Wednesday, August 26, 2009

negative spinning

i've dubbed my endless cycles of worrying 'negative spinning' because the racing thoughts mimic spinning out of control. we've all been there at some point. our mind is creatively whipping up doom and gloom situations that we waste endless amounts of time obsessively worrying about and feverishly working to avoid. my husband called me out on my negative spinning concerning our upcoming trip to europe.

so we leave next friday and while i find myself exhilarated at the thought of 2 weeks adventuring around europe, i also find myself equal parts worried. what if our flight is delayed and we miss our cruise departure? what if our luggage gets lost? what if our planned excursions get mixed up and/or canceled? what if there's very little vegetarian options to eat? what if...what if... what if...

my mind is extremely creative when coming up with 'what if' scenarios. however, what about the fun WHAT IFs? WHAT IF this is one of the most memorable trips of my life? WHAT IF my husband and i meet amazing people? WHAT IF we get to experience things we never thought we would? WHAT IF we become fulfilled in more ways than we can imagine? and the one 'what if' i should be most concerned about.... WHAT IF i never want to leave!

why isn't my mind spinning out of control with these fabulous thoughts? i've spent a lot of time picking up fun things for the trip including $100 worth of books (yes, it's an addiction) and piles of new clothes that i finally get to wear! we've poured over websites and booked mind blowing excursions that promise fun and adventure. so why am i only consumed with thoughts of lost luggage?

so forget it! i'm throwing caution to the wind (well, any caution left over after i finish all my vacation prep!) and i'm taking this trip for what it is... an amazing trip full of fun, inspiration, experience and of course, tons of uninterrupted time with my incredible hubby. so here's to fun and being carefree! and anytime i catch myself 'negative spinning' i'm going to plan out a fabulous outfit for dinner in venice or imagine the sights we'll see strolling through croatia. we've waited a long time for this trip and i absolutely refuse to let useless negative spinning ruin this for me.

image: yahoo travel

Monday, August 24, 2009

NEW expert post!

check out our newest expert advice from the amazing Sadie Nardini in Ask The Experts!

Her 5 minute panic buster is a must-have! enjoy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

anticipating anxiety or anticipatory anxiety?

a few days ago i mentioned how i had a totally busy weekend running all over the place - from classes, to clients, to parties and back again! i was so happy the week started again at a slow pace because i definitely needed some time to rejuvenate and breathe. i had my normal monday and tuesday night classes, but once wednesday hit something funny happened. as i made my way to my class that evening i was hit with the sensations of anxiety. now i've been teaching this class for months. it's only 15 minutes away from my apartment. i wasn't rushed or running late. i had nothing to stress over. so why was i finding myself feeling anxious? as i sat at a red light i tuned into what was going on inside and really tried to pay attention. then it hit me... the past weekend, on both friday and saturday night, i took this same route to the airport to pick up hubby and the next day to head to an engagement party. both events caused me immense stress getting there because the airport is always craziness and we hit an insane amount of traffic on the way to the party and i got very upset about being late. both days i had anxious feelings and stress on this exact drive. both days i passed the gym i work at on wednesdays. and now here i was, a couple of days later, on route to the class and my mind couldn't shake the feelings i had on this same drive just mere days earlier (for totally different reasons).

so we've all heard of anticipatory anxiety - when we have anxiety and anxious feelings over a future event that we find ourselves worrying obsessively about. but what was this? i mean, it wasn't anticipatory. i didn't even think about the past weekend drives until i started to wonder where these stressed feelings were coming from. it was more like... anticipating anxiety. my mind was anticipating traffic, airport craziness and an all-over stressful trip, when in actuality i was just heading to a class. since i did this drive two times previously and felt anxious, my mind just launched me back to that place because it was anticipating more anxiety. and for no other reason than the fact that i'd felt it a lot before when in the same place.

i switched my ipod to krishna das, i opened the windows up wide and i went right into my belly breathing. i brought myself out of this feeling of anxiousness even though in my mind it had become my norm. almost as if you have a relative that always gives you a hideous sweater for your birthday and every year you're forced to endure the embarrassment of wearing it for the rest of the day to appease that relative. each year you have that shiny wrapped gift in your lap and you mentally prepare yourself to smile through the pain of wearing it and expressing how much you love it. then one year you open it and it's a really awesome t-shirt that you've been eyeing. imagine your shock. my mind was prepping for that hideous sweater when i started driving that same route i had over the weekend. but, i was going to class, not racing to the airport or slammed in traffic.

so next time you experience anxiety and you're not quite sure where it's coming from... ask yourself if it's anticipatory anxiety or if you're anticipating anxiety because you're doing something that's caused you anxiety before.

image: jupiter images

Monday, August 17, 2009

taking time to slow down

this weekend kicked off in a whirlwind of craziness starting with a jam packed friday that included lunch with one friend, dog park with another friend and rushing off to the airport to collect my husband as he returned from a business trip. i taught all morning on saturday and once night fell my jet-lagged hubby and i ventured into queens to celebrate the very happy engagement of two dear friends. by the time sunday rolled around we were beat from long and exhausting weeks and both decided to put the brakes on. we ordered in, settled in for a movie and refused to change out of pajamas once 5pm hit. sometimes you need that refresher. since i had missed a lot of my usual workouts during the previous week my anxious energy was practically vibrating my body and my mind was a mess of worrisome thoughts. i found it hard to stay focused and found myself with very little motivation. so i also took some time out on sunday to run to the bookstore and picked up some books on Buddhism that caught my eye. it's been money well spent because since taking them out of the bag i have absolutely devoured them. i finished one in a matter of hours and have already began the second. yoga has served as a crucial philosophical grounding for me and i think that Buddhism may serve as a spiritual grounding. i adore the focus on meditation and have decided that i am going to incorporate a daily meditation into my life (perhaps part of my morning ritual??). i think the increase in anxious energy is driving me to seek more serenity at this time in my life and rather than ignore the signs to slow down (as i usually tend to do) i'm sitting up (on a meditation cushion!) and taking note.

in case you're interested, here's the books i picked up:

1) the pocket idiot's guide to Buddhism
2) meditations from the mat: daily reflections on the path of yoga
3) the Buddha in the mirror

Friday, August 14, 2009


do you have any rituals you enjoy? maybe a cup of coffee while reading a magazine or the paper? or maybe some restorative yoga before bed? i don't have a lot of rituals and i think i need to add some to my life. spice up my routine a bit. i recently came across an article (and of course I wanted to post, but now can't find!) that talked about starting a morning ritual to kick your day off right. i love that! how come i never thought of that before!? and i felt this was perfect timing (thanks, universe!) seeing as i just touched on morning anxiety in my last post.

so i'm going to start a morning ritual. i would adore it to include yoga, herbal tea and a magazine. my morning schedule does vary depending on clients and classes, so i think i'm going to dedicate some time to figuring out what works best for me and start to dedicate that time in the morning to myself. start my day off on a positive note and alleviate morning anxieties. does life get any better than that??

and if you have rituals that make you feel fabulous - i want to hear 'em!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

morning, noon or night

i tend to have anxious episodes in the morning. i'm not really sure why this is a peak time for me, but when anxiety rears its ugly head, it is more often than not in the morning. this morning was one of those mornings. i had been excited to teach all week (busily creating playlists and new flows) and when my eyes opened a little after 4am i found myself riddled with anxiety. i eventually fell back asleep and awoke with my alarm clock feeling a bit better. i shook it off and went about my morning routine and about 45 minutes before i was supposed to leave for class i got very ill. my anxiety knotted up my stomach so badly and so fiercely it actually shocked me. there was nothing to be nervous about! i was excited about teaching. i began my breathing, knowing that once i got to class i'd be fine because i'd lose myself in the moment and pleasure of teaching and all would be well. but i had to get there first!

needless to say, i did make it to class because even though the anxious feelings nagged me, they didn't stop me. big difference from a year and a half ago. but it still bothered me that i had the anxious feelings in the first place. after coming home and dissecting the morning activities i think i know what may have caused the anxiety and stomachache.

1) my husband was going on a road trip

2) i ate a boat load of pizza last night

ok, so #1 doesn't really seem relevant to me, but it is. road trips were triggers for me. i despised the car. i hated long car rides. it caused me IMMENSE stress and many times i made myself SO sick i couldn't even get in the car. maybe just the thought of him traveling in the car, even though i was personally far removed from the situation, caused me to stress without realizing it. if i don't sense it or catch it, it escalates. perhaps this triggered something in me that was very unexpected. it's funny how these triggers work!

and #2... well, that's self explanatory. I hardly ever eat junk food and this is due in large part to how it makes me feel the next day - which is totally crummy! but i threw caution to the wind last night and inhaled some eggplant pizza. i won't lie, it was amazingly delicious. but feeling so sick i was near tears this morning made it so not worth it. and another thought flashed in my mind.... i cannot eat like this in europe or i will ruin my experience and my husband's trip. every once and awhile i enjoy indulging in 'bad for you' food but i do it so infrequently that once i do my body totally rejects it and i'm made to pay the price. and this leaves me thinking... is food really worth it? i'm self inducing anxious feelings and stomachaches for the experience of eating pizza (or any junk food!) and it serves me no purpose other than shallow satisfaction.

chalk it up to --more-- lessons learned. i may not always enjoy every minute of my journey, but i can sure learn from everything i encounter on my way.

Friday, August 7, 2009

a glimpse of my personal practice

taking my practice out of the studio and into my home... here's a look at one of my fave sequences when i'm feeling stressed or anxious:

Legs up the wall
1. Sit with knees bent, left side of body against a wall.
2. Place palms next to each hip.
3. Turn hips to the left and swing legs up the wall while lowering torso and head until they are flat on the floor, perpendicular to the wall, legs extended straight up and against the wall. Rest palms on belly.
4. Stretch arms out to left and right, palms up.
5. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
6. Place palms on belly, bend knees and lower legs to the right, roll to the right, press into ground with left hand and return to sitting.

Knee to Chest
1. Lie flat on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, legs together; arms are stretched alongside the body, palms face the ceiling.
2. Bring knees in toward chest
3. Place right hand on right shin, left hand on left shin and gently pull knees in toward chest.
4. Bring knees in closer to chest.
5. Wrap inside of right elbow over right knee and inside of left elbow over left knee.
6. Grab right elbow with left hand, left elbow with right hand
7. Gently rock left to right 10 times.
8. Release elbows from legs.
9.Place right hand on right knee, left hand on left knee
10. Using your hands, make 10 small circles with your legs and hips (keep knees and shins together.)

Seated Forward Bend
1. Stand straight, feet together.
2. Bring hands to prayer position in front of chest.
3. Place fingertips where thighs meet hips.
4. Lift chest and gaze toward ceiling.
5. From the hips, pour torso forward, keeping spine straight.
6. Bring palms to floor if possible, just outside of the toes.
7. Come to fingertips, lift chest and gaze slightly forward, toward front of mat.
8. Place palms on floor, lower chest toward thighs, then lower head toward knees.
9. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
10. Come to fingertips, lift chest and gaze to front of mat.
11. Place hands on hips, lift torso upright while keeping spine straight.
12. Bring hands to prayer position.

Down Dog
1. Start on all fours with your wrists about 6 to 12 inches in front of your shoulders. Separate your knees hip-width apart and curl your toes under.
2. Pushing evenly into your palms, lift your knees off the floor. Lift your sit bones toward the ceiling and push the top of your thighs back so that your body looks like an inverted “V.”
3. At first keep knees bent and heels lifted off the floor. Slowly start to straighten your knees—but don’t lock them.
4. Gently begin to move your chest back toward your thighs until your ears are even with your upper arms; don’t let your head dangle.
5. Keep your hips lifting and push strongly into your hands.

Standing Forward Bend
1. Stand straight, feet together.
2. Bring hands to prayer position in front of chest.
3. Place fingertips where thighs meet hips.
4. Lift chest and gaze toward ceiling.
5. From the hips, pour torso forward, keeping spine straight.
6. Bring palms to floor if possible, just outside of the toes.
7. Come to fingertips, lift chest and gaze slightly forward, toward front of mat.
8. Place palms on floor, lower chest toward thighs, then lower head toward knees.
9. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
10. Come to fingertips, lift chest and gaze to front of mat.
11. Place hands on hips, lift torso upright while keeping spine straight.
12. Bring hands to prayer position.

1. Stand with feet together, hands in prayer position in front of chest.
2. Lift right foot off ground, turn right knee out to side, place sole of right foot on inside of left leg, right heel just above left knee.
3. Hold for 2 breaths.
4. Lift right foot away from left leg, grab right foot with right hand.
5. Using the hand, position right foot on inside of left leg, right heel just below the groin, sole of right foot gently pressing into left thigh.
6. Return hands to prayer position.
7. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
8. Release right foot from left leg, turn right knee to point straight in front of you, lower foot to floor.
9. Lower hands to sides of body.

i'm getting blissed out just thinking about it! this sequence can totally fit into any schedule because you can make it as long or short as you'd like! enjoy.

pose descriptions courtesy of:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

currently loving this: quote

On this rainy Sunday afternoon I wanted to share a quote with you:

"The world around us is just a dream, no more real than the dreams we have when we are asleep. Often we dream about the same people, the same places as when we are awake. The difference is that when we are asleep we have no control over our actions. We have no control over whether the dream is happy or sad. When we are awake, we do have a certain amount of control over how we perceive our environment and ourselves. So when we are awake, we should dream a better dream."
-Lama Pema Wangdak, a Tibetan teacher in nyc.

Change your perception, change your life. Make today a beautiful dream.