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Are you feeling “spacey”?

Fall and winter are great! Cozy sweaters, spiced cider, sports and holidays!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when autumn really gets going, I start to feel spacey and forgetful. And if the change in the weather is dramatic enough, I can get really dry skin and end up feeling completely ungrounded and all out-of-sorts.

Something I find amazing is how it’s the little changes that seem to make the biggest difference! Something as simple as having a cup or warm tea can make my frown turn into a smile. Or remembering to bring a light sweater can be the difference between feeling great or being completely miserable.

Check out these great tips for feeling great in the fall and winter!

When the frenzy of the work day presses in

It’s super common to get into the middle of a well-planned day and all of a sudden you have emails and IMs pinging in from every direction. Maybe your boss or a contractor is demanding you immediate attention.

Stress starts to mount, right?

Phone calls. Stress. Deadlines. Everything starts to get kind of overwhelming.

You may find yourself pouring a second (or fifth) cup of coffee. Or perhaps you decide to skip lunch (or eat in the car between appointments) to try to get more done. You simply have too much to do and you have to do *something* to make up for lost time.

But this is not the way to REALLY find freedom from the frenzy.

It may seem right in the moment. Get a cup of coffee. Plow through lunch. Work later.

But no.

Trust me. It’s not the way.

The way to find freedom from the frenzy in the middle of the day is to push the pause button.

Yes, it seems beyond counter-intuitive to stop when there’s so much to do. But I promise it works.

If you’re feeling frenzy in the middle of this day, I invite you to push pause. There can be a variety of ways to do this, and if you already know what works for you, do it!

I have one tool I’d like to share with you today. It’s simply managing the breath. I love this tool because you ALWAYS have it with you! You don’t need any special tool. You don’t need a yoga mat. You don’t need workout clothes or perfect weather.

You can manage your breath at your desk, on the stage, on the playing field, in traffic, in a meeting, at home. It works EVERYWHERE!

Here’s the technique:

  • Focus on the breath and slow it down
  • Inhale  1-2-3-4
  • Pause 1-2
  • Exhale 1-2-3-4
  • Pause 1-2

Hopefully you feel better already! You can use this technique anytime, anywhere, and no one even knows you’re using it but YOU! As you use it, you build a new tranquil mind and create freedom from the frenzy of the day.

Get my free pdf guide for even more tools to take back YOUR day, or book a Discovery Call to explore personal coaching options to create your tranquil mind and life!

Book a discovery call

Yoga During Health Education Week: Solutions for Mesothelioma Patients

Between October 15th and 19th, the nation is focusing on Health Education Week 2018. Our minds and bodies are linked in many ways that are still being defined. Every person can have a pathway to better health through yoga, including mesothelioma patients. Because this rare cancer of the lung lining can be incredibly debilitating, yoga offers several answers for a better quality of life. The following practices are shared with mesothelioma in mind. However, these are great practices for anyone dealing with a challenging illness, like cancer.

Putting You in the Moment

The human mind tends to ruminate on the past and future. Thinking about the present isn’t always a priority. Yoga helps patients with terminal cancer by putting them in the present. Feeling their bodies stretch and relax is important for both mental and physiological improvements.

There’s nothing to truly worry about in the present. The focus is on moving the body into certain positions. Mesothelioma patients need this reprieve so that they can deal with life after the yoga session.

Encouraging Deep Breathing

One of the most basic moves in the yoga world is breathing deeply. Most people, including cancer patients, breathe with a shallow inhalation. Bringing more air into the lungs allows extra oxygen to reach the tissues. Cancer patients need as many nutrients as possible in their bodies. Therefore, transporting oxygen and other nutrients to tissues can make a difference in prognoses and outlook on life.

Fighting Fatigue and Creating Quality Rest

According to the Oncology Nursing News, yoga encourages rest in the evening and fewer worries during the day. No other medicine or activity can boast both of these benefits together.

Yoga stimulates the entire body. Patients feel elated after the workout. Additionally, patients enjoy good feelings and an energetic mind the rest of the day. As this sensation declines, the body feels tired. Patients typically enjoy a deep rest so they can tackle tomorrow’s challenges with more energy.

Increasing Flexibility

Patients dealing with mesothelioma have a tightness in their chest. This can translate into limited movements among the limbs. Yoga classes with teachers who are experts in their field can help patients with their flexibility issues, states the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. These professionals know how to move the body so that no detrimental effects occur as a result of the movements. Flexibility returns to the body after only a few sessions.

Supporting the Mental Side of Life

Feeling down during a fight with cancer is understandable. Participants can fly with their minds and bodies through yoga, however. When participants move their bodies into achievable positions, they feel good on a mental level. The body naturally releases good hormones, which leads to happier times.

When the mind isn’t supported by a positive outlook, both physical and mental decline are possible.

Finally, fighting off negative emotions, including depression, is an important facet of yoga training, reports Psychology Today. This activity has dozens of benefits that should be explored by mesothelioma patients. As patients look for alternative ways to improve their lives, keep Health Education Week in mind. A better tomorrow is in store for everyone who tries something different.

Do you react or respond? Leadership Lessons from Kung Fu Panda

react or respond

Yes. I know it’s an animated movie! But I must say, TONS of life lessons can be learned from kids’ movies. For instance, some of life’s greatest lessons about friendship, teamwork and parenting are in Finding Nemo!

Kung Fu Panda is no different!

Po (the panda) is like many of us. He’s not sure how he fits in his world and seems to make poor choices more often than not. For SURE, he hasn’t stepped into his own greatness.

In what seems like an undeniable mistake of the universe, Po is chosen the Dragon Warrior, meant to defeat the evil Tai Lung. This is laughable to many and infuriating to those who have been training a lifetime for the possibility to have the honor.

Once it becomes clear that an attack from Tai Lung is imminent, Oogway, the wise Master (the turtle), calls for his student, Shifu. Upon hearing the news of Tai Lung’s attack, Shifu panics and begins barking orders to attempt to prevent the threat. He is reacting from a place of inner-chaos, fear, and agitation. Oogway, however,  is not upset. He lives, leads, and responds from a deep, inner quiet. He tells Shifu, “Your mind is like this water, my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. (Oogway then gently touches the surface of the water with his staff, calming the ripples) But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”

Oh the wisdom!

This particular lesson is so valuable for high-performing leaders, professionals and influencers.

Do you react or respond?

When we react to the threat, whether it is a deadline, a rival business, a tech system meltdown, a rogue employee, or any number of other things that can come our way, our minds are like Shifu – agitated, and it is difficult to see clearly.

However…

When we choose instead to respond – pull back, take a look at our mind and emotions and gently settle ripples (or full-blown oceanic waves), the answer becomes clear!

Would you like to know HOW to turn the chaos and agitation into a deep inner calm?

Would you like to see how leading from a place of stillness can uncover the leader in you who leads with a deeper sense of your innate inner-wisdom?

Message me to begin your journey of learning to settle the waters of your mind and emotions so you, too, can see the answers clearly. You’ll learn to use simple, yet effective techniques to calm your mind. Become the stealth, wise influencer you know you can be!

Are you exhausted?

are you exhausted

I’ve had three or four conversations in the last week with people feeling completely overwhelmed with life and utterly exhausted. The story I heard goes something like this: “I’m working more than 40 hours a week, and I have to get the kids to/from school, and I have this big project at work, and my rec softball league is in a tournament next weekend, and I have to walk the dog twice a day, and grocery shop, and make dinner, etc. And then I got really sick last weekend. And I think I’m depressed. Sigh.”

They’re exhausted. Sound familiar?

I’m still not sure WHY we do it, but as a society we seem hell-bent on driving ourselves into the ground. We over-schedule like we think we can add hours to the day; take on projects and volunteer opportunities to add to our “resume” like a high-school senior trying to get into an Ivy League school. And then we are flabbergasted when we get the latest cold, flu or virus. It seems like we are actually TRYING to be exhausted.

Would you like a solution? Because there is one.

But I have to tell you, you may not gonna like it…at first.

Let’s start with an obvious example. Toddlers get kinda crazy when they’re over-tired, right? Everything gets over-blown, nothing makes them happy, they start to scream, and then cry, and the next thing you know, they’re throwing a full-blown temper-tantrum. Why? Because they’re exhausted.

Good times.

I’ll try to deliver this softly. We’re not that much different as adults. Truly.

Over-scheduling and over-committing leads us to become overtired. We start to blow things out of proportion, nothing makes us happy (not the triple espressos, not the afternoon donuts, not the mani-pedi, not the date at a nice place), we get short-tempered (with our co-workers, friends and family), we may even cry, and the next thing you know, we’re having a major melt-down. Why? Because we’re exhausted.

So how do we solve this problem?

You may think you know where this is going. But, I’m NOT going to say you should find 3-5 things to cancel or drop. I think it’s WAY more fun to look at things to ADD than take away. I know that sounds a little counter-intuitive, but stay with me.

Write it down!

First, write down the things that are truly important to you. Like in your calendar. And start with the basics. Like sleep. Yep. Sleep. None of us functions well or rationally without adequate sleep. So, start there. Your list is probably a little different than mine, but here are some initial areas to consider:

  • Sleep: research shows adults need 7-9 hours. Yes. Every night. Every. Night. Decide on your bedtime and stick to it like your life depends on it. Because it kind of does.
  • Meditation: Get on the meditation bandwagon! If you haven’t yet, you are honestly missing out on a complete game-changer. No more excuses. Start today and do it for the rest of your life. You will be SO glad you did. Not sure where to start? Try this app, or this one, or maybe this one.
  • Nutrition: Decide what kind of meals are important to you. And eat them somewhere other than in front of your computer. Or iPad. Or phone. I’m serious. Give yourself enough time to eat and actually enjoy your meal. A good 30 minutes for each one. Write it in!
  • Movement: What’s your jam here? Yoga, Group Fitness Class, Hiking, Biking, Walking, Martial Arts. Whatever it is, schedule in time for yourself to do this a few times each week. And keep this commitment to your sanity and well-being. We all thank you!
  • Necessary Tasks: Ok. Add in the mandatory tasks that MUST be done every day/week. Work, carpool, grocery shopping, etc. Just don’t do it UNTIL you have the other things scheduled.

Now that you have the framework for your week, add in the extras. If it turns out that there’s not enough time for that extra project or activity, let it go. It WILL be ok! When you start to guard your time and energy and decide AHEAD OF TIME what you are willing to spend it on, the rest will fall into place, or fall off the schedule.

Here’s what’s cool…

When I have done this in the past, what I have found is that I may let a couple things go here and there, but a lot of things stay the same. Yet, somehow I FEEL completely different about it all. During the process of doing this activity, I realize *I* am in control of my life and I can choose at any moment to add or subtract things from my life. I realize how powerful “No” can be in protecting my sanity, and I also realize how powerful “Yes” can be when I say it to something I REALLY want to do! And the best part? I don’t feel exhausted anymore! I feel energized to live the life I created!

So, are you ready to take your life back? Tell me, what are the three most important things in your day/week?

Terrible Night’s Sleep?

Sadly it happens to all of us. For whatever reason, you didn’t sleep well last night.

This happened to me not long ago.

I found myself at the airport having hardly slept at all. I was on a trip and REALLY needed to sleep well. But no. Hardly a wink. The air conditioning was out in my hotel room and they were booked solid so I couldn’t just switch to another room. The nearest hotel was several miles away and it was already 2:00am when I realized what the issue was. Ugh.

What to do?

Because I travel a lot, I’ve developed a few ways to make it through this situation with as little disruption to my day as possible. I can even function at a pretty normal level! In this short video I share with you my tips for getting through the day when I haven’t had any sleep to speak of.

 

Jenn’s list of things to do when you haven’t had any sleep:

  • Wear your glasses! Your eyes will thank you for it!
  • Get a nourishing breakfast – this is not the day for a sugary danish. Nope. Eat something real!
  • Go ahead and have a creature comfort – for me it’s a yummy latte!
  • Create time in your day for a Yoga Nidra meditation – enjoy the equivalent of an hour’s sleep for every 15 minutes of Nidra!
  • Here’s a link to my favorite meditation app these days

It’s certainly a drag when this happens, but it doesn’t have to ruin your day! Enjoy these simple tips to help you make it through the day when you’ve had your sleep hijacked.

I’d love to hear from you! What are some things you have discovered that help you navigate the day after a night of poor sleep? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

What is “good posture” anyway?

How’s your posture right now? Are you sitting or standing nice a tall? Or slumped over your desk or phone? This is a topic that goes back to the good ol’ days. If you’re like me, your mama said on more than one occasion, “Stand up straight!” And I don’t know about you, but for me, it only lasted as long as she was looking!

It turns out that Mom was right!

Posture does more than make you taller and look more educated. It actually DIRECTLY affects everything from your mood to the inner workings of your body’s deepest systems! And for so many people, poor spinal alignment leads to “garden-variety” low back pain, too. So, figuring out how to “straighten up” can have some IMMEDIATE benefits!

But, do you even know what “good posture” is?

Well, in this short video I teach about the main elements that create a posture that even your Mom would be proud of! Check it out:

 

It’s really not complicated, or even difficult to create a strong and functional alignment. In fact, there are two very simple things you can do RIGHT NOW to create strength and stability in your body!

Start with your feet!

  • point toes straight ahead
  • feet under hip points (about two-fists wide)

Check the hips!

  • are hips tilting forward or backward?
  • find the even place between the two – hips parallel to the floor

 

Did you try it? Let me know in the comments your favorite tip!

#metoo? Yoga may help*

#metoo

#metoo: It’s been all over social media and the news for months now.

You may be among the millions who posted #metoo on your social media page. In fact, it’s very likely that you are. A recent study found that nationwide, 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime.

So to say sexual harassment and assault are prevalent would be a ridiculous understatement. These experiences are wide-spread and affect many more of us than we ever knew before.

Here’s what I’m most concerned with at this point: Can yoga help? And if so, how?

Throughout my studies for Yoga Therapy, I have learned so much about all kinds of trauma – from childhood experiences to military situations, to natural disasters, to – yes – sexual harassment/assault.

Depending on a whole host of factors, each person experiences trauma differently. Even the SAME trauma. Even a #metoo trauma. One person in an auto accident may go into fight mode and do everything possible to escape an overturned car, while the other person in the same car may freeze and be unresponsive until well after help has arrived.

What’s fascinating to me about the different responses is that we have little to no choice over how we will respond in any given situation that we perceive as potentially life-threatening. Our body, through a truly amazing chemical process, has decided for us the “best” response before our rational mind has even gotten the full download of what’s happening.

Crazy, huh?

So there’s really no benefit in going back over what happened to figure out WHY we didn’t act differently. Because honestly, it’s not really up to us in the first place.

Regardless of what happened exactly, something important to note is that very often in life- or safety-threatening situations, our frontal lobe (or thinking part of our brain) goes off-line while our limbic brain (survival part of our brain) takes charge. This is important because we process trauma in the pre-language part of our brain. This can be true in any type of trauma, even a #metoo trauma.

But, why is this important?

It’s important because it’s very difficult (or even impossible) to process trauma through talk-based therapy when our language center was checked-out for the event in question. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So, what to do?

Our limbic brain is all about fight/flight/freeze and the ACTION that needs to be taken to avoid the threat. So, we can address the trauma through – action. Movement-based therapies have been found to be extremely effective in supporting the healing process. What’s super cool is that we can support healing and movement through past traumas (that we haven’t even been able to talk about yet) through movement therapies like yoga.

Trauma-Sensitive yoga can help in a variety of ways*:

(summarized from Yoga and PTSD: A Primer on Symptoms and Potential Mechanisms of Change, Yoga Therapy Today Winter 2018):

  • Less re-experiencing of memories. Through the mindful practice of poses, we can develop the ability to better control the fluctuations of our mind. Basically, we get better at choosing what we think about.
  • Improvement in Psychological Flexibility. This means we improve our ability to stick with it even when we are challenged. We do this in yoga poses, but it helps us to manage our inner sensations when we are in a crowded place or other situation where we may feel anxious.
  • Reduction of irritability. Yogic breathing and meditation help us learn how to soften our internal experiences. Study participants still had emotional/mental triggers come up, but found them to be less troubling and experienced less symptoms.
  • Improved thoughts and mood. Through acceptance of each individual’s experience, participants learn how to accept their own thoughts, emotions, and moods without judgment. This allows participants to feel freely without “holding back.”

All in all, the research and preliminary studies are very positive in showing that yoga can be an excellent support to primary care options*. Trauma-sensitive Yoga Classes are available in many cities. If you think you’d like to try it, check with local studios, gyms, and community centers.

*I am a Yoga Therapist, not a Doctor or Licensed Therapist. The statements made here are my opinions supported by my experiences and research, and are not intended to be prescriptions or medical advice. Yoga Therapy is meant to support the work of Licensed Healthcare Professionals. Please check with your Healthcare Professional to see if yoga therapy is right for you.

Can yoga help?

It’s not the questions that are interesting – it’s the single answer

Yoga students, friends and family ask me yoga questions all the time. And it makes sense. After all, I AM a Yoga Teacher, a Yoga Trainer, and a Yoga Therapist. So it’s not all that strange that people ask questions. What IS really interesting to me is how almost every single question can be answered with the same answer.

It’s true.

Would you like to know what it is? I promise, it’s going to be a little underwhelming. It may even be disappointingly simple. In fact, I would venture to guess that most people would even PREFER for the solution to be something more complicated.

But it’s not.

It’s super simple.

But it’s not easy.

Ok. Here it is: Stand up straight.

Yep. That’s it.

Question: Jenn, I’m having issues with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. What yoga can I do to help?
Answer: How’s your posture? Are you standing and sitting up straight? Especially your neck and shoulders. Especially if you work at a computer a lot. Check on your upper body posture.

Question: Jenn, my low back has been bothering me. Are there any yoga poses I can do to relieve it?
Answer: Yes. There are a few poses to do to alleviate the discomfort. But let’s also get down to the deeper issue. How’s your posture? Do you stand and sit straight? Two areas to consider – your foundation and your abdominal support. Check to see if you stand with your feet hip width and toes pointing forward. Also, gently lift your belly button up and in to create low back support.

Question: Jenn, I’m having lots of neck pain and headaches sometimes. Is there anything I can do that’s yoga-related to help?
Answer: How’s your posture? In particular, do you spend a lot of time at the computer or on your phone with your head pushed forward and looking down? Create ways to sit up tall and put your phone down more often. At the very least, take breaks and do some stretches to get out of that pattern for a little bit every so often.

See?

Three seemingly unrelated issues may all be alleviated, or even completely resolved, by adjusting your posture! It is AMAZING how much pain and discomfort we can relieve when we do something as simple as correct our posture. Here’s a quick video on setting up the foundations.

It IS simple. But it’s not easy.

Strengthening our postural support muscles takes a fair amount of effort and concentration. Going to the gym or even yoga class a couple times a week isn’t going to cut it. This is something that you have to focus on every single day. Any time you notice that you are slumping forward, standing with one hip kicked over to the side, or spending hours looking down at your phone – pause – make an assessment – and then make an adjustment. It may only last for 1-2 minutes at first. But that’s ok! When you notice that you have gotten into the poor postural pattern again, simply adjust into good posture again! No need to beat yourself up. These things take time. Simply re-adjust any time you notice that you need to adjust.

Now, of course, there are specific yoga poses and sequences that can expedite this process and address your particular concerns. Your local Yoga Teacher or Yoga Therapist can help you with your individual needs.

I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below something you’ve been wondering about. “I wonder if yoga can help with…..?”

When the wheels fall off your day by 7:30am

gratitude even when the wheels fall off

This used to happen to me all the time. I’d be rushing around day after day and before long, the wheels would fall off the whole thing before I’d even left the house. I know you know what I’m talking about!

Have you ever had “wheels off” kind of day? It looks like this:

  1. alarm fails to go off properly – wake up 45 minutes late
  2. skip morning workout and shower
  3. try to look presentable without a shower
  4. grab a coffee on the way out the door
  5. spill coffee on your outfit trying to get in the car
  6. go back inside, change clothes
  7. leave without coffee (or breakfast, for that matter)
  8. get to work late disheveled and hungry, naturally, you hit rush hour traffic
  9. grab terrible office coffee
  10. skip lunch to make up for being late
  11. mid-afternoon grab a candy bar from the vending machine and another bad cup of coffee
  12. sludge through the afternoon, grumpy and on an artificial caffeine/sugar high
  13. bottom out on sugar crash
  14. get home, order pizza
  15. veg in front of the tv for 4 hours
  16. go to bed late and exhausted

Yep. Me too. It feels terrible and if you don’t rescue it somewhere along the way? The same scenario (or something similar) unfolds again the next day.

I used to honestly believe that if the wheels fell off on Monday, then the rest of the week was doomed!

But it’s not!

After PLENTY of my own experience trying to salvage yet another day waking up too late and getting to work late, I began to realize some things. There are some little changes I can make along the way (even on the REALLY bad days) that can consequently turn the whole day around.

Want to know a couple of my secrets?

  1. Purchase a great hair clip that makes it look like you MEANT to wear your hair tied back!
  2. Yes, I’m serious about #1.
  3. Play music that helps reset your mood, or listen to your favorite book or podcast as you drive.
  4. Before you get out of the car, take 3 deep, even breaths.
  5. I mean it! Take 3 deep breaths – it’s amazing how much it can calm you down, and only takes about 30 seconds.
  6. Take the lunch break. You need it. And everyone around you needs you to take it too!
  7. Pull your favorite essential oil or healing crystal out of your desk. Something as simple as a beautiful stone or a soothing aroma is better at getting you through the afternoon than caffeine and sugar.
  8. If cooking isn’t going to happen, at least drop by the grocery and choose something with nutritional value on your way home. Lots of stores have decent hot meals that can be consumed immediately.
  9. Sure, watch some tv if you want. But not 4 hours please! Take a nice evening walk or bath, read a book, have some herbal tea and GO TO BED on time!

Are you ready for the biggest one? This is THE single best way I know to take a wheels-off day and turn it into a dream day! It will literally REVOLUTIONIZE your life.

Drum roll, please….

Gratitude.

Yes, I’m serious about this one too – even more than that hair tie!

If you are serious about recovering after the wheels fall off your day and your entire lifestyle – it’s ALL about gratitude.

  1. Gratitude for waking up in the morning
  2. Gratitude for even have a shower available (even if there’s not time to use it)
  3. Gratitude for hair clips
  4. Gratitude for transportation to work
  5. Gratitude for coffee, even bad coffee
  6. Gratitude for vending machines
  7. Gratitude for making it home safely
  8. Gratitude for the pizza delivery guy (be sure to express that to him with a nice tip, after all, he’s the reason you don’t have to cook tonight!)
  9. Gratitude for television
  10. Gratitude for a bed to sleep in

Do you see how even the yucky day can be SO MUCH BETTER when you add in the gratitude? My experience is, when I start purposefully adding in gratitude even when the day starts off awful, it’s not two hours until the whole thing has turned around!

Most of all, when I go to sleep with gratitude on my mind, I’m much more likely to wake up well and ready for my day! Why? Because, it’s a choice. When I choose gratitude at night, I am choosing to end my day the way I want tomorrow to go. Therefore, choose gratitude!

So what do you say? Will you choose gratitude today?

I LOVE to hear from you! Comment below and let me know what YOU are grateful for!

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