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.

I don’t know how many of you love the digital age, but most of the time I am very thankful for the convenience.  This afternoon, however; I spent about 4 hours sorting through and cleaning up all the pictures we have taken with our digital camera since my son Ryder was born.  Um yeah…Ryder was born almost two years ago.  So I went through and cleaned up 1900+ photos.  It was rather time intensive to say the least, but at the same time very enjoyable.  Watching our son grow from newborn to toddlerhood encouraged me to reflect on the love I feel for my family.  The reason I was sorting through these photos was to make room for the baby daughter we will be having in three months.

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At one point, an overwhelming amount of fear and self doubt overcame me.  Could I love my daughter as much as I love my husband and son?  Did I have enough space in my heart to love another human being this much?  And why had I conjured up in my head that there wasn’t enough room left in my heart to love another so much?

For those of us that practice yoga, we all know that we alone are fully responsible for finding and becoming more aware of this space.  Most of us start a physical practice to find more openness in our bodies.  Then, as we start to open up more in our bodies, many of us start to draw our attention inward.  We start to realize that just as the body is organic and can change through our will, so can our hearts and minds.  We start to peel off our protective armor we have created for ourselves through the practice of meditation, compassion, forgiveness and love to name a few.  And with practice, we start to give our hearts more freedom to fully love.

It is the natural human condition to want to both give and receive love.  Sometimes, we allow our minds to get in the way of our hearts.  Through past experiences and memories, future stressors and worries, we convince ourselves it is not okay to just BE and FEEL sometimes.  And that is what I think children teach us.  It is what I think yoga teaches us.  It is such a basic lesson, yet it requires constant reminding and practice.

So where did this fear about not loving my daughter originate from?  I don’t know, but I guarantee it had nothing to do with the present moment.  Just as we continue to have new family members and relationships as we age, our ability to love more people grows with us.  Love is expansive, endless, and forever growing within each of us…if we allow it to.

I encourage you to give yourself permission not to always lead with your head.  We were given a heart and soul for a reason.  Trust it and give it a little more freedom.

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

Being in the health and wellness field, I am often asked how it is that I don’t seem to get sick.  Here are a few simple things you can do to avoid getting the flu or a cold in the first place, without chemicals and major expense.

1) Reduce Stress – Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system, our flight or fight response.  This response increases the hormone adrenaline, which then increases our heart rate and blood flow.  Back in the day, we developed this response in order to increase our chances Meditationof survival when chasing down food, or running from becoming food.  The body focuses on protecting all vital organs and functions when under stress, and all non-vital functions go by the wayside.  Examples of non-vital functions are our immune system, reproductive system, etc.

As a result, if we want to stay healthy, we need to find ways to reduce stress…like practicing yoga, getting more sleep, and meditation. 🙂  Most days, I meditate for at least 5 minutes per day, and usually in the morning before I’ve begun my day.  If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.  Meditation is just focusing on one thing…instead of worry, focus on your breath, your gratitude for something in your life, or your intention for a good day – these are just a few examples.  Check out this Stanford study on stress:  http://killerstress.stanford.edu/

2) Neti Pot 1 -2x per day when you’re not feeling well, use all of the time if you suffer from allergies.  If you don’t know what this is, go to Walgreens or CVS and ask the pharmacist to show you where it is in the store.  Click on the link to learn more about this simple and easy remedy.  This is so effective and simple, everyone should have one in their home!

3) Green Tea – I try to drink as much green tea as I possibly can.  Green Tea is rich with antioxidants in the form of Catechins.  One of the teabagmany benefits of Catechins is that it helps boost the immune system.  Green Tea also has an element that increases the good bacteria in your intestines and stomach, helping you combat future colds.  (I do want to add that it’s been proven that adding milk to your tea changes the chemical composition of the tea and reduces its benefits.)  Read more on the many benefits of Tea:  Dr. Pratt on Tea

4) Avoid Antibiotics, Z pack, etc – I try to stay clear of antibiotics for the common cold or flu. By definition, antibiotics are anything that destroy bacteria or inhibit their growth.  Sounds great, except that this means the antibiotics will kill ALL the bacteria in your body.  Unfortunately, it can’t tell the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff, and the good stuff residing in our intestines and stomach lining actually help to prevent us from getting colds.  Once you’re on the antibiotic wagon, it’s tough to get off.  Keep the good bacteria up, keep your immune system primed, and the common cold might not be as common in your life!  Bacteria and Colds

5) Lastly, and I know we might not like this one, but eat HEALTHY.  Your car doesn’t run well when you put junk into it, and neither do you.  If it’s impossible for you to eat healthy regularly, then at least try to feed your body with the good stuff when you’re sick.  The good news iveggiess, in the winter months, we need to eat more filling foods to protect our bodies from the cold.  Avoid canned, processed and frozen foods and eat fresh fruits that are in season, vegetables, and root vegetables, (sweet potatoes, radish, beets, carrots,) instead.  If you’re meat eater, try to buy meat that is from grass-fed or free range animals.  Incorporate foods that include live bacteria, such as certain kinds of yogurt, to keep the stomach lining full of good cold-fighting bacteria.  Most of our colds originate in our bellies!  Check out our Recipes, and next time we run our Sugar Challenge or Wellness Challenge, join us!  The quickest way to bust your bad habits is to join an accountability team.  Eating well will change your life, and increase your pocket-book.

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.

A few years ago, while cleaning my shower and nearly suffocating by the fumes, I scratched my head about the chemicals I was inhaling and possibly absorbing through my skin.  I knew the shortness of breath I was experiencing and scratching in my lungs couldn’t mean that the chemical cleaner was healthy.  Yea, it cleans, but I don’t feel so well afterwards, and my house stinks like chemicals.  Plus, my dog (or future child) could grab this and die.  Not so good!  So, my quest began.

I was sadly disappointed with several options – most Earth Friendly and Healthy cleaners leave something to be desired.  They dissolve and cut MOST of the dirt and grime, but if I wanted to get deep into cleaning, I had to scrub, and scrub, and scrub and scrub.  But, recently, I discovered a combination that hits even the chemical cleaners out of the park – Citra Solv  concentrate, white distilled vinegar and water.  You can’t get anymore simple than this!  I’ve been testing this out for several weeks now before sharing it with you, and I promise you, you will not be disappointed!  It cleans my sinks without scouring, it makes my tile floors look like new, I also use it on my countertops and in my shower.  Citra Solv has many other uses without the water and vinegar, like cleaning up pet messes, and leaving a fresh scent behind…very thankful to that, and well worth the investment!  (If you click on the links I’ve placed for Citra Solv, you’ll find all of its many uses.)

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Here are the directions for my new Green, Human Body Friendly, and Beautifully Aromatic all-purpose cleaner:

2 ounces Citra Solv

4 ounces white distilled vinegar

26 ounces water

Play around with the mixture to see what works best for what you’re trying to use it for.

On a side note – I like this better than just using vinegar and water because it cuts the grime better, I can’t smell the vinegar, and leaves my house smelling fresh.  If you have marble countertops, you can just use the Citra Solv and Water.

You can find Citra Solv online, or at most health food stores.

 

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. :))