Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Yoga on the Go!

Tomorrow we leave for the sunshine state. And as I'm mentally prepping for sand, sun and fun I'm still physically prepping (read: packing) as well. The b-man (my pup) is ready for camp and his stuff is all packed in my car. After dropping him off I'm treating myself to a much needed mani/pedi and then finishing up some last minute running around before my yoga class tonight.

This, coupled with the normal stress that comes from traveling, is making it hard for me to stay grounded. So here's a little sequence I indulge in to help keep me centered:

Start in your mountain pose. Spread your toes and root down through all four corners of your feet. Hug the thighs in creating a secure connection to the ground. Inhale and lift through the torso, creating space within your upper body. Roll the shoulders back and open up the heart center. Relax hands at sides.

Sweep your left hand up to the sky and reach it over your head to the right side creating a fabulous stretch along the left side of your body. Repeat on the other side.

Inhale and sweep both arms overhead, connecting the palms together and looking up at the sky. Exhale and fold over into a gentle forward bend. Allow the neck to relax and release all tension. If you can reach the floor, then go ahead and relax your hands down on the ground. If they don't reach, go ahead and cross the arms bringing each hand to the opposite elbow and continue to relax into your forward bend.

Once you're seated (whether on a plane, train, or in a car) take a moment to ground and connect to your surroundings. Then, sitting up straight, take both hands to the right armrest of your chair. Gently inhale lengthening your torso. As you exhale, turn the torso to the right using your hands on the armrest to gently guide you into a spinal stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.

Next, gently lift one leg and hug the knee into the chest, but keep the torso lengthened and allow the spine to remain straight. Again, repeat on other side - we always want to stay balanced!

Finish with some gentle neck and shoulder rolls before relaxing comfortably and enjoy your trip!

Monday, April 27, 2009


I'm beyond excited for my upcoming trip and have spent heaps of time scouring the internet for fun things to do while there. I've inundated hubby p with emails scattered with links to interesting things I've found. That's the best part of going somewhere new - getting to experience new things. Now, since this trip is both business and pleasure, we won't have that much downtime so planning ahead is a must as time is scarce, but I'm sure we'll find ways to make the most of it.

I spent today prepping and made trips to the drugstore for carry-on friendly essentials, the mall for a last minute mini-shopping spree and the bookstore for some in-flight entertainment. I adore reading when I'm away because I truly have nothing else to do and can literally get lost in a book for hours on end sans the guilt that comes from neglecting what needs to get done.

The one thing that's a bummer is that I haven't been able to get in any yoga classes and probably won't until we get back. But one thing is for sure... I'm unrolling my mat the second we're settled in the hotel and rocking out some sun salutations to energize me for the fun days ahead.

If you find yourself traveling anytime soon, here's some great yoga-friendly tips that I came across that every traveling yogini should know:

How to Take Yoga on Vacation

Take Your Practice With You When You Travel
Ann Pizer,
Updated: February 3, 2009

When you go on vacation or travel for business, you can easily take your yoga practice with you. It only takes a little planning to find local yoga studios at your destination or bring the items you need.

Go Local: Whenever I travel, I love to check out local yoga scenes. It’s surprising and refreshing to see how differently classes are taught around the country and the world. This is a great way to maintain and even reinvigorate your practice.

  • Pack quick-drying yoga clothes.
  • Do a little research before you go. Luckily, you can use the web to find classes all over the world. When you arrive at your destination, seek out local alternative newspapers or wellness magazines (often found in locations also serving coffee), which often carry listings for yoga studios.
  • Brush up your Sanskrit. Classes conducted in Asia, or Europe may be conducted in foreign language, which poses an added challenge. But knowing the Sanskrit names of basic poses will help immensely.
Pack for Practice: If you prefer to practice in your hotel room, pack the necessities.

You Will Need To:

  • Pack quick-drying yoga clothes.
  • Pack a yoga mat. You can get a travel mat, which is a little thinner than a regular one. Bonus: You can use the mat to cushion any fragile items you decide to bring home from your trip.
  • Plan a yoga session. Yoga audio downloads are a great travel companion. Remember your MP3 player. Doing yoga with headphones on is a little awkward, but it will do in a pinch. Get a long cord, or try wireless headphones to make it easier. Or bring your favorite yoga DVD and a portable player.
  • If you do vinyasa yoga, print out this Sun Salutation Sequence. You can run through this a few times. The Daily Stretches sequence is also a good way to start your day.
Check into a Yoga Hotel: Does your trip include a resort or spa visit? If so, yoga will certainly be on the menu and you should take advantage of it. Or, plan your vacation around yoga by going on an intensive yoga retreat.

One of the best options to is go on a retreat with a teacher you know so you can be sure you will get great classes. Many teachers lead yoga-intensive trips to fabulous locations, so ask around at your yoga studio.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not Just Liking Yoga..Living Yoga Part Duex

As promised my lovelies, here are the yamas (with a little modern twist!)

Satya - means truthfulness. This is best practiced when you are true to the real you. I spent a lot of my time twisting myself into other people's ideals. It was a waste of my precious time. And it's a waste of yours too! Know yourself. Know what you love and what you believe in and what you stand for and don't sacrifice it for anyone or anything.

Ahimsa - means non-violence. Most people spend more time beating themselves up then lifting themselves up. Spending time agonizing over whether or not you said the right thing at your company's staff meeting or berating yourself for messing up a task you were in charge of. Very rarely do our thoughts comfort us in those situations. We can think up endless ways to torture ourselves and point out our flaws, but that does us no good. Next time you experience a cycle of negative thoughts, put up a big mental stop sign and start building yourself up. And this holds true for how we treat others too. Taking a moment to give a compliment to a stranger or telling your friends how much they rock is something that not only makes the other person feel great, but we feel pretty terrific also.

Aparigraha - means non-greedy. Rather then spending time desiring what other people have or being jealous of what others do, you can spend that time making your life everything you want it to be. Ditch the greed. Use what others have as motivation to drive you to your dream life, not to drive you insane.

Asteya - means non-stealing. Don't take what doesn't belong to you - whether it be ideas, time, physical items or emotional feelings. And share what does belong to you - again... ideas, time, physical items or emotional feelings. I learned a lot of things from many wise and beautiful people and what good is it if I can't share it? I don't 'steal' the knowledge I have and hold it close. I don't claim to ever be an expert in what I do. I share what I know and look for guidance from others when I need it.

Brahmacarya - means sexual control. You have a lot of love to give. You can choose how and when to share it and the person you want to share it with. You can feel empowered by your sexuality and know it's an honor to connect with another person in such an intimate way.

Take these ideas and practices and see how they fit into your life.

I use them to help me live an attentive and active life, both mentally, physically and spiritually. I always love having some help and guidance along my journey!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not Just Liking Yoga... Living Yoga

I'm kind of a nerd at heart and love to learn. I recently became obsessed with nonfiction books after being faithful to fun fiction for many years. I'm constantly looking for new yoga workshops to go to (fingers crossed I got into one tomorrow night on the chakras!) and I'm a sucker for a good documentary (I have Panic permanently saved to my DVR). I love when learning is ongoing and there's always something new happening. Maybe this is why I like yoga. There's an endless amount of info out there on it and numerous paths to follow. It's all so personal too. Not like learning trig which, I don't know about you, but I found unbelievably difficult because I could never find a way to relate to it. I've become very passionate about not just liking yoga, but living yoga. And while you'll find that I relate some yogic philosophies to anxiety, I also relate them to my everyday life.

I'm a big fan of the yamas and niyamas - which serve as ethical guidelines in yoga, the moral beliefs. I love to learn new ways to apply them to what's happening in my life and I've put a little modern spin on them!


Samtosha - this means contentment. I no longer get caught up in the game of "who has what" anymore. I steer clear of comparing myself to others. I don't believe that money buys happiness and I don't strive to be independently wealthy. I'm not angry if I don't look graceful in a pose or if I can't keep up with my hubby when we play tennis. I'm no longer in turmoil about stepping on the scale. I'm happy being me. I'm not perfect, rich or famous - and that's totally ok. When I'm feeling down on myself (which lets face it, we all have personal pity parties every now and then!) I make a list of everything i'm grateful for and happy about. Rather than focus on what you don't have, focus on what you do have. Be happy being you.

Shauca - means pureness. I take this to heart with my body and my diet. I keep my mind and body healthy with pure, clean foods and work up a good sweat in workouts to detoxify. I also keep my emotions pure by staying away from the endless cycle of negative and self-damaging thoughts. I look at this as a way to keep purity in my life and not get bogged down by things that hurt me physically, emotionally or mentally. Your body is your temple - treat it as such.

Svadhyaya - means self study. I am a big fan of introspection. It's one of the main ways I came to understand the root causes of my anxiety and I practice this when I'm feeling out of sorts. I also practice this during meditation. Just as you want to know everything about a person when you first meet them, I want to know everything about myself! There's so many layers and each one is affected by different things. Knowing myself, truly knowing who I am, helps me to understand how and why I react as I do, and also gives me the ability to change it. I don't take feelings for granted anymore - now I give them the third degree!

Tapas - this means austerity. I was taught that tapas literally means ' to burn ' and it's practiced when you're "burning" through a difficult situation. I kind of relate it to patience (which at times, I tend to have very little of). What can I learn if I don't use patience to understand. Things get frustrating, things get annoying, life is life. But having the dedication to work through a problem and have the patience to understand what's happening is a blessing.

Ishvara pranidhana - means to surrender. This was a life lesson I learned the hard way. Again, just to keep it consistant, I'll give the example of my anxiety. I used to fight panic attacks and anxiety desperately. I never wanted to accept the reality of it. But after practicing ishvara pranidhana, I learned to float through the attacks and anxiety and accept it for what it was - anxiety. Anxiety that I would be able to heal from. When you're faced with a big issue, don't bang your head against a wall looking for an immediate answer. Sometimes letting go and allowing the universe to take it's course is the best solution. You can't control the world. You can't fight the world. Don't force control over your life - befriend it and let it help you along your way.

So there you have it - the 5 niyamas. love 'em! Hope you can find ways to relate these philosophies to your life... because sometimes it's nice to have some help in the shape of guidelines.

And don't worry - the yamas are next!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Importance of You

I've found that when I get into work-mode, I tend to really overdue it. It was recently pointed out to me that I make all of my errands and responsibilities seem catastrophically important and let personal time and fun time constantly fall to the wayside. This, as you can imagine, makes me cranky and I get so swept up in doing things that I don't even realize it. Where's the fun in that!?

So I'm making a diligent point to take a step back. Sure I have to create classes and finish my spring clean and plan out dinner and return emails and phone calls and finish up some writing pieces.... but it's not the end of the world if I go out for a walk in the park in the middle of calls and emails or if I fit in a run to unwind after cleaning out my closet. It's so important to take time to be you and indulge in 'me time' and I'm such a big fan of it, yet I tend to get so caught up in day to day "stuff" that I forget about me.

There's always going to be something or someone that needs tending to or attention, but don't forget to give attention to yourself as well! So in the spirit of spoiling myself I'm on my way to a relaxing morning yoga class and will forget about the world until I get home (when of course I have a pile of dry cleaning that needs to be dropped off, a pup that will be demanding a walk and an inbox stuffed with emails that need answering).

Give yourself permission to treat yourself. As you make daily to-do lists don't forget to schedule a pedicure in there or time to just lounge on the couch with a glass of wine and stack of unread magazines...

It's easy to get caught up in life's never-ending to-do's and that's what makes it all the more important to remember the importance of treating yourself to 'you time.'

And on that note, I'm off to class!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Finally Feeling Like Spring!

Finally woke up to warm weather and sunshine. It's been quite a dreary New York winter and spring started out pretty dismal as well. I'll admit, it was getting me down. But I finally see the light at the end of the cold weather tunnel with this beautiful sunshine. My yoga practice has also been experiencing a change of pace... nice weather energizes me and thus energizes my practice. I've also gone back to some heart pumping workouts (which is another love of mine!) and all of this activity makes me a happy girl! Ah, Spring... how I've missed you.

If you're lucky to have warm weather year-round, or if like me the sun is just starting to poke its head out from the clouds, take advantage! Indulge in a long walk, open up the blinds and do sun salutations in the sunshine, whip up a fruit smoothie and drink it outside while reading a book or magazine... the winter blues hit me hard this year and I'm ready to shake it off and get a jump start on the summer.

And today is officially the two week mark until my vacation to boot! A fabulously relaxing long weekend in Florida complete with spa trips, beach lounging and hiking in the local parks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Torn in Two

Lately I've felt pulled in two drastically different directions. It took me a long time to get comfortable in my own skin. There are things about me that I love and things about me that I dislike. It all comes wrapped in a quirky package that makes up the real me. I think we all have that. But for the past few weeks I've felt that the real me isn't good enough. I put faith and trust in someone that I feel is trying to push me in a direction that suits his/her needs more than my own needs and rather than learn from me, he/she tries desperately to change me to fit a mold that he/she created. I'm using "he/she" because 1) I want this person to remain anonymous and 2) the person isn't what's important. The thing that is important is that I felt beat up for awhile. I took what this person said to heart and started to discount my accomplishments and get down on myself for not fitting this "picture perfect" mold. Just as people are put into your life to build you up and guide you, there are people also put into your life to challenge you.

I used to think things were all or nothing. Either you're a health nut or a junk food junkie. You're a runner or couch potato. You're laid back and easygoing or you're uptight and type A. But things aren't that black or white. And I started to see the grey in my life as well. I love to work out. I love to push myself to my limits, but when I want to relax, I want to relax! I want to veg out on the couch and watch a 9 hr marathon of america's next top model and not move. I'm all about health. I'm into fruits and veggies and have been known to fry up a mean tofu, but put a cupcake in front of me and I'll devour it. I get the importance of green tea and water, but every now and then I just need a cup of coffee or diet coke (eek!). And while I have found a love for yoga and, when prompted, will speak endlessly of it's positive impact in my life, I like to have fun with it. I love to be creative in my practice and encourage others to do the same. I like to add a little fun and flair because I believe you can have both - the wonderful mind and body connection and some laughs. I also sometimes tend to bring my tough as nails beliefs into my work outs and yoga practice - if you don't push yourself, who will!? The point is, while everyone approaches things differently, we're all headed to the same destination. Who is to say that one path is better than the next?

Don't feel funny if you whip up a vegetarian fiest (complete with tofurkey!) in christian louboutins and perfectly manicured fingernails. Don't let anyone tease you for wearing make up on a hike or thinking less of you if after your big client meeting you shed your suit and run to a Slipknot concert. Who said we have to fit stereotypes that other people create? We can drive ourselves crazy trying to fit other peoples' molds. Forget 'em!

Guess what? I practice yoga to rock music. I'm a vegetarian, plant my own vegetable garden in the summer and recycle all while being decked out in fun clothes and a full face of make up. My sneakers and workout clothes match and I like to watch Gossip Girl as much as The History Channel. I don't fit any one mold. And if someone gives you a hard time because you don't fit the "stereotype", that's their problem - not yours! So be proud that you adore chick lit and historical biographies... be true to the fact that you are as dedicated to working out as you are about a chocolate cupcake...and that you love to volunteer as much as you love Chanel handbags.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Real World...Real Problems

It's been years since I've tuned into the latest season of The Real World, but for some reason (perhaps because of the NY stomping grounds!) this past season caught my attention. I watched it on and off for a few episodes and happen to catch some of the reunion show that aired last night. Now I don't know if you've seen any episodes or if you're even familiar with the cast, but I just had to acknowledge Baya from this season.

Baya wasn't seen a lot in the show. A spunky hip hop dancer, they maybe dedicated 2 episodes to her (if even) and she remained predominantly background decoration. When they mentioned this on the reunion show Baya came out and said she suffers from anxiety and when she was going through anxious episodes or having panic attacks she stayed away from the camera.

Wow! Didn't see that coming. I think it would've been a terrific opportunity to show viewers that anxiety exists in all kinds of people-it knows no bounds. I think it could've been a chance to show young people what anxiety is about and how it affects people. I think Baya is inspiring because, even though this fact about her wasn't given air time, she still stepped out of her comfort zone and moved into a house with 7 strangers and tried to persue her dreams. That's inspiring!

so here's to Baya-you rock girl! I'm so glad she took the chance to tell the world what she was going through and continued to perservere!