I’ve been meaning to write about the lessons I learned from the trails for awhile, but you know, it’s been quite a year and I keep getting distracted by other things.
Because of the coronavirus, our original vacation plans were drastically altered. I’m sure we’re not the only ones! Even still, we feel extremely grateful that we were able to get out of the house for a few days. We really wanted to explore some of the beauty of the outdoors since we’d seen about all we wanted of indoors this year. We both talk all the time about the healing power of nature, and I know I felt I needed it more than ever this year if I was going to be able to continue my work as a Yoga Teacher, Yoga Therapist, and Lead Trainer. So we went off in search of relaxation for sure, but also for inspiration so we can do our work well. Turned out to be a good decision!
Our first trail was short and quite easy – just a mile and a half or so from the parking lot to the viewpoint on a wide and well-kept walkway. Even still – I misjudged it and wore sandals, when I really should’ve worn sneakers. Ugh! While the views were STUNNING, and we definitely timed it right for sunset photos, my feet were really not having it on the way back to the car. I ended up wearing Brad’s shoes and he walked BAREFOOT so I could be more comfortable. The first of so many lessons I learned…
For our next adventure, you’d better believe I had on the right shoes! This trail was considerably longer and more challenging. It was even quite a bit warmer that we expected. Lots of switchbacks and long expanses with no shade might have taken their toll if we hadn’t brought enough water! Thankfully we did! We even brought more than we thought we’d need. That was a GREAT decision! Because we DID need it! We were able to enjoy all the ups and downs and unexpected turns because we were well-prepared. One of the best lessons my mom ever taught me! An absolutely lovely day enjoying the beauty of the spires of rocks!
After a good long day enjoying the beauty of Bryce Canyon, we headed to find some dinner and a place to rest. We found a lovely lodge restaurant that had delicious food and had the great pleasure of enjoying it out on the patio in the fresh mountain air. We lingered over that dinner, chatting about all the things we had seen during our hike and enjoying the cool, refreshing evening.
I guess we had been there long enough to blend in with the scenery, because all of a sudden we were joined by the cutest little forest creature! He even came right up to my feet and attempted to get a drink of my water! I’m sure the little guy is no stranger to people since he lives right by the lodge, but it still felt nice to be accepted and trusted with his presence. Stillness is one of the most important lessons to revisit on a regular basis.
The next day was more of a driving day and we didn’t do too much sight seeing. We found a good place to stay and after grabbing some dinner, Brad wanted to go for “short walk.” Ahem. SEVEN MILES LATER we were heading home for the night. I will admit that my initial resistance and irritation kept me from enjoying the journey, as they say, but when I finally decided to get over my upset and look around, I was in awe of all that surrounded us! We had gone deep enough away from the main road that we saw deer and moose and turkeys! The beautiful rocks of the canyon turned vibrant with the sunset and when I soaked it all in, it soothed my soul. The beauty was there the whole time\, of course. I just had to CHOOSE to see it to really get the benefits. Sometimes we resist the lessons, but when we relax, they are so much easier!
Our last big day was certainly a big finale! We hiked The Narrows at Zion National Park. I was a little nervous going in because I have never done a hike that is even a little bit in the water on purpose, much less a several hour hike in water almost the entire time. We had prepared with the right shoes and socks and all, but I just didn’t know what to expect.
In case you don’t know this, I can be a bit of a delicate flower. I don’t like to be wet, or dirty. I don’t like cold or wind. But with that said, if I KNOW ahead of time, I’m pretty good about being able to prepare myself and choose how I will respond. So, I went with as little expectation as possible, and an open mind for the experience. And OH MY GOODNESS. I’m not sure I have ever enjoyed a day of hiking more! Turns out I kinda like sloshing around in the water and not caring if I’m wet or not! Who would’ve guessed??? I got lost in the joy and wonder of it all probably BECAUSE I didn’t need or expect it to be anything. I was simply open for the experience to unfold in whatever way. I’m so happy I made this choice. It turned out to be one of my favorite vacation memories of all time!
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.
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!
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.
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:
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!
I must say, it’s been a weird few weeks. Strange days have turned into stranger weeks. So many things have changed, and then other things have oddly remained exactly the same. It’s kind of hard to keep track which is which sometimes! What day is it today anyway?
As the days have turned into weeks, and the weeks are turning into months now for our time of social distancing, in some ways I am feeling better. Calmer. Less anxious. What about you?
I often hear myself and others saying, “when this is all over…” or “after all this…” or “when things get back to normal…”
The thing is, these statements carry with them a “waiting” energy. Like, “when this is all over, THEN I can have my real life back.” Or, “after all this, when we get back to our real lives.” Or, “when things get back to normal, and we’re back to real life again.”
But are these statements really true? I mean – what’s happening right now, if not our real lives? Isn’t what’s happening now REAL??? I don’t know about you, but I have been VERY aware of reality these last many weeks! It’s impossible NOT to be aware that there are some very real threats to our health and well-being out there and we must change our habits and interactions to keep each other safe and well.
In the midst of all this, it can be a bit overwhelming, can’t it? It’s easy to see it all as a hardship and focus on all the things that are uncomfortable, or undesirable, or “bad” about our new ways of life. I will argue however, that we still have the most important choice at our disposable – perspective! We can CHOOSE to see today “just another day in isolation” OR another day to celebrate, enjoy, and be in awe and wonder of!
Today I am choosing to see the beauty that is inherent in TODAY, right now. Today has plenty of gifts of its own. I enjoyed a nice run in the cool of the morning. Made myself a berry smoothie. Spent some time stretching and rolling my muscles to care for them. Listened to a great webinar. And that was just the things that happened before lunch!
If I wasn’t choosing to see the beauty though, that narrative would sound completely different! “Another day in isolation. A run all by myself. Another smoothie. Another webinar, since all I have to entertain myself is this computer screen…I can’t wait for life to start back up…”
TODAY I choose to see the beauty in every part of my day. I choose to live the beautiful life I have right in front of me rather than waiting around for something that only exists in my imagination!
Want to add more beauty to your life through meditation? Check out this course I made for you! Cultivate Calm through Meditation: 4 weeks to bring meditation into your life.
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.
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.
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’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!
Have you had a rough day or week? Worse yet, have the last few weeks blurred from one bad day to the next?
What’s really going on here?
There are quite a few possibilities. Thankfully, many are benign. Maybe you:
If it’s one of these, no worries. An early night to bed, a nice walk, or a cup of coffee with a friend may be all you need to feel like yourself again.
When you get in that downward-spiral of worry, irritation, or frustration, things tend to get progressively worse. One negative thought leads to the next, and before you know it, it seems like all is lost.
One of the most effective ways to prevent a pitfall is to make a mental shift. The first question to ask yourself is – “What am I thinking about?” If your thoughts are not beneficial, you have an important choice to make. Choose to continue down this path of despair, OR, change your thoughts.
Rather watch? Check out this video!
1. Cultivate awareness.
This is a great way to make an immediate change out of the negative doom-loop. Notice yourself walking down the hallway. Feel your feet in your shoes. Pay attention to the pen in your hand. Appreciate the color of the paint on the walls. Take 20 seconds to look out the window and enjoy it.
If you’re ready for more, try this:
2. Recognize your inner dialogue and replace it with something more beneficial.
Don’t take the easy way out here! It’s all-too-easy to replace, “This job is eating my soul for lunch” with, “It’s all good” but still live in denial. This one can take some practice, but it’s worth it! What if “This job is eating my soul for lunch” became, “Helping people is why I chose this line of work. It’s not always easy, but it fills me with joy when someone is able to create a better life.”
Do you have a few minutes before your next appointment? If so, this next exercise can work wonders!
3. A simple breathing practice to energize and uplift!
Sit, stand or lie down. Inhale for the count of 4. Pause for 2. Exhale for 4. Pause for 2. Repeat 3-10 times. Do this with a robust breath! Really give it your all! You want a deep inhale and exhale to exchange lots of oxygen and utilize mental effort. This will take your mind off your previous thought pattern AND create a revitalizing energy in your body!
Preventing burnout is something you can do each and every day. Being aware and healthy sets the stage for being burnout-free. Give these tips a try and notice the results.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
So often, when we think about yoga and meditation, we think about it in terms of part of a “normal” weekly routine. But a couple groups of people who may not realize the extreme benefits are seniors and also caregivers. I recently virtually met a gentleman who works with these groups and he has a lot to share about the benefits and how to incorporate yoga and meditation into daily life for both of these groups of people. Read on to discover what Harry Cline from newcaregiver.org has to share!
It seems that everyone is embracing yoga and meditation, which is not surprising, as both practices offer some very real benefits. This is especially true for those of us in stressful lines of work, as well as seniors and their caregivers. If you’re curious about looking after your mental and physical health, it’s time to learn about yoga and meditation.
One of the best parts of yoga is that it is the perfect exercise for all body types and ages. It helps us lose weight and gain strength and stability, all while improving our moods and mental clarity. Yoga helps to reduce stress better than any other form of exercise, and it may be better for our overall health than aerobics. It can even lower pain levels in seniors.
Working out, especially as we age, carries with it the risk of injury. However, yoga reduces that risk through a focus on slow movement, stretching, and balance improvements. This becomes even more important in our golden years when we may not heal as quickly as we once did.
There are seemingly endless benefits to the practice, especially for seniors and caregivers, as it can also help us breathe more easily and even lower blood pressure. As for our mental health, yoga can help us better cope with anxiety, as well as lessen the symptoms of depression. And because mental health has connections to physical conditions (oral health, heart health, weight, etc.), you’ll also pay additional attention to your physical well-being. In other words, it really is one of the healthiest forms of exercise.
Another aspect of physical health that is benefited by yoga is your gut microbiome. Your gut is made up of trillions of bacteria that, according to research, can affect digestion, your immune system, and even your mood. The key to good gut health is proper diet and exercise to reduce stress levels and improve the function of all areas of your body. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise, since it can enhance digestion and increase the diversity of your microbiome.
Life can be stressful, especially if we have difficult or emotionally challenging jobs. Meditation is one way of lowering that stress and improving how we feel. It can even improve memory by increasing the amount of gray matter in our frontal cortexes. Meditation also helps us make better decisions and think more quickly on our feet, which is especially beneficial for caregivers. If you need to remember many details, or even simply want to improve your memory as you age, it might be wise to take up meditation. We know for a fact that meditation can reduce stress thanks to a study by the US military. The researchers monitored heart rates to measure stress levels and found that meditation was a sure fire way to lower anxiety levels over time.
Starting yoga does not need to be an intensive ordeal. To determine if you enjoy it, you don’t need to go out for classes, as this can be difficult for busy schedules and seniors. Thankfully, there are plenty of workout routines seniors and their caregivers can try at home thanks to websites like YouTube, exercise videos, fitness apps on our phones and tablets, and even things like Wii Sports. Look around and see what is available, and what appeals to you. There are also several lists for the best instructional videos, so do some research to find a practice that you might enjoy, fits your athletic level, and your timetable.
The sheer number of different kinds of meditation can be overwhelming; however, that also – means there are lots for you to choose from. Read up on the different methods of meditating before you jump in so you can find something you know would not be onerous to try. Some may prefer focused attention, which can have you adopt a mantra, rather than something like basic mindfulness. There are guided meditations available that benefits seniors and caregivers alike, and these are especially helpful if you have a hard time focusing. You can listen to soothing music, count beads, watch a candle, or practice deep breathing. There is even a walking meditation for those of us who need to be doing something to concentrate best.
You don’t need to change every aspect of your life to get healthier, whether you’re a caregiver or a senior. Yoga and meditation done for 20 minutes a day can see a marked improvement in our well-being. It’s time to prioritize wellness and give yourself the devotion you deserve. Meditation and yoga are two excellent ways to improve our focus, balance, and strength.
We TOTALLY underestimate how valuable breathing actually is! In this 10-minute video, I discuss some important info about breathing. Then watch until the end, where I lead you through three breathing exercises.
It’s easy to completely underestimate how vital breathing is to our well-being. Sure, we do it all day, every day. But how often do you take a few minutes to breath on purpose? In this video, I share some great info on how breathing affects us. Also, I share three great breathing exercises you can use starting today.
We recently talked about recognizing your first clue that overwhelm is coming on. You know, that thing that happens *just before* you slide down the slope of, “Oh my gosh! I can’t take it anymore.”
When you recognize that clue and use a tool to prevent the feeling overwhelm, burnout, and “I’m going crazy!” you set yourself up for prolonged success.
One of the tools that is the most effective in preventing that feeling of chaos and too-much-busy-ness is super simple. And when you use it, you can let go of the craziness of the day. Want to know what it is?
I know. It sounds too easy. And maybe even overdone. But it’s true. When you take the time to express gratitude for the people in your life and the small successes throughout the day, it really does change the way you perceive what’s happening to you. It even gives you the extra boost you may need to make it through what may be a truly challenging day.
When you take the time to acknowledge and celebrate throughout the day, for yourself and those around you, you set the stage for an improved experience and outlook. Simply pausing to enjoy the moment changes how you feel inside. When someone you work or live with does something well, tell them! You will both feel so happy inside!