Category Archives for "practice"

What do you need right now?

What do you need right now? During challenging times, it’s hard to even know where to start, isn’t it?

You may have quite a few areas of your life that could use some attention. I know it’s been a challenge for many of us to stick with things that are important to us with the upheaval of work and life over these last few months.

What do you need right now? Physical Fitness.

My guess is your regular fitness routine has been interrupted. I know mine has. I miss my regular in-person yoga classes. Would you enjoy a yoga class right now? How about this one:

Online class does have its advantages, like zero travel time, but also presents some challenges too, like being harder to get myself to actually DO the class some days! I know I can’t be the only one who has struggled with this! Perhaps signing up for a live-stream class will help with this! Sign up for Wednesday evening Slow Flow – the link is good for three days after, so if this isn’t a good time for you, you can do it anytime through Saturday!

What do you need right now?Mental/Emotional Fitness.

Whew. This has been hard, too. At first, just getting used to staying home more, and whatever happened with work/job, was a lot to process. Then the grieving of the loss of our “normal” combined with varying degrees of concern for health and safety made things even more difficult. I find that sitting down for even a few minutes of meditation can be quite helpful to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that creeps in. Wanna give it a try? Here’s one you may enjoy. It’s a pretty simple Breath Meditation.

What do you need right now?
Sense of Connection.

I don’t know about you, but this has been a big one for me. Not going to my usual places and seeing my usually people has taken quite a toll. Sometimes it feels like there’s nobody out there that I’m connected to anymore. I mean, yes, I DO have friends and I even see them on Zoom and FaceTime calls fairly regularly, but it’s definitely not the same as seeing each other in person for yoga classes and such. I have taken a couple of online courses and classes and have found that this is a GREAT way to fill that void! If you’d like to join me for an online course, check one of these out:

What do you need right now?
Something More.

Perhaps you need or want something more. Something deeper. Something more personal. I totally get it. I have engaged in a couple of personal wellness sessions over these last few weeks too! Sometimes you just need someone to listen, help you assess where you are and where you’re going, and how to get there. I got you covered! Perhaps one of these options would suit you:

Listen, whatever you need, there ARE solutions out there! I am here and happy to help if what you need is something I am equipped to help with. Just let me know – we can get started right away!

Taking my own advice: care

taking care by taking my own advice

I guess it happens to everyone at some point. Somewhere along the way, you forget to actually DO all the things you go on and on about. At least this happens for me sometimes. Every now and then, I get so caught up in all the things I love about life that I kind of forget about those little things that go a long way toward me feeling my best. It’s been a really long time since this has happened though. I mean, I’ve been on a streak of taking good care of myself for years. I thought I was past the point of falling off the wagon of caring well for my body.

But it happened again.

I had been going along, living my life, and everything *seemed* to be ok. I was enjoying teaching classes and leading trainings, workshops, and online courses. I mean, I honestly LOVE my life!

So, I didn’t really notice when it all started. I don’t even know what the first clues were.

All I know is, all of a sudden, I didn’t really feel like myself anymore. I felt old, and my muscles were all tight, and even some things I really enjoy, like going for a long walk, became very cumbersome.

I realized that I had let go of something I talk about ALL THE TIME! I mean, I literally talk about this aspect of yoga and holistic care several times a week with students, friends, and family. But somehow, I managed to forget to do it FOR MYSELF.

You want to know what it is?

Self-care.

I mean, I was still *kind of* doing the things. I was still starting my mornings with meditation and tea. I was still going to yoga class and having coffee with friends. I was still getting massages regularly.

But I had stopped deeply listening to what my body was SAYING. I was missing those little cues that my body gave me telling me it needed MORE. More rest. More attention. More care.

So, here I am. Listening to my body and DOING something about it! I started a protocol with my Ayurvedic Practitioner that has had AMAZING results in the last few weeks. I have enrolled myself in a 6 week program of chiropractic care and physical therapy, along with my own at-home exercises and foam rolling. And all of a sudden, I feel 15 years younger! I have started LISTENING to my body again and responding accordingly.

It’s funny how it can be so easy to let things that are so important fall by the wayside. Thankfully, a little thoughtful implementation goes a LONG WAY to restoring balance and ease in the body.

I’d like to invite you to take a few moments to really listen to YOUR body. Do you fell well? Are there areas you have been ignoring? Do you know where to start?

I cover some great tips for starting points in this article: Is your body saying, “No”? And some thoughts about inner and outer balance in this video: Are you balanced?

I’m always here to help! If you’d like a little guidance from a fellow-traveler, give me a shout and let’s schedule a 30-minute call to see how Holistic Coaching and Yoga Therapy can help YOU!

Is your body saying, “No.”

Our body clearly and unapologetically shows us our experiences; particularly the ones that we try to push away or ignore. This idea isn’t new. There are a whole host of books out there exploring this idea: when we ignore our deepest feelings, especially anger, they don’t just disappear. They show up in our bodies as illness or disease.

It’s truly fascinating how our immune system is directly affected by our recurring thoughts and feelings.

I was talking with a friend about this the other day and she was kind of upset about the premise. She said, “But this makes me feel like it’s my FAULT any time I get sick.”

But that’s not the point at all.

The point is to realize the power we have over these things! Our body isn’t trying to shame us into not getting upset. Not at all! It’s just saying, “Hey. You know how you keep thinking about that relationship/work situation/feeling of being taken advantage of/fill-in-the-blank? That’s really starting to take it’s toll. We’re having a breakdown in the system over here. Let’s take some time to pull back and re-group!” Rather than blaming us for the illness, our body is simply asking us to redirect our thoughts.

It can actually be that simple in many cases.

Especially when we realize it early! We don’t have to wait until we have a full-blown disease. We can take a step back when we realize we are fighting a cold, or keep injuring the same knee, or have a recurring infection. Any and all of these are early warning signs from our body re-directing us to a positive mindset and dealing with difficult feelings right away rather than pushing them away.

But it’s not always that easy, is it? Simple? sure. IF you even know where the thought pattern is that’s causing the pain. But sometimes it’s REALLY hard to identify where it is! I know this because I’ve been there. Many times.

So, what to do?

I find that often times the best place to start is with some reflective practices. Each one of these can be powerful practices. But not everyone likes them all. Go with the one(s) that seem intriguing to you. That’s ALWAYS the best place to start if you ask me!

Here’s the greatest part – ANY time you make efforts toward your own wellness, your body notices RIGHT AWAY! And when we improve our mindset and choose new thought patterns, lots of amazing changes start to happen in our bodies.

Do you have a great story of how changing your mind has changed your life? I’d love to hear it! If you’d like, email me to tell me YOUR story!

Resources for this post:

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.

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!

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…..?”

Shake it Off? Wisdom from Taylor

shake it off

Shake it Off?

Ah, Taylor Swift! You are a sage of this age. Your peppy tunes and thoughtful lyrics speak to our culture. And not just the kids. I’ve seen many an adult know every – single – word to your catchy songs. It’s possible that I may be among those who know all the words to entire albums. One song in particular caught my attention the very first day it released. Which one, you may ask? Shake It Off! I love simplicity behind taking all the things people say and just “shaking them off.” I find myself wondering though – can it be that easy?

I actually think it can.

This may seem like a HUGE switch in train-of-thought, but stick with me.

For the past few years I have been exploring how Yoga Therapists are using yoga to heal. Not just things like stress and anxiety, even though these are two very powerful things to overcome, but also deeper things. Much deeper things. Things like trauma (physical and emotional) and PTSD and serious injuries and even chronic illness.

Well, one of the techniques used to help people move through these deeply-held traumas is to, quite literally, shake it off.

Let me explain.

We hold some of our deepest emotions, especially those related to traumatic events in the muscles of our bodies. Most specifically, the psoas, or hip flexors. Without getting too deeply into anatomy – these muscle resides deep in our body – starting on either side of our low back, running straight through our mid-section, crossing over the front of each hip, and attaching to our femurs in our inner thigh.

Whew. That got technical in a hurry!

Here’s where Tay-Tay comes into the picture. When, with the guidance of a Yoga Therapist, we purposely and systematically fatigue the psoas, we are then able to put our bodies into postures that cause the psoas to shake. And I mean SHAKE! The tremors exude throughout your body and can feel intense and funny and liberating and so much more. After experiencing this practice, many people find that old triggers don’t set them off as intensely as before, or that deeply-held fears of the past seem softer. Over time and practice, the intense anxiety or sleepless nights start to subside. Our body literally takes those old traumas and “shakes them off!”

Here’s the magic…

When we move through this practice with our Yoga Therapist, we are able to let our body process things that our mind may not remember or understand or be able to process in other methods of therapy. Therapy through movement is showing itself to be a powerful way to move through some difficult experiences that haven’t been very responsive to other treatments.

If this sort of work sounds interesting or appealing to you, please contact me. We can explore if this is a good fit for your specific concerns.

Now, I know you can’t get that song out of your head – so go ahead – listen to it!

Spring into Balance! Tips to feel your best.

While it was quite chilly when I woke up this Spring morning (30-something!), it has gotten quite beautiful this afternoon. We’ve had fair amounts of rain over the last weeks, and the flowers are blooming and the grass is growing. Believe it or not, even the cacti look “fluffy” from all the rain!

While it’s officially still a couple weeks away, when Spring really gets going, we often notice changes in our bodies as well. You may feel energized to clean out the garage, or start up your favorite outdoor activities. Or, you may feel the onset of dreaded allergies and congestion. Have you noticed yourself clearing your throat a lot lately? And if that’s the case, oh for some relief!

Ayurveda.

Wait.

What?

Ayur-what-uh?

Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, has lots to say about Spring (and all the seasons) and how to structure your day and diet to feel our best. And that is great news! I’ve found that when I establish and follow my daily routines and best nutrition practices, I feel SO MUCH BETTER!

If you’re looking to make some changes so that you can really enjoy Spring, I highly recommend trying just one or two to start off. After you have successfully implemented those, try adding one or two more. Taking things a step or two at a time is more likely to stick than trying to do 10-15 at a time!

Spring Morning Routine

Starting the morning off right is a fantastic way to set up your day. Try one of these morning routine options:

  • Get up before 6:00am! This is especially important in the Spring. You want to get up before 6:00am so that you don’t wake up feeling all sluggish and tired. Here’s a little video on the topic.
  • Meditate. Ayurveda says that meditation is the simplest was to find balance for all body types in all seasons. Even 5-10 minutes can truly alter the projection of your day. Try this meditation.
  • Use a tongue scraper. You can find these easily on Amazon. I use this one. First thing (before eating or drinking anything), scrape your tongue a few times. That filmy coating that comes off is called ama, or toxins. Eww. Get that stuff off of there! And then brush.
  • Sun Salutations, or any type of moving exercise. Get your body going within the first hour of being awake. You will ultimately feel energized, even if it seems like the last thing you want to do.
  • Drink warm water with lemon. Maybe add some honey. Maybe some fresh sliced ginger. Maybe some cracked black pepper. Soooo good for your digestion! Here’s how I make mine.

During the day, work with your body’s natural rhythms

  • Work your task list from 6:00a – 10:00a. This is the time to set your mind to the task and just do it! If allergies are making you crazy try 1-2 drops each of Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint in a diffuser. It works wonders!
  • Do the big projects from 10:00a – 2:00p. The middle of the day is best for the projects that take the most energy and effort. Also, this is the best time for a large meal. Eat up!
  • Let your creativity flow from 2:00p – 6:00p. Mid-late afternoon is when our creativity is the highest. Make the most of it by setting aside an hour or two to brainstorm or write, or whatever type of creativity moves you. This is also a nice time for a workout if that fits your schedule.
  • Slow it down from 6:00p – 10:00p. Eat a dinner that is lighter than lunch if at all possible. Take a walk after dinner. Relax. Enjoy time with family or friends. Plan time to get ready for bed. And plan to turn out the lights by 10:00p so you are well-rested for tomorrow.

Spring Evening Routine

  • Be sure to turn off all screens at least an hour before bed. This will allow your eyes to rest and brain to relax from the strain of screen-time.
  • Give yourself a foot massage. Include your favorite essential oil. Try Lavender or Balance Blend.
  • Meditate. You don’t have to meditate twice a day, but you can if you enjoy it! I find meditation is a wonderful bridge from day to night and night to day, so I like to spend a few minutes in meditation in the morning and the evening. This one is good for nighttime.
  • Turn off the lights by 10:00p. The hours of sleep before midnight are considered to be the most restful, so make the most of it!

Many of these routines are great all year long, so establishing your patterns now will set you up for season after season of feeling great!

Tell me, which of these resonates the most with you? Which one(s) will you implement?

I may or may not have rolled my eyes at her

I may or may not have rolled my eyes at her

A few weeks ago I went to a YogaFit Mind, Body, Fitness Conference and took another Ayurevda* training. Oh how I love learning in general, and about Ayurvedic routines and recipes more specifically!

*In case this is new to you, Ayurveda is the 5000 year old sister-science to yoga. It’s all about choosing routines and recipes that take your specific body type into consideration, along with the seasons. It’s pretty cool, I have to say.

Anyway, one of the recommendations that the trainer mentioned was to get up earlier. Like BEFORE 6am.

Crazy woman.

I don’t like to get up early. I get grumpy when I have to be up early. I will set my alarm for the last possible moment so I can stay in the cozy covers.

Can I get a witness?

Well, she could see the resistance on my face, and said (oh-so-kindly), “Just TRY it. Set your alarm for 5:55am tomorrow.”

I may or may not have rolled my eyes at her (sorry Tracy!).

 

Begrudgingly, I did it. 5:55am. Ugh.

HOWEVER, would you believe it? Instead of feeling MORE tired getting up 30 minutes earlier, I felt more AWAKE! How did THAT happen???

Well, it turns out Ayurveda knows what it’s talking about! When we get up before 6:00am (even if it’s just 5 minutes), we wake up during the time of day when we are most able to get going for the day. We have more energy and are able to jump into the day with enthusiasm instead of drudgery.

Seriously!

I felt so much better when I got up that extra few minutes early, I have been doing it every day since (well minus a couple sleep-in days). It’s truly changed how I feel about getting up in the morning. Since I am choosing to get up early, I don’t hate it! I get up, smile at my choice, and start my morning routine. And I even get all the things done I want to get done because I’m not hitting the snooze button two or three times.

Here’s my new morning routine timeline:

5:55am – wake up!
6:00am – tongue scraping, brushing teeth (and you know, going to the bathroom)
6:10am – meditation time
6:30am – Sun Salutations
6:40am – start getting ready for the day

 

I’d love to hear from you.

What new choices are you making to feel your best and improve your life? Please tell me in the comments!