Monday, November 30, 2009

the art of forgiveness

this morning in class i got into an interesting discussion about forgiveness. a yogini friend of mine recently went through a difficult time and is still in the transition stage of moving from anger and pain into peace and forgiveness. i commented that, while i'm immensely proud of her, i don't know if i myself would have been able to forgive as successfully as she has at this point in her life. she's an amazing girl and i know its her strength and resilience that aids in her growth. that convo happened almost 5 hours ago and i still find myself thinking about it. forgiveness has always been a tough one for me. for some reason, i always felt that if i forgave someone i was somehow condoning and accepting their behavior towards me. but forgiveness is really about the freedom to let go of grudges, release pent up pain and breathe a little lighter. it doesn't have anything to do with me rolling over and becoming a doormat. it has to do with me being strong enough and secure enough to let it go (whatever "it" may be).

if we don't forgive people for hurting us, we're the only ones carrying that weight on our shoulders. we'll always have that grudge holding us back and causing us pain. i know there are definitely some grudges i'd like to release. so while last week was all about giving thanks, i'm making this week all about offering forgiveness. and its something i want to do for me. i know the people that i'd like to forgive won't even know that i have forgiven, but i'll know. and for right now, that's what i need to do. forgiveness is powerful because its not always easy. it doesn't make us weak. it takes more strength to forgive than it does to hold onto hate or anger. and those emotions are so toxic to us.

and while my mind is meditating and working on forgiveness my body will be twisting and releasing all of those long-held, painful emotions that come with grudges.

a heart-opening and twisting practice will be my life on the mat. saying "i forgive you" will be my life off the mat.

image: epic self

Friday, November 27, 2009

giving thanks

yesterday was really terrific. usually i tend to dread the holiday bustle as it used to cause me immense stress and anxiety, but this year the holidays have been so different. i spent time yesterday morning putting finishing touches on my raw pecan pie, sipping coffee and watching the parade. time seemed to move at a snail's pace because neither hubby P nor I had anything to do or rush to. it was a nice treat. i had intentions to get to an early AM thanksgiving yoga class, but lounging on the couch seemed to suit me better since i had spent the past couple of weeks running around like a crazy woman.

the day unfolded with time spent hanging out with family, catching parts of all the football games, snacking on hors devours and sipping wine. it was laid back and much needed. and the best part? half my raw pie was eaten! not everyone was diggin' the whole raw thing, but they tried it nonetheless and my dad and aunt actually really enjoyed it! and i, of course, had a huge slice myself.

this entire week has been spent on my mat reflecting and giving thanks and i thought i'd take some time to share what i'm thankful for this year:

* having the strength and dedication to work through my anxiety
*support and love from friends and family
*the courage to run my first 5k
*reconnecting with good friends and putting effort into old friendships
*officially becoming a full- time yoga instructor
*my students and clients that have joined me on my journey
*my teachers that believe in me
*lessons learned - both good and bad because each had an important place in my life
*my little family (hubby P and all the 4-legged loves)
*the opportunity to volunteer doing something i really love
*and every one of you!

so whether you've been up since 3am and hitting up the sales or (like me) still rockin' your PJs, enjoy your time this weekend. savor the moment. appreciate everything.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

baby shower bliss

i had the best time helping host my sister-in-law's baby shower this weekend. my precious nephew is making his debut in january and it was so much fun celebrating his upcoming arrival (and his mama!) on saturday. as you can imagine there were gifts galore, family fun and tons of food to enjoy including homemade carrot cake! everyone had a great time taking a baby quiz i made for the occasion and baby shower bingo. and by the time it came to a close i was absolutely beat! i didn't realize how much energy i had been dedicating to the party. hubby and i were hosting another party that night (a UFC fight night extravaganza) at our little abode so we ordered in some pizza and settled in while awaiting our next dose of company. needless to say, today has been quite the lazy day, with the exception of meeting a much loved friend at our local coffee house tonight. i managed to stay awake and alert until almost 3am!

since i haven't gotten a lot of yoga or running in i have a lot of pent up energy and have been feeling restless even though i'm exhausted. i'm so looking forward to getting a big mug of herbal tea and their vegan chocolate cake and indulging in much needed catching up - haven't seen this friend in many months! busy schedules put a kink in a lot of plans.

i'm super excited about thanksgiving this week and hubby having a long weekend. my weekend will be filled with teaching classes, taking classes, running, getting together with family and friends, birthday celebrations, endless glasses of vino, raw pecan pie, eggplant parm and time spent lounging in bed with books i'm desperate to catch up on.

i'm breathing easier just thinking about it! if i get my training in shape then i'll also be adding another 5k into the mix the weekend after this one. i've been loving my booked weekends! its so awesome to have something to look forward to all the time. and of course, countdown till new orleans take off is still going strong! almost exactly 2 months away!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

so much to do, so little time

i just finished making the biggest pot of veggie soup and am totally loving the smell that's invading my apartment. it makes me feel like i whipped up a five course meal and not just some soup. i've been super busy working on discover and recover's big january kick off event and baby shower planning. i'm cutting, gluing, writing, designing and compiling more than ever! and because of all the craziness i've been craving more and more yoga and comfort food.. hence my channeling martha stewart in the kitchen this afternoon. i've also started my training again for my next run the first weekend in december. hubby is amazing and giving me an early holiday gift - a running watch! i never really know how far i go, or my average pace, so this will help my training immensely and i can't wait!

i've been feeling a bit anxious as the holidays fast approach and i'm cramming my weekends full of things to do so i'm always running about somewhere and doing something. i'm going to spend the next few weeks paying very close attention to what i'm eating and putting in my body because for me my number one issue causing me stress/anxiety is eating bad food which makes me feel sick and then i get anxious about it.

might be hard to do with all the activities and festivities going on, but i'm going to stay determined. i feel the best when my diet is mostly raw foods, so i see lots of green smoothies and salads in my future! i definitely don't want anxiety to rear its ugly head when i have so much amazing stuff going on. stress better get ready to take a back seat!

Monday, November 16, 2009

run first ever 5k - check!

another thing to check off my list of goals! i ran my first 5k this weekend with my puggle, a girl i've been lucky enough to be friends with since middle school and her two pups! we had the best time! during one part of the run another runner went by us and shouted "keep going! you're almost there!" and i broke out into the biggest smile! everyone was so amazing and supportive. i fell in love more and more with each step i took.

i was definitely sore the next day, but the whole experience was so worth the sore knees, the sweat, the internal struggles to keep pushing when all i wanted to do was relax in bed... and i can't wait to do it again! i already found my next run - december 5th! that doesn't leave me a ton of time so i'm heading out tomorrow to start my training again. hopefully i can shave a few minutes off of my time. plus i'll be running sans pup so i'm sure that'll help me a little!

needless to say my body was craving (read: screaming) for some quality time on the mat today. at class we did leg stretches, deep breathing and tons of hip openers. much needed!

i have another very exciting weekend coming up and my week is filled with work for my non-profit, volunteering, yoga classes, training, baby shower prep and running lots of little errands to keep myself ahead of the game.

oh! and the hubby and i officially booked a trip to new orleans for january. and you know me - i've already started the countdown till take-off!

Friday, November 13, 2009

immunity enhancing moves on the mat

want to strengthen your immune system while you're on the mat? try supported poses and inversions! these poses increase the circulation of lymph, a water-like fluid that travels through our bodies picking up viruses and filters them out through the lymph nodes. and its not just movement. inversions help lymph move into respiratory organs, which is where germs tend to enter the body. so grab a block, a blanket and your mat and try this sequence to keep sniffles away:

*childs pose (either rest your head on a block or roll a blanket under your torso to rest on)

*down dog (w/ a block under your head for support)

*standing forward bend (yep, still with the block!)

*back to supported down dog

*return to supported childs pose

*add a supported shoulder stand only if you've done it before and feel comfy with it. Otherwise try it with an experienced teacher.

*lay flat on the mat, extend hands out to the sides and bend knees toward the chest. Release those legs down to the right and look over your left shoulder. Repeat on opposite side.

*relax in savasana with some pillows and blankets

Check out yoga journal for more info on supporting your immune system with yoga

Thursday, November 12, 2009

sniffles and stress

with winter right around the corner, i started making a daily effort to keep myself in tip top shape so i can successfully avoid all coughs and colds. but this season also brings another thing with it --- stress! between holidays, shopping, money, family and work schedules we have to stay on top of more than just our physical well being.

lately i've been noticing that stress is just as contagious (and feared!) as the dreaded winter flu. i've already heard people stressing over the upcoming holidays, party planning, get togethers, moving, jobs, lack of time, lack of money, lack of patience...

and just as the flu starts with some sniffles and body aches, i've started to feel the onset of stress and anxiety creeping in. it's showing up in my shoulders which have started to climb dangerously close to my ears and totally showing the pressure i'm feeling. my head often aches as new responsibilities fall into my lap and my body is facing the exhaustion i've been working it up to by cramming in as much yoga, running and spinning as possible.

don't get me wrong, i'm psyched that the holidays are coming, i'm excited to see my family and it makes me really happy that literally every weekend i have something amazing to look forward to, but between my own stress and everyone else's... i'm starting to feel the pain!

so just as i'd drink green tea by the gallon and take hot showers to keep the flu at bay, i've started to take some 'mental medicine' to keep my stress/anxiety at bay.

here's what the "doctor" ordered:

1) deep belly breaths 3 x a day

2) daily dose of restorative yoga

3) spending chunks of time being 'un-plugged' - no work, no email, no internet browsing, nada

4) bath soaks with lavender scented soap and candles

if you're stressed, or worried about catching someone else's stress (because, hey, stress can be contagious!), indulge in some mental medicine!

i'm determined to focus on my mental health just as much as my physical health this winter.
image: sirius buzz

Monday, November 9, 2009

listen up

i had one of those perfect saturdays that leaves you in a state of pure bliss. it started out with my favorite spin class where we rock out to metallica, the stones, the who, meatloaf and guns and roses. i've never found a true rock and roll spin class until this one and i've made it my new mission to never miss it. after spin, i was all smiles as i made my way home to freshen up for my three hour anusara yoga workshop. i got to see some familiar faces there and worked.. hard! it was three hours of tailbone tucking and inner spiraling and deep breathing and handstands (my least graceful pose of the day!). after getting my yoga on, i headed over to crumbs - possibly the most amazing cupcake bakery on the planet - and picked up four amazing cupcakes for the hubby and i. when i got home, i headed out for a run and was able to squeeze in 1.5 miles before settling in for the night.

i awoke sunday still feeling blissed out. i taught a class and then went out for a 3 miler. my state of bliss must've affected my better judgement because my body was tired. i pushed through a tough two miles before finding my stride in my third. just as i was about to finish strong, i came down awkwardly on my right foot and hurt my knee (read: bliss starting to fade).

once home i had to cancel bridesmaid dress shopping because i developed a rather embarrassing hobble and i curled up on the couch to ease the soreness. luckily it was football sunday, and anyone who knows me knows i love my football. so i was able to relax and kind of tune out for a bit.

i definitely should have listened to my body a little more. i pushed when i should've relaxed. and towards the middle of the night i woke up terribly ill which really forced me to slow down and cancel all pre-planned workouts for today.

its so easy to overexert and tune out what we know we should be listening to. because i refused to leave that high after all of saturday's events, i used that feeling to determine how hard i should run the next day and clearly what i really needed to sustain the bliss was a day of relaxation. so today, besides teaching a few classes, i've stayed couch-bound and curled under blankets. i left the errand running for tomorrow and the workouts for when i'm feeling stronger. and i'm ok with that. i'm not feeling lazy or sluggish. i deserve this rest just as much as i deserve running, yoga and working out. even good things can be way overdone!

chalk this up to another lesson learned.

Friday, November 6, 2009

living your yoga

things have recently been a little chaotic around here, which is why i've been slightly MIA. it's all exciting things: more classes, new clients, creating classes, working on certifications, training for my 5k... but it's a lot! and like any other girl that suddenly finds her schedule slowly taking over her life, i've started to crave more r&r to re-balance.

i even spaced on a class i had this morning! i totally forgot about it until i opened my planner book and saw it (and it was highlighted to boot!). thankfully i had plenty of time to get to the studio and no one even suspected my brain fart.

i always feel like i thrive with a lot on my plate, but that's the time i tend to care the least about myself. my to-do's hold way more importance to me, so since my life is getting a bit busier i'm really trying to tune into my needs just as much. i've recently spent the afternoon at the salon getting a make-over, taking time for baths and painting my nails, whipping up awesome raw food dinners and browsing online for winter clothes. but one of the things i was most thankful that i took the time to do was join in on a one hour tele-class with the Self Love Studio ( the call was hosted by christine arylo and kimberly wilson! so fabulous! i got to hear musings and inspiration from two wonderful women and even got dared to induce more tranquility into my life EVERYDAY. this dare could not have come at a better time. and i was reminded of that call this morning after teaching the class i almost forgot about (!) because i was discussing with a student the difference between living your yoga and practicing your yoga. we were chatting about how to infuse yoga into everything you do, because it's not just about practicing asana. you can down-dog it all you want, but if you get into your car after class and have a meltdown because you get stuck in traffic, all that serenity and peace you just practiced went right out the window. i definitely have had my struggles with this!

i often used to (ok, ok, sometimes i still do!) get super-stressed within 2.5 seconds of learning about anything that inconvenienced me or messed up pre-made plans. not the most tranquil lifestyle. living my yoga has helped me return to a place of stillness and not just fly into reactive mode. how many times are we tossed into a situation and we automatically just react to it rather than process and think about it? for me... it was way too often.

yoga is about so much more than just asana and the physical aspect of it. there's breathing, yamas, niyamas, meditation, etc. the yamas and niyamas are very responsible for playing a huge part in my healing from anxiety. i couldn't have healed by just practicing the poses. i think i needed the rest of the pieces to complete the puzzle and call on those emotions i evoked through yoga to help pull me through tough times.

in the spirit of the self love studio, i'd like to offer a dare too:

i dare you to LIVE your yoga! embrace it, breathe it, live it, love it!

take it off the mat!

take deep breaths.

eat healthy, nutritious food.

take a walk outside.

play with your dog.

take on a challenge.

work out a problem with a friend or family member.

be a rock for someone in need of some stability.

read a book in bed.