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I am 38 weeks pregnant. 38 weeks of hormones, physical changes of the body, and growing a new bundle of love. I would be lying if I said I am one of those women that dotes over every moment of her pregnancy. Honestly I do make the EFFORT to use these changes as an opportunity to be a little more gracious, contemplative, and grounded.

Obviously this topic is consistently intertwined in mine and Timaries posts. I guess if it were simple to practice, neither of us would be teaching yoga!

So my post today is about patience. At 38 weeks, most pregnant women are ready to get the show on the road. All those little physical ailments start to interfere a bit with daily activities, and it can become quite exhausting.

When I went to the doctor this week and they told me nothing was happening yet labor wise, at first I was irritated. Why not? This is my second baby, surely my body and mind know what to do.

That’s exactly right. They know what to do. This week has encouraged me to really truly practice patience, be content with what is going on in my life NOW. Not anticipating what’s next.

How often are we stretching, obsessing and reaching towards the future, only to find we have lost the magic of the very moment we have? I encourage you to do the same today. It is such an uplifting thing to do, to stop the worry and start the contentment.

Today and now, I have a loving (and very patient!) husband who is here to help, love and support me. I have a precious son who is constantly reminding me to be fully present and has the innate innocence to back it up. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and family and friends who love and support me in each of their own unique ways. What do you have NOW?

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The Little Things

Once I get to work, my morning routine is to steep a cup of hot tea after my morning meeting.  I do this Monday through Friday without a second thought.  Knowing my love of tea, a co-worker sent me this really cool tea that has a thread-wrapped wire extending from a pyramid-shaped tea bag.  The shape of the tea bag keeps the tea from slipping to the bottom, and the wire allows you to easily pull the tea bag out of the water once it’s done steeping without burning your fingers!  On top of that, the wire has a little leaf at the end of it that bobs up and down and looks really cute.

I’m not writing to promote this tea, but to share with you my experience of happiness by this simple innovation.  On top of the great tea bag, I am drinking my tea out of my favorite mug, given to me from Ms. Sarah Oliver herself – reminding me that Life is GOOD!  And it really is.

Amidst the monotony of my routine, the simplicity of this tea bag and cup reminds me to appreciate the small things in my life.  It is truly the little things that have the ability to shift us.  In my experience, it’s not the big things that sustain happiness, (the purchase of furniture, clothes, going on a vacation,) although all of these big things I’ve mentioned are really nice, the excitement we feel for them wears off, (and our bank accounts feel the pain.)  On the other hand, taking a moment to find and appreciate the small things in your day can transform your day, daily!

I am personally so thankful for this sweet tea and cup from a wonderful friend.  What small things in your life lift your heart and bring a smile to your face?  Take some time to find something each day, and I promise, moments in your day will grow to be happier.

Murphy’s Law held true again.  One week after I posted Cold Buster – 5 ways to avoid getting a Cold or the Flu in the first place, I came down with the flu!  Of course I wasn’t thrilled with feeling terrible, and being confronted with the reality that I CAN get sick.  But the truth is, I am so thankful I got sick.

Here is what the Flu taught me:

1) MOST things I think are important and MUST get done, are really not  that important.  It can wait.  The laundry doesn’t all need to be foldedthank you and put away every time.  What I wear is not a total reflection of who I am.  The world will not stop spinning if I don’t finish something at work.

2) Although I may blame others for putting pressure on me to do certain things, they are not to blame.  I am.  I put this pressure on myself.  Being everywhere for everyone wears me thin, batty, and tired.  This is no good for anyone.  Sometimes you just have to kindly say no to yourself, or to someone else.  Do what you can, and let the rest go.

3) Complaining about others or situations will not make anything better.  I had no energy to complain, and it was liberating.  Just because others don’t do something exactly as you would have it done, doesn’t mean they are wrong.  And even if they are wrong on some level, complaining about someone else only puts strain on your own body, and wastes your time.

4) Moving mindfully, completing one task at a time, is blissful.  We may have a zillion tasks to complete, and we may get them all done, and may not.  Our real choice is, how will the day end?  Will we be stressed, exhausted and wound up?  Or relaxed and fulfilled with satisfaction of what we were able to finish?  Of course we want the latter!  To achieve this, fully focus your complete attention on each task you are completing. Resist the temptation to allow your mind to split and concern yourself with what you cannot do this instant.  When I had the flu, I only had the energy to focus on one item at a time – what a treat!

5) Being able to breathe through your nose is heaven.  Finally – there is nothing better than when you start to feel better after being sick.  You appreciate every breath, the fact that you can think clearly without a headache is reason to smile, and getting back to your mat, to your asana practice, or any form of exercise, becomes an act of thankful worship.

Inhale, Life IS Good.

Ahhhhhhh…the holiday decorations have been put away, the gifts have been put away, thank you cards have been written, and the house is clean again.  Most of you are probably back in your usual routines, or at least acclimating back into them.  January is the month of new beginnings…resolutions have been set, and many people genuinely stay or try to stay committed to them.

January can also be a tough month for folks.  The holidays can create a bit of a “high” for people, between the loved ones, the food, the gifts, ect.  But what goes up, must come down.  And often times this time of year can be difficult, as there is no distraction left from old man winter.  The house may seem a little too empty and things may seem a little too quiet.

oldmanwinter                                         He’s Baaa-aaack!  Old Man Winter

I myself am guilty of having the “winter blues,” and for any of you who have found yourself in a hole, ultimately we are the ones who have to take initiative to dig ourselves out.  I know what some of you (who may not know my crazy self well enough) are thinking…

”But you are a yoga teacher, don’t you teach others how to stay out of the hole?  Aren’t you always happy since you have all the tools and knowledge to stay away from that hole?”

My humbled answer is no.  I am human, and a teacher who only teaches what she knows and what she has gratefully learned from other teachers.  And in this human experience, it’s these moments like the winter blues that challenge me to go back to the books and teachings and meditate and pray to revisit the lessons learned.  So, like the blazing Texas sun is a reminder for Timarie, the grey overcast sky is a reminder of the lessons learned for me.

What this entry really is about are some helpful pointers to keep Old Man Winter at bay.  So here goes:

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1-Move it!-I am assuming if you are reading this blog, you might already practice yoga.  I am referring to aerobic exercise, or cardio.  Movement that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time is what is going help the brain actively release those “happy hormones,” or endorphins.  Shoot for 30 minutes a day most days of the week.

2-Bundle up-Even though, baby it’s cold outside.  Fresh air is really good for a healthy mind.  Maybe try a walk over your lunch break?  Or you and your honey could go for a 20-30 minute walk together when you get home from work.  One way or another, fresh air is proven to increase those happy hormones.

3-Real Human (NOT cyber) interaction-When one is in the hole, the last thing you want to do is be around people.  Often times it’s the lack of connection to others that makes us blue in the first place.  So give yourself a gentle kick in the pants to get involved in your community, whether it is a club, church, meetup, ect.  And if you don’t want to venture out, then invite your friends over!

4-D as in Dog-Vitamin D deficiency is a contributing factor to a dip in serotonin levels, aka happy hormones.  Have you had your Vitamin D levels screened?  If not, I encourage you to get the test done.  Best way to get Vitamin D is to soak up the sun, but considering the time of year a supplement may be necessary too.

5-Grub-After coming off the holiday season, we have a tendency to be somewhat addicted to carbs and simple sugars.  Ensure you are eating a colorful diet including lots of leafy greens, fruits and vegetables.  Your palate might not crave it right now, but your body still does!

6-Your indoor environment-There are a few changes you can make to your living arrangements to ensure your winter cave is conducive to a healthy mind.  Draw the blinds open and let the light in!  You can also add a little color therapy into your rooms by adding in some bright, cheerful colors.  Don’t forget to change the air filters and perhaps run an air purifier, too.  And lastly, perhaps reorganize your furniture to provide a more open feeling.

9-Sit Still!-Even if you can only sit and breathe for 5 minutes a day, take that time to oxygenate your body and mind!  Ever notice how happy children always seem to be?  This is not a coincidence!  They are pros at living in and embracing the present moment.

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Sources:

Bodyandhealth.com

Inhabitat.com

Acsm.org

Ill bet most of you are running one hundred miles per hour right now, getting ready for the holidays. Whether its last minute shopping, traveling across country, making those last minute recipes, or preparing yourself for seeing a lot of people in a short period of time…one thing is for sure. It can be a busy sometimes stressful time of year!

When we are practicing yoga poses, ever so often we will get more wrapped up in DOING the class. We listen to the teachers prompts, try to find more space and openness within each pose, and go through all the motions. We even set our intention before class. But it seems it is what happens in between all of these motions is what really matters. We start to breath deeper, we may find a longer moment of stillness within our minds, we may discover something new in our practice that was always there but we are just noticing with broader awareness for the first time.

As yogis, why don’t we try to try to be more aware of what goes on between all the typical holiday stuff? Soak in the whole experience with an open heart. Be more aware and sensitive to the stuff in between. Be more compassionate, more patient, more grateful for the little things that happen in between the usual holiday stuff.

There is nothing wrong with usual holiday stuff…there is just so much more to experience and enjoy if you give yourself permission to.

This week my husband and I found out the sex of the bun in the oven.  It turns out we are having a girl, and we both are extremely excited!  Since I already have a little boy, as a mother this will surely be a change of pace for me.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous about bringing more Yin into the family dynamic!

Hearing the news of our baby girl has encouraged me to take a step back this week and reflect on both the feminine and masculine aspects within my life and my yoga practice.  Why is this important?  Because in order to truly have balance within the body and mind, there should be balance within both the masculine and feminine components of oneself.yinyang

As yogi Sadhguru  Jaggi Vasudev explains, we live in a masculine world right now.  He further explains that one is not any better than the other and ultimately we should strive for balance between the two.  He states that masculine ideals are becoming more dominant in our world because the world is driven by the economic engine.  So the focus is survival, which is a masculine trait.  According to Sadhguru, being nurturing and spiritual is feminine and is not in balance with what is happening in our current world.

So my question is, what can we do within our practice to find balance within ourselves?  The world will continue to turn, and if this is the physical world we live in, we still have this wonderful opportunity to restore balance within ourselves.  The change has to start with oneself.

When we use our muscular energy to place ourselves in a yoga pose, we are working with our masculine energy.  Coming into alignment, using strong breathing, and a strong will to hold and progress the pose are all masculine.  But what would your practice be like if you didn’t flow between any of the poses, didn’t use your intuition to guide your body into the right space, or didn’t keep the breath moving throughout your practice?  OR didn’t allow yourself to have fun?  You guessed it…these are all feminine qualities of our practice.

We are blessed in that most of us live in a place and time where survival within our bodies and minds is not where it needs to stop.  We have this wonderful opportunity to progress spiritually as well.  Same goes for our yoga asana practice.

Next time you take a yoga class or practice on your own, observe which qualities in your practice are more dominant.  Are you gentle and nurturing with yourself, to the point of not allowing a pose progress?  Or do you have a tendency to muscle through it all, are very good at finding your alignment, are constantly creating goals for yourself, but don’t allow any room for creativity or intution?  Whatever you discover, chances are a similiar thing is happening in your daily life, too.  I encourage you to strive to find more balance in both!

A few days ago, I spent nearly the entire day in intentional silence with other people – no watches, no television, no phones, no internet, no facebook, no small talk – just me, myself, and Mother Nature.  It was one of the most therapeutic, enriching and inexpensive treatments I have ever participated in!  It’s something worth considering…

This time of year especially, it’s so easy to buzz around from task to task, get stressed because we’re not completing our list of tasks, start to resent the people we’re doing tasks for, get frustrated at strangers for not intuitively knowing they’re impeding on our ability to quickly complete tasks, and so on…the result is we completely lose sight of our intention for our actions and our life.  Can you relate?  I can!Green Earth Space

What is YOUR PURPOSE for this life of yours?  What is YOUR intention?  These are big questions, and I assure you that the answer is not going to come to you as you are bouncing around frantically. 🙂  As I’m learning through the Handel Method, one of the key elements to achieving true liberation and happiness is not by buying more things, (which I think most of us KNOW, but most don’t practice,) or hanging out with more friends, or drinking more wine, or getting our relatives and significant others to do EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT…the key to achieving true liberation and happiness is by identifying your Purpose for your life, and identifying your Intentions for accomplishing that Purpose.  From there, we can design our interactions, our responses, our choices, towards INTENTIONALLY accomplishing this Purpose.  Similar to how we feel in our physical bodies when we practice yoga and our joints and vertebrae are in alignment – when our actions and speech are in alignment with our intention and purpose, we feel liberated and happy.

Here’s a simple example – Most of my friends have children, and I hear all of the time the guilt they feel when they lose their cool with their kids.  Most parents want to be loving, yet strong guardians for their children.  However, when they yell, they feel fraudulent, because their intention is to be a loving and strong guardian, not a tyrant.  Why did they yell?  Because they lost sight of their intention and simply allowed the heat of the moment to take over and drive.

Creating a stronger connection to our intention through Meditation and Silence is like strengthening a muscle – we get better at it the more we practice.  For the very same reason that we all should practice Meditation, (see Sarah’s Beginner’s Guide to Meditation,) I participated in this day of Silence, of respite.  If a full day of silence is not possible for you, I encourage you to set aside a few hours.  Tell your family and friends up front about your plans to do this.  Go outside, sit in silence, journal, take a siesta from connecting to everyone else, and connect with yourself.  You will discover a lot.

With much love.  Namaste.

(I am asked a lot what Namaste means!  In the yoga community, it has evolved to mean: “the light within me salutes the light within you.”  We will write a post about this later. :))

For those of you that have interest in starting a meditation practice but are not necessarily sure how to start, this blog entry is for you!  Let me preface this by saying I am by no means what would be considered “good” at meditation.  What gives me encouragement is many individuals who have a consistent practice also claim they are not good at mediation, either.  Besides, what defines being good at meditation anyways?  Most would probably say having the ability to be fully present in the mind and body.  Here are a few guidelines to get you started:

1) If you are just getting started, begin by laying down.  Yes, I know what you are thinking…”But that’s not what it looks like in magazines or in movies!”  You are correct.  But many of these individuals have been practicing for some time.  Start laying down so that the physical body does not become a distraction.  When you are asked to sit in lotus position with a straight spine, I can assure you it becomes distracting very quickly.  You may work towards this position with time.

2) Close your eyes and do a head to toe scan of your physical body.  Start at the crown of the head and work your way down to the toes. Anywhere you feel tension, take a few breaths and send the breath there.

3)  Turn your attention inward by steadying the mind with a focal point.  A great focal point to work with is the breath.  Just observe how the breath moves in and out of the body and let the natural breathing pattern occur.  If this isn’t enough, start to count your breaths.  You could also use a mantra (a word or phrase of words that you repeat over and over again.)  Another nice option that I did in my training with Sunstone is to use binaural beats.  These are sound waves that help to calm and steady the mind and you can download many free apps that offer this option.  Just make sure you use your headphones or it doesn’t work properly!

4)  Meditation is a judgment free zone, so if the mind wanders, just gently guide your awareness back to your focal point of choice.  This is something to be celebrated, not frustrated over!  One of the biggest challenges in meditation is to recognize when the mind has wandered so if you do this, be happy you noticed.

5)  Start slow-maybe just 5 minutes to begin and then build up the time.  Meditation is a skill, so it takes practice.  Also know that some days it will be easier than others.  This is because our minds and bodies are never in the same state, so accept what your practice is every time.

6)  Keep practicing!  Find a time that works best for you every day if you can.  In the yoga world, the best time to meditate is dawn but many of us like our sleep or are already out the door by this time.  Perhaps try before bed or even over your lunch break.

7)  Lastly, know that you are doing very good things for the body and the mind.  Meditation is excellent in calming the nervous system, as well as the cardiovascular system.  When we take the time to be still, we get a little closer to our true self.  When we get closer to our true selves, we have the ability to reason better and understand ourselves and others better.

Enjoy!  We would love to hear how your journey in building a calmer, more fully present mind works for you.

“Be at peace with everyone in your life – most particularly, your relatives” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

I have to be honest; I love this time of year!  From Halloween through Christmas, the shift in the air is exhilarating and cherished.  I love the comfort foods, bundling up and taking walks or curling up on the couch to read a book.  But this time of year also brings its share of challenges as we’re brought into closer quarters with certain family members, and maybe friends, who get under our skin.  Most of us have one to a few family members that really, really challenge us to keep the peace that we seek.  I’m writing this to help you set your intention on keeping your peace this Holiday Season.  There is a beautiful chapter in Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book The Power of Intention that deals with just this, and is where my inspiration to share this with you is coming from.

We usually have two reactions in “dealing” with these relatives:  1) Be inauthentic to keep the peace, 2) Blow up at them to put them in their place.  And consequently,  days or weeks before we see them, we anticipate one of these two things happening in our minds, and feel anxious about our meeting.  Truly, I only know this, because I have done this!  We are all so similar. 🙂 By having these thoughts of anxiety, we are subscribing ourselves to remove peace from our own lives.  (As evidence, notice your body contract or become tense with just these thoughts.)  This is you removing the peace from your life.  You are doing it.  Not your relative.

What you think about expands in your life.  With your reaction, you have decided to make your relatives’ thoughts or opinions more important than your own convictions or intentions.  As much as they may annoy, criticize, outrage or judge you, you have consented to feel or react accordingly.  No one can truly make you feel anything, but yourself.  Since most days, we don’t recognize this truth, this person now has power over us.  And by thinking and behaving reactionary, we have completely removed the peace from our own life.

To really transform our relationships, we have to take an honest look at ourselves.  In many situations, the tension we feel, is a reflection of what is amiss within ourselves – otherwise, none of this would bother us.  If we are peaceful and accepting within ourselves, there is no room for non-peace because peace would fill the space.  You can shift the pattern of negativity by subscribing only to thoughts that make you feel expansion within your heart, your body.  You will physically feel the difference.  Here’s an exercise to try: sit for 2 minutes, close your eyes, and visualize embracing someone you love, talking with an old friend, or seeing something you find beautiful.  Take full inhales and exhales.  When the 2 minutes are up, notice how light you feel after just 2 minutes!   For 2 minutes, you set your intention to shift your thoughts and to invite peace into your life. 

How can you really practice this in your life?  Before you see this person, set your intention for peace within yourself by connecting with your highest self.  When you see this person, and they do or say something that would have outraged you in the past, remember your intention for peace within yourself.  Take a deep breath, and respond.  Peace means laying down, but laying down gives you strength.  One of my favorite quotes is “You can’t beat out darkness with a baseball bat, you have to turn on the light” – anonymous.  The change must come from you.

Our family members may still behave the same, but when we have changed, we will not be affected or at the mercy of their control.  When you practice this act of connecting to your higher self, and to lovingly accept your own authenticity and your own convictions, you withdraw yourself from interacting with lower energies.  When your relative says something outrageous, where you would have previously reacted with judgement by rolling your eyes or making a maliscious comment back, look at them sweetly, and smile lovingly at them instead. If you choose to speak, respond kindly by your tone and your words.   Yes, do it.  Trust me, you will feel so good if you do!

We will never change others, without first changing ourselves.   The only way to change the situation is to shift yourself, and you will feel the energy change.  You will feel the wind fall out of their sails.  You may even rub off on them, and eventually, may look forward to seeing those people who you used to dread seeing.  Imagine that!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.   Give your family a hug with gratitude for all that they teach you.

My son, Ryder loves when we play the piano together.  Notice I said together.  It’s actually quite commical, as he doesn’t like it when either him or I play alone.  He will not sit on the piano bench alone, and will beg “Mama, sit!”  over and over again until I join him.  If I am on the bench alone and start to play, he says “Mama, noooooo!”  and then he climbs up the bench and places his little fingers on the keys, smiles up at me and then gives me the green light by saying “Okay!”

I am forever and continuously grateful to my son for reminding me what is important in life.  The lesson HE has taught ME with piano is to stay in touch with my creative/artistic side.

Ryder and I playing Claire De Lune

Why do many of us lose touch with our creative side as we age?  Perhaps it is a result of getting caught up in the daily grind and we just don’t have or make the time.  Maybe it’s because we exist in a world where being a creative individual is not as acceptable as it used to be.  Or maybe living in the midst of a massive technology boom makes it too easy not to be creative.  Whatever it is, one thing is for sure:  many of us are not being creative.

In our yoga practice, we honor and celebrate both the collective self and the individual self.  In other words, we not only practice to improve our relationship in our external world, we also practice to improve our relationship with and within ourselves.  So why then don’t we do the same in our daily lives?  It’s easy to blame others, but ultimately at the end of the day we always have the opportunity to improve our personal relatioship with ourself.

Which brings me full circle to why the creative process is important for each of us.  Being creative enables us to fully express ourselves, to be intuitive, and to trust ourselves.  It enables us to get in touch with the true self, that inner voice within each of us that we can listen to and get to know better from a place of nonjudgement.

So beyond your yoga mat, I encourage you to start or get back to something creative.  Perhaps painting, pottery, sewing, writing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument…the list goes on.  Whatever it is, shake the dust off and enjoy.  You might surprise yourself with what type of creative process shows up!