Category Archives for "yoga"

Well grounded and flying high. Start your day off right!

One of my favorite things to do in yoga class is inversions and arm balances. I love the feeling of strength and balance and the playfulness of being upside down! I know, I know. Some of you are probably thinking about how much you HATE arm balances and inversions, right? They don’t seem grounded or they seem scary, or wobbly, or disorienting. Guess what?

I used to feel that way too.


But I kept at it. At first I kept at it mostly because my friends in yoga class liked them and so I thought I might as well try. And so I did. And I failed.

Over. And over. And over.

And then I went to an Anatomy and Alignment for Yoga class and it changed everything.

See, up until that class, I thought that one day these poses would just magically work out for me. Also, I didn’t really get how important it was to build the poses and work with my body to set it up for success. These poses had taken me to a place of insanity – you know, trying the same thing over and over while hoping for a different result. I wasn’t thinking ahead at all.

I didn’t understand how important my planning was to my success.

Once I understood how vital it is to make sure each pose is grounded well and then move from a strong and focused core – I could do it! As a result, these previously inaccessible poses were instantly at my disposal! I’m not saying I was perfect at them the next day. Not at all.

What changed is that now I had a PLAN!

I knew how to build my strength and balance so that it was possible for me to do the poses. I knew that if I continued to practice with this new knowledge, that it wouldn’t be long until I could do these poses. Finally, it worked! Now I can do any arm balance or inversion at any time. I can do them in yoga clothes! I can do them in jeans or shorts! I can do them at the yoga studio! I can do them at the gym or in my house or at the park! (I do feel a bit like Dr. Suess, right now! Green Eggs and Ham, anyone?)

(Also, if you want more info on arm balances, Check out this article I wrote for the YogaFit blog on Crow Pose.)

And, as happens with most of the things I learn on the mat, this lesson transfers well off the mat.

When I am frustrated with something and it feels like I am not improving or can’t figure out how to get something “off the ground,” I am reminded of this realization from yoga. For a pose to “fly,” it must be well-grounded and there must be a plan! The two things go hand in hand.

Does this sound dreamy to you?

And maybe a tiny bit impossible?

Well, it’s not impossible at all! Start with the center and core of the goal you want to accomplish. Once you start there and create a plan – you can do it!

How’s your schedule?

Ahhh, summer. How I love thee. The endless days of sunshine, the radiant heat that warms all the way to my bones, the lemonade, the pool, the release of the school-year schedule. So relaxing. So wonderful.

I do love summer.

You see, I have the amazing privilege of being able to relax my schedule a bit in the summer. A little less work, more time with the kids, a little sleeping in from time to time. And it’s such a nice break from the super early busy-ness of the school year and all the after-school activities, etc.

But even breaks can have their downside when they last a long time.

As I look at my planner and see that school starts again next week, I find myself feeling like I am ready. Ready for the excitement and a new schedule. Ready for increased productivity. Even ready for the change of the weather! Although I LOVE the ridiculously hot summers here in the desert, I know that the variation in the weather keep me appreciating my favorite times of the year.

I also love having my daily routines and more things to do on my schedule. I enjoy that I get more things done during the school year. The change in the air also leans into a change in me.

I must admit…

For the last couple of weeks I have been kinda hard on myself. Feeling like it has been way too long since I have gotten much done. Too long since I spent a few hours doing the work that I love to do. As I was telling my friend about this, she helped me to re-evaluate. She showed me that while the outward productivity has been down, I have spent a good deal of time and energy doing some internal work and also laying foundations for projects I am working on launching in the fall. So, while there’s not a lot to show on the outside, yet…. I am doing valuable work nonetheless. And even if I all I had done for the past few weeks was rest and enjoy summer, that’s great too! We all need times to pull back, take our minds off of work and do something different. When we do, we come back to our work with a new creativity and refreshed love for our work.

Now for the good part!

With my new schedule starting up next week, I am in preparation mode. You know, dusting off my calendar, getting my pens and pencils all in order and thinking about how I want to spend my days. Because the nature of my work ebbs and flows with the school year, I have a built-in opportunity to re-evaluate and re-construct my daily routines if I so desire. And I usually do change things up a bit.

Here’s how I do it:

I start with the things that are important to me – daily meditation, exercise, business goals, reading, etc. And time with family, rest and time with friends DEFINITELY makes that list! We all need things in our weekly routine that give us joy and a chance to connect with our loved ones.

Need meditation_Then, I look at the things that are beyond my control (school start times, class times for the yoga classes I teach at the local country club, family time, etc.) and then begin to put things by most important first. So, I start with meditation. I know I am the best me when I start (and usually end) the day with meditation. It’s super easy for me to hit the ground running in the morning. But when I stop for 20 minutes to center myself and connect with the Divine, I handle my day in an entirely different way. Need a meditation? Grab this one – it’s on me!

flight of the birdNext up is exercise. Also too easy to let it slide through the cracks if it’s not on the schedule. I also make a point to tell my friends and family what I plan to do and when I plan to do it. If I don’t, then I will push it aside if someone wants to plan a get-together. Telling them helps me keep it a priority. How about some yoga? Check out this simple practice.

You get the idea, right? I know I’m not telling you anything new. I just know when I’m ready to start fresh, this is my process and it helps to review it! Start with the big things – what’s MOST important to your health (spiritual, mental, physical, AND emotional)? And then go from there. That way, if you find yourself running out of time blocks before you have all the activities on the calendar, then the things that don’t make the cut are the LEAST important things instead of the MOST important things!

Do you like this, but wish there was MORE? I will be doing a series of webinars this month where we will unravel the mysteries of relieving mid-day stress, creating mindful daily plans, and designing a restful sleep strategy! Click here to get the updates so you don’t miss a thing!

What to do when. . .Tips for nurturing

I know it’s happened to you. And it happened to me just last week. Let me take you there:

The week has been kinda busy, but not too bad. I am heading out for a yoga training, and truly excited to be going. I gather all my stuff and a good friend arrives to take me to the airport. As we open the door to take my luggage out, my dog Finley, who is typically very well-behaved, decides this is the best possible time to run out the front door! Seriously?!?! She’s off like a shot and we can’t find her anywhere. We walk down the street, we drive around the neighborhood. No dog. And it’s time to go! I can’t spend anymore time looking for her, so I call my husband who’s at work and THANKFULLY someone has already found her and just called him to let him know. Whew. We make it to the airport in time and I get on my flight. I arrive at my connecting airport, have a fantastic dinner and get on flight number two. Once I arrive at my destination, I get my rental car. I can’t locate my phone charger right away, so I opt to use the car GPS instead. This creates the first snafu (that I’m aware of). The darn thing doesn’t work very well and I end up getting lost three times. Ugh. It’s late and I need to get to bed! I (finally) arrive at my hotel. As is my common practice, I get all my materials ready before calling it a night only to realize that I have left MULTIPLE items on one flight or the other! Including my phone charger (brand new, of course) and other items that I could really use this weekend. Sigh. I won’t bore you with the rest of the weekend, but suffice it to say that this first evening on the way to my hotel was only the TIP of the iceberg!

So what did I do? How did I survive the craziness (mostly caused by myself)? It took all my efforts and, honestly, it has taken me a few days to recover. I took out all the stops and went immediately into nurturing mode!

If you have felt this way, and wondered what to do, perhaps some of these ideas will help as you develop a nurturing environment:

  • Snuggle on the couch with a soft blanket.
  • Use a grounding essential oil. I love Balance Blend from doTERRA, but any of the woody or resin-y oils work really well here. White Fir, Frankincense, Sandalwood, etc.
  • Take a bath with Epsom Salts and/or add your essential oil.
  • Eat heavier, soothing, unctuous foods. Think soups, root veggies, etc. Earthy foods!
  • Rest when you can. Even a 10 minute rest can work wonders.
  • Allow more than enough time between appointments. Hurrying will only make things worse!
  • Give yourself the same grace and compassion you would give your child or best friend. Sometimes we are simply too hard on ourselves and our expectations are too high.
  • Stay away from those cravings! Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol – all those things will exacerbate the issue. Show yourself love with real food and nurturing care. Drink plenty of water.
  • Meditate. Maybe a few times a day! If this is new or you have a hard time with it, I highly recommend getting a Meditation App on your phone. There are so many to choose from. A few of my favorites: Headspace, Mindful, Calm, Meditation Studio.
  • Carry a favorite crystal or wear a favorite piece of jewelry. Sentimental things can really help us feel nurturing through yogacalm, connected and relaxed. Grounding stones include: Bloodstone, Hematite, Smoky Quartz, Black Tourmaline, Black Kyanite, Garnet, Tiger’s Eye.
  • Use a mantra or affirmation. The most important aspect of a mantra of affirmation is that you state what you WANT, not what you don’t want! So, instead of, “I am getting over being so tired all the time,” it would be much more effective to say, “I am giving my body the rest it needs and enjoying the energy I have!”
  • Get a massage or have some energy work done. Is there anything more nurturing than this?
  • Go to yoga class! For releasing stress and regaining focus I recommend a Gentle or Restorative Class. There are plenty of other days to do Power Yoga. This time is for ultimate care!

I know this list isn’t exhaustive, but hopefully you found at least one tool you can use to help you get over “one of those days!” It has taken concentrated effort, but I am definitely on the mend and I am feeling very nurtured by my steps towards this level of loving care.

I’d love to hear from you! What’s your favorite way to care for yourself in the middle of a crazy day, week, or time of life? We have all discovered ways to work through difficult times. Let’s share them together!

Yoga, football, earthquakes and you.

I was at a yoga training recently (the one where I learned about PTSD) and our trainer mentioned that, in our culture, while we obsessively work to strengthen our core, the truth of the matter is that our core is most likely too strong! This really got me to thinking because pretty much every one of my private clients and loads of my class-based students, if given the chance, will pick a core emphasis. I must admit, I really like to talk about the core and emphasize it, too. So, I’m kinda thinking her observation is probably right on target.
After hearing this, I decided to try an experiment with my Monday/Wednesday class. For two weeks, we explored the concept of “enough” in our practice. We would find the basic support needed for each pose and then spend the next few breaths releasing all the muscular effort that wasn’t absolutely necessary to hold the pose. It was a fascinating experiment! While we did not walk away from those two weeks feeling like we could scale the Grand Canyon or complete a 100-Mile Ultra-Marathon, we discovered an entirely different type of strength.
We noticed that we became more internally-focused. We felt deeper sensations in each pose. We began to breathe more deeply. We started to understand what “enough” in a pose feels like. And we became more philosophical. Well, at least I became more philosophical.

As I recognized patterns in my own body that had me clutching my quads and toes in every pose, I wondered what my body could be telling me. Here are some of the things I wondered about:

  • Could it be that true strength comes from allowing movement and flexibility rather than rigid support? I thought about high-rise buildings constructed in earthquake zones. The buildings that are rigid topple over when the stress of the earthquake comes. The buildings that survive are the ones with the ability to sway and move with the shifting of the earth.
  • Football players and other professional athletes who practice yoga and/or ballet (or any activity thatyoga football earthquakes and youcounter-balances all the hard strength work on the field) seem to have more resilience and less injuries than their counterparts who only pump iron and continually push harder and longer. When we balance strength work with flexibility work, does this create a deeper, truer strength that is more functional and keeps us more injury-free? The answer to this one is yes and is actually pretty well-documented and accepted. I just felt it and realized in my own body to a much deeper degree during this practice.
  • When I was able to come to the place in each pose where I had truly released all the unnecessary work in my body, I noticed something very intriguing. My body would start to gently sway from side to side or forward and backward. Sometimes they swaying would go pretty far, far enough that I wondered if I might actually fall out of the pose. But, I never did. My deeper core muscles seem to be quite responsive and as the swaying would get to the place where I thought I would certainly come out of the pose, it would gently begin to sway the other direction. This sensation actually became very comforting as I allowed it to happen.
I’m not saying that we should only meander through life and never strive for anything at all. But what I do wonder is if there are areas in our lives where it would do us some good to release the unnecessary effort and explore what “enough” effort is. What can I let go of that isn’t really needed? Can I allow the movement in a situation to happen freely and trust that my deeper core will know when it’s time to sway the other direction?
What do you think about this? Have you experienced anything like this before? I would love to hear your thoughts!

I can’t touch my toes

One of the most common things people say to me when they walk into yoga class for the first time is this, “I just want to warn you, I can’t touch my toes.” Or even better, “I shouldn’t really be here, I’m SO inflexible.” I always try to reassure people when they feel unsure. These things just take time.

A few weeks ago, I could have said the same kinds of things in a different arena…

I am learning something new right now.

I am learning how to start a business that is primarily virtual. I’ve had a couple of those party-model businesses (Creative Memories, anyone?) and even a brick-and-mortar type business (yoga studio), but never a business that was pretty much dependent on the world-wide-web (the information super-highway, the internet) for its existence.

It’s kinda scary.

And VERY cool!

But, I didn’t know how to do it at first (and am still learning). As I looked at what it would take to get the thing up and going and making money, I was stumped. So I read a bunch of stuff and talked to some people. Then I realized that I still didn’t really know enough to make it fly. So, I enrolled myself in a course on how to create an online business (with Hibiscus Moon) because I needed some help and some guidance.

On the first day of the course, I wanted to scream (virtually, of course) that “I don’t know what I’m doing! I shouldn’t really be here because this is my first time at online business and I don’t know how to set up my online marketing!”

It’s felt kinda like walking into yoga class and being worried that you can’t touch your toes.

OF COURSE YOU CAN’T TOUCH YOUR TOES THE FIRST TIME YOU WALK INTO YOGA CLASS! (well, actually you can…but that’s another discussion for another day)

No one expected me to know what I was doing yet – except me.

It’s kind of funny how we come to class expecting to already know or be able to do what the class is teaching. We expect ourselves to be experts at everything.

I would like to suggest that we be gentle with ourselves. Like the kind of gentleness we would have for our best friend or our child as they try something really hard for the first time. When it’s someone else, we absolutely give them room and permission to fail a million times in the trying. We encourage them and give them helpful advice (if we have any) and know that they will get it!

What if we took that same encouraging spirit and applied to our self the next time we walk into yoga class, or a business training, or trying meditation or whatever it is we want to do? Imagine the freedom we would feel if we knew it was ok to not already know how to do it! Imagine how we wouldn’t feel pressured to perform if we truly believed it was ok to mess up the first zillion times! My goodness, I dare say we might even ENJOY learning something new!

I have learned a ton and know I will learn a ton more. And I am having a GREAT time – with the trying, the failing, the trying again and everything in between.

What new thing is coming up in your world? Where can you show yourself some grace and support as you learn?