Tuesday, June 30, 2009

have you surrendered today?

during this morning's hip opening class i reminded students to surrender into their poses. we often tend to want to avoid or run away from anything uncomfortable that comes our way, but we'll never grow if we do that. we can't run away from things that bother or scare us. and imagine how tough it is if the thing you're running from is yourself - which is exactly what we do when we try to avoid our stress and anxiety.

the next time you find yourself in a tough pose, a sticky situation or confusing emotion try to work yourself through it by surrendering to it. sometimes letting go is one of the simplest and most powerful things we can do for ourselves.

as one journey ends, another begins

today marks the end of june and also the end of my immersion into the yamas. i spent 30 days honoring the yamas and including them into my life as often as possible. i embraced them during meditations and shared them with others. i learned a lot about myself in the process.

i struggled a lot with brahmacarya (moderation). to expand on this philosophy i tried to incorporate the practice of moderation in all areas of my life and i found out that i tend to overindulge in things... and quite often! ahimsa (non-violence) also gave me some trouble in respect to negative thoughts. i found it tough to stay positive when faced with challenges - and that happened quite a bit this month. i found myself getting frustrated and down on myself and had to work hard at turning it around.

satya (truthfulness) was wonderful to embrace. i began to say "i am who i am and it is what it is" during my yoga practice. it kind of became my little mantra. there are always people who will judge you and think you're wrong because you're not like them, but don't change yourself to suit someone else's needs. there are people who will like my classes and those who won't, there are people that will connect with me and my interests and those that fall far from them and there will be things that i can do with ease and things i struggle through. and it's all ok because i remembered to honor myself and my journey for what it is... personal growth and experience. and all i can do is welcome people and be myself.

this also brings me to asteya (generosity/non-stealing). i did a workshop this month and was so thrilled to get to share what i know about anxiety. i look forward to any opportunity i have to share yoga and help empower people suffering from stress and anxiety.

and then we come to aparigraha (non-greedy). i practiced this in a way that really connected with me when i learned about it - don't harbor greed for what another person has or what someone else is. jealousy. ditch it. it doesn't do anyone any good. rather than spend time focusing on everything that everyone else has and what i don't have, i tend change my perspective a bit. these people no longer result in me being jealous, rather they serve as inspiration for me to improve.

how do you incorporate the philosophies of the yamas into your life?

Friday, June 26, 2009

how do i love me? let me count the ways!

I just started another 6-week stress and anxiety relief program on Thursday nights. During these classes I always like to introduce both yogic practices and also philosophies to give students a full understanding of how yoga can help alleviate stress. Last night we opened the class with a discussion on Ahimsa (non-harming). Now even if you're not suffering from stress or anxiety, you probably find yourself having negative thoughts and maybe beating yourself up over something you did or said. Those of us with stress and anxiety do this times 10! So it felt fitting to start off the program with the idea of being nice to ourselves.

So what do you do to treat yourself well and remind yourself you're worth it? Here are some things I do for myself that I find super comforting and help keep me in check when I find myself going overboard with the mental punches.

* take to my journal and jot down all the things i'm grateful for and proud of myself for accomplishing

* treat myself to a night of my favorite tv shows, a decadent dessert, hot bath, a day in bed with a stack of new books or a martini

* if it's a nagging doubt that i'm having, i keep pushing until i succeed

* i sit in meditation and focus on how far i've come, from being afraid to leave my apartment to growing my own business and making it a habit to step outside my comfort zone

we talked about tallying negative thoughts. grab a piece of paper, business card or notepad and just make a small tally mark for each negative thought you catch yourself having. I'm betting you'll be surprised by the number at the end of the day. Cultivate awareness and keep track of these thoughts, when you tend to have the most negative thoughts and what they center around.

Then, create the opposite thought and feeling. Inhale that opposite emotion all the way into your heart. Treat yourself to something today. We're so worth it!

picture: peaceful spring, philip matthews

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What I'm daydreaming about...

* my trip to europe in the fall
* (veggie) sushi dinner tonight after class
* the peace of getting lost in the moment during yoga class
* sleeping in
* a stack of new books
* an impromptu get together with friends
* a large glass of wine
* a pedicure
* a gorgeous day for a drive
* redecorating my apartment to fit my mood
* lounging on the couch with vanilla frozen yogurt
* a run in the park
* a candlelight yoga class

what are you daydreaming about today?
image: veer

Sunday, June 21, 2009

happy father's day and happy lazy sunday

it's been terrific. my classes have been picking up, i'm doing more workshops (just had one yesterday with a fabulous group) and i'm talking with more and more people about anxiety disorders and sharing what i do. i love that i have the opportunity to meet with all of these like-minded people and share in their community.

i've also realized how important their support is to me. when i reach out to people i often learn so much from them. i love to have an open chat in my classes and workshops because who better to learn from than people going through the same things as we are?

so on this laidback, pro-relaxivist day i'm going to take some time to reflect on all of the new people i'm lucky to have in my life. all of the people that offered an answer when i had a question and all of the people that helped to guide me when i got lost.

do you have a community of people that you feel at home with? maybe people that are in the same profession as you or people with similar hobbies or interests? if not, they're not hard to find! start to engage in conversation with those around you in yoga class. or take a dance class or art class and befriend some of the other students by asking opinions and sharing ideas. find a running group online and log in miles and fun with friends at the same time. take your four-legged friend to the dog park and strike up a conversation with someone about their poodle. whatever you do, look for opportunities to meet people doing the same thing. build up your community and friendships. we rarely put ourselves out there and tend to stay put where we are. but you have nothing to lose! and if the thought of stepping outside the comfort zones causes anxiety, start small. get out and do one thing and say hello to one person. before you know it, you'll be friends with everyone around you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Life's a Journey

How many times have I reminded myself of this? I felt it was important to check in because I awoke feeling terribly anxious and the feeling is still here. Rather than launch into an attack, I'm remembering to breathe and relax. Luckily I'm at the gym about to teach so yoga is in my very near future. After some reflection I realized two things. 1) I'm not a morning person, its when I feel most anxious at times and; 2) lack of sleep definitely contributes to it. I have a new clas this AM and had nightmares all night about oversleeping, messing up the class and breaking the cd system. Ah! No fun.

So in practicing what I preach (the importance of doing something, anything, to take yourself out of the anxiety) I decided to blog via my cell and am absolutely teaching my class and then fitting in a workout after.

Anxiety won't stop me!

Monday, June 15, 2009

And don't forget!

Saturday, June 20th - THIS SATURDAY

At Absolute Yoga in Woodbury, NY I will be giving my PRESENT MOMENT WORKSHOP for those interested in learning a little more about how to relieve your stress and anxiety through yogic practices and philosophies. It starts at 2:30pm. Come and join us!!

update on my monthly yama study

So I'm still working on embracing the yamas this month. Thought I'd give a quick update on how I'm doing... embodying these philosophies is harder than I thought. It definitely takes mindful practice to keep myself in check. But I have already started seeing the positive effects in my life.

For one, aparigraha has been super influential for me. I'm not going to lie. I've spent countless hours being jealous of people. Jealous of those with no anxious feelings, jealous of those that seem to have it easy... I'm sure you know the feeling. It's almost impossible to go through life never feeling jealous. Aparigraha (the practice of non-greed) means not being greedy with your things and time and I also interpret it as practicing non-jealousy. After taking time to keep jealousy in check, I've realized that I wasn't really jealous of other people, I was just really frustrated with certain things in my life. Now if I find myself leaning towards jealousy, I back up and take a look at what's going on with me to make me want what someone else has. It usually works and is a strong wake up call for me to hit another direction! I use people as inspiration for change. I also embrace non-greed. I have an application for a volunteering opportunity because right now I have the time to volunteer and this has been the push I needed to finally put that application in the mail!

Brahmacarya is also super important for me to remember. I interlace this into my life in the form of moderation. When it comes to working out, eating junk food, working or playing I have to bring awareness to moderation. I've always had the tendency to kind of grab something and run with it and become guilty of overindulging. But overindulgence isn't good with anything! I remember when I first really started to practice yoga I went overboard and practiced constantly... and I totally messed up my back for almost 6 days! It was terrible! I'm the girl that pulls muscles because I don't take a break from working out, I'm the one that gets the stomachache because I inhaled 4 slices of pizza and I'm the person that finds herself with a headache because she's been staring at the computer screen working for the past 10 hours straight. Everything in moderation girls and boys!! Most important lesson I could learn in my life. Embrace brahmacarya - you won't regret it!

So there's another glance into how the month of yamas is going. Let me tell you... living these philosophies is one of the best ways in the world to understand them and learn them. And each one offers me another way to look into my life and know how to change it for the better.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Calender Update

Hey loves, here is my schedule for June:

Saturday 6/13 & 6/27: 9am-10am beginners vinyasa class at The Yoga Darshana Center

Every Wednesday night come find me at Bally Total Fitness from 6:30-7:30pm

Thursday 6/11 from 6-6:50pm I'll be doing an intro yoga class for stress and anxiety relief at the Sunrise Health and Racquet club

6/16, 6/18, 6/23, 6/25 from 7-8am I'll be teaching a yoga/pilates fusion class at the Bally Total Fitness in Copaigue


Saturday 6/20 from 2:30-5:30pm I'll be doing a Present Moment workshop for teachers, students and the community at Absolute Yoga in Woodbury.

At the workshop you'll learn about stress and anxiety, the health risks associated with chronic stress, calming breathing techniques and stress/anxiety alleviating yoga postures that you can utilize in your everyday life to help reduce signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety and panic attacks!

So lots of different classes going on and the Present Moment workshop this month - check some out if you can!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

do you tweet?

I've just become obsessed with the world of twitter. If you find yourself tweeting, come find me at relaxivist!

be a part of the revolution

i'm starting a revolution. a relaxation revolution. a movement that focuses on the importance of relaxation and rejuvenation. people are inundated with stress, anxiety, worry, pressure... the list is never ending. i say we stop it. i believe in taking a time out. and i want people to know that just because they take time out for themselves doesn't make them selfish or lazy. it makes them smart... and healthy!

become a relaxivist with me!

a relaxivist embodies a stress-less attitude, understands and knows the detrimental effects of stress and anxiety on the body and, when faced with pressure, knows how to alleviate it. a relaxivist is also always willing to be a shoulder to lean on when others are suffering with anxiety and loves to share helpful tips and advice with those that need it.

and a relaxivist also knows how to have a good time because sometimes just having a laugh with a good friend can be the best stress-buster you can get! so spread the word and practice what you preach! start now and dedicate time every day to doing something just for YOU!

become part of the revolution and be an activist for relaxation!


1) one that promotes the importance of relaxation and stress reduction; 2) a person that understands the health risks accompanied by chronic stress and anxiety and shares knowledge on how to alleviate it

keeping up with commitment

being committed to commitment isn't easy! i never realized how often those moments of "i just want to curl up on the couch with a book or reality tv marathon" come up. and before i started paying attention to them, i fell victim to them more often than not.

one of my goals for this year is to prep myself for a half marathon to run next year so i've officially started the training. it's not an easy schedule, but i've promised myself that i'll stick to it. and every time i try to talk myself out of a workout or run or hitting the yoga mat i take a moment to tell myself that i deserve to keep that promise to myself.

being committed to something gives me a feeling of fulfillment. being anxious kept me from being committed to things i wanted to do because it stressed me out to have to do something. i always allowed myself an "out" and usually bailed at the first signs of stress. i enabled my anxiety to control what i did and didn't do. so this year of commitment means a lot to me.

and i didn't forget about the yamas! i love ahimsa (non-harming). some ways in which i practice this in my life are through my vegetarian diet, honoring my body during workouts and never pushing myself into a yoga pose because i simply want to look good doing it. i have also been incorporating more green changes into my home (like using as much recycled, natural and organic products as i can) and i have an application to volunteer at an animal shelter that i'm super excited about.

so far so good on my feelings about commitment and working on my goals. and i'm having a blast incorporating and practicing the yamas on and off the mat. i'm off to teach tonight and am thinking i need to infuse a little fun into tonight's class!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Eightfold Path

My birthday was last week and I picked up my journal and began to chronicle some highlights from my previous year of life. It was pretty cool to see everything written out. Intense bouts of anxiety, highs and lows I experienced in the executive world, thoughts on new friends and stories about old ones, goals I accomplished and things I let fall to the wayside.

That year was amazing and my experiences priceless, but the one thing I found was that I was lacking a road map. I kind of scribbled out goals or things I wanted to do, I somewhat formed plans of action... but mainly I just drifted along on my journey.

So for this year, my 26th birthday marked the start of yearly goals and aspirations. I wrote down 5 attainable goals which I'm going to hold myself accountable for and I decided that each year I'm going to pick something to work on and grow with as well as enhance my spiritual journey and increase my knowledge in some way. The thing I chose to work on is my commitment. Almost everything in life takes commitment and I think it's something really worth paying attention to. So no more lame excuses when I don't make it to the gym or onto the mat. No more reasons for not emailing someone back or weak answers for when I say I'll do something and don't. And as for my spiritual journey I chose to focus on the 8 limbs of ashtanga, which in yoga, means steps for moral and ethical behavior and actions. (not to be confused with the ashtanga style of yoga)

The eightfold path is:
2) Niyamas
3) Asana (postures)
4) Prana (control of breath)
5) Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses)
6) Dharana (concentration)
7) Dhyana (meditation)
8) Samadhi (enlightenment)

These are the 8 steps of the yogic path. Each month I'm going to focus on a step. So, as of today, June 1st, I am making a commitment to practice the first step on this path. June is dedicated to me embracing the yamas and allowing them to help guide me through my journey. And i will be practicing the philosophies of the yamas on and off the mat!