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

 

Marin Blvd in Jersey City crosses with the entrance of the Holland Tunnel, one of two tunnels that get one into Manhattan from New Jersey. On Sundays it’s crammed with drivers who think they are clever by hopping off an earlier exit, cutting through Jersey City and ‘sneaking’ into the tunnel. This ‘shortcut’ has not been a shortcut for 15 years. With the population increase of Jersey City and surrounding areas, most folks know about it. You are probably adding time to the trip. So people who aren’t local zip through Jersey City as if they are still on the highway.

Not the safest of circumstances for folks on bikes. There are plenty of cyclists who take on the traffic of Marin Blvd, but I don’t feel like my hybrid bike is fast enough to keep up. If I were on a road bike, I’d feel differently.

I digress.

After a great class at Jivamukti, I hopped on my bike to run a few errands. It was windy and I was taking in the fall day. I made the mistake of taking for granted my surrounding and assumed that the sidewalk wouldn’t have any unusual obstructions.

A curb appeared on the right side of the sidewalk. My hands squeezed the brakes but it was too late. I knew I was going to crash. The tire hit the curb and over the handlebars I went. I knew I had to prepare and relax my body. I tucked my right shoulder and exhaled because something in my brain thought the exhale would relax my muscles so I wouldn’t resist the blow of the ground. Hugged into a ball shape I landed on the pavement with a thud. People ran over to me. I thought that probably wasn’t a good sign.

I looked up at the sky, wiggled a bit and didn’t feel any broken bones. My hands were shaking and I stood up. Since I didn’t fall back down instantly, I figured I must be okay. The chain had fallen off my bike and I need a new handgrip for the right handlebar- but everything seemed in order. It wasn’t until the protective cloud of adrenaline had left that I actually

When you get a bike you have to understand that at some point you will crash. As my dad eloquently put, “It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.” You can only hope that you are prepared and not in a high traffic environment. Even though I took a serious spill my yoga practice (asana, pranayama and meditation) saved me from getting seriously injured.

 

When you are having an accident or a traumatic event occurs it seems that everything is happening in slow motion. I did some research about this phenomenon. Check it out below:

 

Amanda Lewis, Shrewsbury

This is because our estimates of time depend on how much we remember, and more memories are laid down in an emergency. Experiments have investigated this. In one case volunteers fell back into a net from 50m, experiencing terrifying freefall for three seconds. They said they seemed to be moving in slow-motion, and estimated the fall had taken between four and six seconds, rather than three.

To find out whether they were really experiencing events more slowly they were given a wristwatch displaying random numbers flickering just too fast to see. During the fall they could not see the numbers any more clearly, so time doesn’t really slow down. They just remember it as though it did, probably because the amygdala, a part of the brain implicated in fear, is highly active and affects the way memories are made.

Scienefocus.com

 

 

 

Keep it safe!

 

Namaste y’all!

 

the teacher appears

Bharat manages to say the most profound things with so few words. This is just one of the many posts I love from Lonesome Lotus Yoga. Namaste y’all.

LONESOME LOTUS YOGA

Doves sing down the sun

Chickens sing it up

Stewards of their gifts

 ◊

Drifting down river

I see a man swimming

Hard against the flood

With precious breath he calls to me

Other way brother

 ◊

I found three stones

By a pond in moonlight

Three ways before me

The Teacher appeared that time

Saying

First you must love Truth

◊◊◊

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Health Yoga- Signs You May Be Falling Off the Wagon

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Making life changes can be empowering. Taking control of a an issue or situation and finding a solution is gratifying. I think this why I love watching shows where people triumph over adversity.

In the TV show that is my life, I’ve worked hard to become and stay self-aware. It keeps me healthy, both physically and mentally. But mastering my own emotional blueprint can be a gift and a curse. Once I have figured out why I do something and deal with it, it’s almost impossible for me to do that behavior without having my conscience rear her knowing head, eyebrow raised and finger wagging. The adventure of quitting smoking was blast inside that large dome that is my mind. Alas, another story for a rainy day.

I’m going to keep it real…

While backsliding does happen- it’s important to do recognize the signs. I like to think of it as becoming less present. When I’m distracted from being in the moment, I lose connection my center and ultimately my peace. As a result, I can feel off-balance, anxious, angry, nervous or empty. Instead of investigating the whys and breathing through the icky feelings my ego tries to convince me to cover it up or fill the hole with bad behavior or stuff. C’mon level with me, you know you’ve been there. 

I’m human. And you are too.  Distraction happens. But staying distracted is not the way to live a satisfying life.

Fortunately, there are red flags that let me (and all of us) know we may be about to veer off course.

 

Signs that you may be about to fall off the  wagon

The first six months of any major change are critical. It feels like the change is permanently made. If it is, great! But for many of us, we can unconsciously slip back into old patterns. Stay alert.

We all have triggers right? The stressors that send the signal to make us (insert bad behavior here). Before you know it you’re asking yourself, ‘How? How did I get here?”

david-byrne

 

1. You start to slip up in your  routine. One missed yoga practice turns into a week. You know who you are. It’s happened to me and I teach. I know that something is up when I notice that my meditation practice gets sloppy.

 

2. You start to rationalize bad eating habits. There’s noting wrong with the ocassional splurge. Life is meant to be enjoyed. But when the end of the work week brings empty pints of Ben & Jerry’s, it’s time to stop and evaluate.

 

3. You have less energy. I’m not talking about full blown fatigue. If you are feeling full blown fatigue for more than a week or two you should be talking to a doctor. I’m talking about that sluggish feeling. Maybe you’re lacking your regular up and at ’em energy. (Perhaps because you missed a workout, asana practice or after dinner walk or two?)

Being honest with yourself isn’t as scary as it sounds. We are programmed to beat ourselves up. That can lead to denial. Instead admit it. You’ll feel better about taking control back.

 

What to do?

1. Create a plan.  More than likely you made a plan to reach success in the past. It’s time to do it again. Outline the thing you need to do in order to get on track.

2. Talk to someone. Do you have a friend or yoga buddy? Someone you workout with? Give them a call. Talk to a supportive friend or family member. Sometimes saying the words out loud is all we need to get the ship back in the right direction. Other times a good conversation with someone who knows your health goals (and possible past struggles) can help you pinpoint a place where things started to go awry.

3. Write. It. Down. Ah, accountability is a tough but loving vixen. Pull out a journal and start scribing. This may help you identify what caused the slip in the first place. Old school notebook not your thing? Download an app. During HealthMinder Day at the BlogHer12 conference I listened to a lot of women talk about apps that really helped them stay on track and accountable. RunkeeperiMapMyRun, and Nexercise all have free versions of apps you can use. I keep track of my meditations on Insight Timer. It’s a really basic app, but I love it because it has a journal feature. Find what works for you so it becomes routine.

4. Forgive yourself. You made a mistake. One key to sustained success is the ability to let the stuff you don’t need go. Holding onto to bad feelings helps you how? Exactly. 

 

All that talk we hear about making lifestyle changes is true.

For me, yoga isn’t something to do it’s a way to be. Yoga has changed my life. And with this glorious yoga life comes bumps, lumps and the occasional mountain to climb.

And you know what? That’s okay. There’s no there, there. But the more I stay in this moment and honor my true self, I see that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Namaste y’all. Keep truckin’.