Saturday, November 6, 2010

rejuvenation motivation

i love reading about what others do to relax and renew. it always leaves me inspired and gives me great ideas for things i can do for myself. so in honor of all of those bloggies out there dedicated to self-nurturing, i thought i'd share some of the things i did to recharge and bliss out during my 'time out'

* put cell in bedroom at 8pm every night and refused to check it until after i'd enjoyed breakfast the next morning

* took time to notice the changing leaves, colors and weather during walks with the pup -this was an overall theme... i slowed down. and i'm always amazed how much more i appreciate everything in my life when i actually take the time to notice and pay attention to it

* treated myself to daily mugs of green tea and Emergen-C

* spent hours browsing fun recipes and trying my hand at new dinners and treats for the hubby and i

* cleaned the casa and de-cluttered

* enjoyed numerous hours catching up on inspirational, self-caring and beautiful blogs (i even found more i love!)

* looked up fun things to do while in st.lucia - kayaking, yoga, pilates, salsa dancing...  so excited!!

* grabbed some books i had abandoned and started them again

* steaming hot baths

* glasses of vino

* morning ashtanga

* running -half marathon training

*planned more fun hubby birthday things

* found some small races and yoga workshops to sign up for so i have something to continuously look forward to

this practice in self care has left me rejuvenated. i've practically inhaled my weights worth of green smoothies, i've taken time to make some fun plans, indulge in yoga at home (something that i don't do much because i'm usually practicing at the gym or studios) and catch up on some movies (thanks, netflix!) i am still incorporating a lot of these daily because we all deserve a simple luxury or two everyday. and luxury doesn't have to come in the form of a new car or $10k price tag... just reading the paper with coffee and doing nothing for a few hours on a random weekend morning can be deliriously luxurious.


do you have a self care routine or something you go to when you need a recharge? 


Friday, November 5, 2010

november dreams and indulgences

it's a new month and you know what that means! a new page in my journal dedicated to monthly goals and treats. it's a packed month and i'm so excited it's finally here.

november dreams + indulgences

* weekend getaway out east with awesome friends
* hubby's big birthday celebration in st. lucia
* yoga, hiking, spinning, kayaking, paddleboarding, beach lounging and daily massages in st. lucia
* meeting up for lunch with a friend from cali i haven't seen in months
* thanksgiving!
* adopting a turkey
* co-hosting a vegan thanksgiving dinner with friends
* more half marathon training
* more focus on ashtanga practice
* another hubby birthday celebration at a thai restaurant
* belated anniversary dinner for hubby and i with my parents

what are your november dreams/goals/aspirations?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

techie time out

every now and then i tune out of technology. i don't blog a lot, or comment on other blogs, or even tweet or facebook much. these time outs are something i brought into my life when i see myself becoming a little too dependent on them ::insert blushing, embarrassed emoticon here::

i realized about two weeks ago that i was getting caught up in too much online and TV time, so i put  myself on a time-out and re-energized myself. when things get hectic, my running and yoga-ing and reading and meditating tends to fall a bit to the wayside -oops!- and my "turn on the TV and zone out for a couple of hours" becomes my routine. so, after much introspection and reflection, i've come back to play!

and here's my question of the day: why do you yoga?

i was asked what the benefits of yoga are the other day in class. it was a young girl, in her teens, that was super new to yoga and expressed confusion as to why someone really practices yoga. i prefaced my response by telling her she was going to get a seriously abridged version -otherwise i'd still be answering her question on her thirtieth birthday- and i told her people practice for very unique reasons.

for example, i came to yoga purely for the emotional aspect of it. i was seeking relief from a painful and life-consuming anxiety disorder and was craving the emotional release. some people adore the physical aspect of the practice and thrive on rockin' out a power vinyasa. my practice has recently evolved into the Ashtanga primary series as i now seek some of my yoga practice to complement my running and keep my body fit, toned and healthy. i also expressed how some people love bhakti yoga and kirtan and really connect to the spiritual side.  i am not a religious person by any means, but yoga has brought me more into a spiritual connection that i didn't think i had within myself. 

so, as you can see (at this point her eyes were glazing over) people practice for the physical aspect, the spiritual connection, the emotional release, the fun, the structure, the relaxation... its limitless!  and it is always changing.  as my life changes, so do the things i need out of my practice. 

so why do you practice your yoga? is it the same reason you started practicing? how has your reason for practice changed during your life?


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Life List

a fabulous fellow yogini commented about my Life List and suggested sharing more of it with you. as i love hearing from you guys- i was more than happy to share some more snippets of it

in no particular order...

Bonnie's Life List ... so far

1- explore every place i visit by going for a run (would love my sneakers to touch at least 2 foreign places before getting a new pair!)
2- sipping wine in a hot air balloon
3- take a volunteer vacation to someplace i wouldn't normally travel to
4- learn a language - would love it to be french!
5- take a raw foods and vegan cooking class
6- open a yoga studio
7- begin to host Present Moment workshops in other states
8- write a book (this is a BIG one for me!)
9- run the San Diego Rock 'n Roll marathon
10- drink wine and snack on cheese in Paris
11- live in Paris for a few months, possibly have an apartment there to travel to whenever i want
12- renew my vows with my husband in some exotic location on the beach for our 5yr anniversary
13- meet the President
14- get pilots license
15- go skiing in Switzerland
16- pray in India
17- create/work on a documentary exploring anxiety and holistic health /healthcare
18- create a non-prof focused on helping people dealing with anxiety, OCD, hoarding, self mutilation, depression, etc.
19- learn to dance -ballroom and hip hop and swing
20- learn to surf in Australia
21- own my own company (or yoga studio) and have hubby quit his job and work with me

some of these i've already done and some i hope to do really soon! i'd also LOVE to take a girls trip up to kripalu annually or host my own yogini retreat one day... ahh, so many dreams, so little time!

what are some things on your life list?

Monday, October 11, 2010

take a challenge

i've been totally engulfed in everyone's recap of the 10.10.10 chicago marathon. i follow many bloggers and have read a lot of their journeys.... to some of them being marathon veterans to others losing their marathon virginity! and it's been so exciting!  i love hearing their accomplishments, listening to them talk about struggles and how they overcome them and getting inspired by their dedication. i adore running.  but i'm terrible at it! and i think that's why i'm so drawn to it. i truly do believe it's important to do things you aren't naturally good at or talented at because it promotes a lot of growth. especially for someone like me that used to be a perfectionist and wouldn't even try something if i didn't think i could automatically master it.

and we practice this intention a lot in my yoga classes. i always encourage students to try new poses and experience new sensations as they practice. i often remind them that no one cares if they fall out of a balance or topple out of crow. i've done it myself a couple hundred times! and i used to think nothing was worse than if i was teaching a balancing sequence and i just couldn't stick it. here i was, teaching the poses, trying to show them how to breathe and move, and i would lose my footing or wobble over... but you know what i say now? i'm human! i have my good days and my bad days and so will they! it's nothing to be ashamed of or to not try or to get frustrated about!

so to all those inspirational marathoners - CONGRATS on a great journey and adventure!  what an accomplishment! you've inspired me to continue on my running journey and let it take me where it will.

a marathon is something on my Life List.

what are some aspirations and/or goals you have?  who encourages you to stay dedicated?  how do you find ways to stick with challenges? 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Let it Go

after our big sunday running excursion, the hubby and i were feeling pretty tight. i took to my yoga mat and got my stretch on and felt much better after about 30 minutes of hip openers and backbends. hubby was feeling a bit jealous so he actually asked me to show him a pose to help him loosen up his sore legs. i guided him into pigeon and quickly saw resistance in his body. being the awesome wife that i am, i pressed my hands into his lower back to draw him deeper into the pose. his whole body shook, he pushed back against my hands and said "that's it, i'm done!" i thought about his experience for a moment. during yoga classes, i often help guide students deeper into their asana practice with gentle adjustments, but here was a true beginner that was very resistant and not used to moving his body this way. my hubby comes more from the school of "muscle through it" then soften and i realized he's really not the only one. how many times does ego get in the way and we push through a pose that we know is uncomfortable for our bodies or we so desperately try to get into a certain pose that we lose all sense of alignment just for the sake of reaching our hands behind our backs or balancing on our palms?

so this week, i've dedicated all my classes to the intention of surrender. and not the kind of surrender that means just giving up and throwing in the towel.  the surrender that comes with softening the body, accepting the pose and releasing into it with no expectations or force.

here are some of the poses we've focused on during class

high lunge

natarajasana (dancer pose)

plank into chatarunga

vasisthasana (side plank)

eka pada rajakapotasana (1 leg king pigeon)
*we added a forward bend to this

we also did a lot of moving core work and downward dogs.

the entire time, we focused on creating calmness and softness within each asana. we used our breath to guide us deeper into our hip openers, to give us grounding in our balances and strength in our plank work.

when you feel as though you are struggling or muscling through a pose, smile, bring peace to your face and focus on softening throughout your entire body. trust that you will move into the pose without having to push against it.

i try to set intentions at the beginning of each class. so this week we set the intention to surrender. let go. whether its a demanding asana or a fight with a friend or a looming work project, don't worry about forcing a conclusion. trust the process and learn to let go. sometimes letting go is the most powerful thing we can do for ourselves. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

back to basics

happy wednesday! it's the middle of the week - almost the weekend! i've been off on my days all week. yesterday was mine and hubby's anniversary and we celebrated by going out to this little italian restaurant we adore. i kept mentioning how i couldn't believe it was only monday - hubby was like "hello, how strong is that drink??" i absolutely had to have a french martini last night. what can i say? i'm a martini yogini.  it's kind of cool to feel a day behind. it means my weekend will get here even faster!

i've been going back to basics lately with food, exercise, yoga and life. over the weekend, i laced up my running sneakers and headed out with the hubs. we did a quick mile and it felt great. i had a short lived love affair with running last year but the brutally cold winter kept me indoors and once summer hit my schedule went haywire and i didn't make much time to fit in the miles.  this cooler, fall weather is just begging me to get out there and who am i to ignore mother nature? we had a blast and my love for running returned hardcore. i'm signing myself up for a local 5k event that's hosted in december. yes, it's always crazy cold, but the race's claim to fame is the hot chocolate awaiting you at the finish line.
'nuff said.
so back to basic race training. and i'm pretty thrilled.

i've also been relishing in my home practice. i've taken it back to basics with my asana and pranayama and am practicing with more of a beginner's mind. i tend to want to always push ahead in my practice and get all sweaty in a vinyasa, but sometimes restorative and yin yoga just rock my world and i need to honor that slowness and deepness of practice. i'm exploring my practice from the inside out and taking my time.
i've also been busting butt in the kitchen lately. making super simple raw or vegan meals and making sure the hubs and i are nourished with whole foods that fuel us. he's been loving it and i'm finding it really fun to just discover new recipes and get busy baking. i haven't made the same meal twice in close to 3 weeks and i'm finding a love for things i never thought i would. white button mushrooms, butternut squash 'fries' and kale salads... nom nom nom.
vegan black bean burgers were on the dinner menu on monday. i made extra and have since crumbled one up over a kale salad.

i just finished a small batch of vegan pumpkin scones. my entire apartment smells like fall. um, how freakin' awesome! who needs candles when you have a stove and some organic canned pumpkin? these puppies are for after dinner tonight with some warmed cinnamon vanilla almond milk.

and hopefully i'll be enjoying that decadent treat in bed next to these

anniversary flowers from hubby!

and this

because who doesn't love to have a slumbering puggle next to their bed?
and if he's in his bed, that means i get my bed all to myself!

well.. at least until the hubby comes in.

have you ever felt the need to just take it down a notch and switch things up by going back to old routines, hobbies or practices?  do you find peace in returning to basics?  or do you thrive on pushing to the next level?

Monday, October 4, 2010

manic monday? not so much

its a gray day today... full of chills and cold drizzle and whipping winds. it's the kind of day you want to bury your head under your comforter and throw your alarm clock across the room.

my weekend was pretty terrific. it wasn't too busy, which i love, and i got to fit in everything i wanted to. friday night a friend and i hit up a 2 hour zumba-fest. so fun! we were sweating like crazy and it felt good to crawl into bed that night.  i had to get up early, like usual, for my saturday AM class, and felt great. i taught my power yoga class and the hubby and i stayed in and celebrated (early!) our anniversary. it is actually tomorrow, but hey, you can never have too many celebrations, right?  i tend to milk events for everything they're worth  ;)

the party wasn't quite this rockin, but we still had a total blast!

the weekend definitely brought the cooler weather in - fast and furious- so hubby and i decided to head out for a run sunday morning. that's one of the {very} few things i enjoy about cooler weather - outdoor workouts! some plans fell through and i was left with little else to do but watch 6 full hours of football. for some, this may seem torturous, but for me it was heaven. i didn't leave my hooded sweatshirt or flannel PJ pants for nothin! i stay curled on the couch and we wound up ordering in because i've been a fiend in the kitchen lately!  i'm kinda patting myself on the back for that one ha!

i had a bit of anxiousness friday before the zumba-fest because my stomach was acting slightly violent to me throughout the day. i was concerned and thought about cancelling, but i really wanted to do this. and i really wanted to see my friend. and i really wasn't going to let the nerves call the shots. i was still a bit queasy on the drive there, but i loosened up and really enjoyed the workout. and i (tried) to rock the dance moves like i was a seasoned pro! no stomach aches, no issues. score.

have you ever cancelled plans or skipped out on something because your anxiety "might" make you sick or "might" act up and you didn't want to take a chance? 

i used to do that all the time! its funny how we tend to anticipate the worst, and things rarely turn out to be as scary as we imagine.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

time to make the yoga

good morning and happy, happy wednesday!

i already can't wait for tonight because its SURVIVOR night! any other survivor crazies still out there? i'm actually not digging the wednesday night transition, but hey, it's still on... 20 seasons later. lesson learned from being a survivor junkie: go with the flow.  or maybe i learned that on the yoga mat... hmm ;)

i have an afternoon yoga sesh to teach and then a PM one. the middle of the day is dedicated to a veggie store run because i'm in desperate need of some veg and then little errand running. my amazing vegan friend who always knows how to make me smile surprised me this weekend by buying me a frozen pizza... but not just any frozen pizza.... a vegan one! it looks beyond delish and i can't wait to crack it open tonight along with the ginormous salad i'm gonna make. my body is needing more salad in its life. and it's all about balance. want a vegan cheesy pizza? sure! just make a salad on the side.  basket of bread with dinner? yum! just lay off the carbs on the entree.  it keeps for a happy belly and therefore a happy bonnie.

shoulder stand

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

rainy day ramblings

happy tuesday!
is your day as rainy as mine is?

i'm taking a quick break between work and classes. i've been feeling pretty good lately and i've noticed that i've been consistantly eating very well.  i think it's very important to find out how food effects you and your body when it comes to anxiety. chugging coffee and scarfing junk food can sometimes cause us to experience symptoms similar to what we feel when we have anxious moments.  and i'm human, every now and then i'll have "treat" foods, but i pay for them.  but i've noticed this week that i've been really spot on when it comes to my diet. i've also finally gotten completely back to my workout routine and that's been amazing. i definitely take rest days, but sometimes i just gotta sweat!

some things that have been making me feel amazing:
protein smoothies!

raw pasta and shrimp primavera

raw spaghetti and meatballs - score! this was delish!

my workouts have been mostly yoga and spin, but i'm beyond excited to take a 2hr zumba party on friday night with my friend. Yes, this is how i spend my friday nights and YES i love it beyond measure!

and i've been focusing a lot on doing things that bring me peace and relaxation. lots of reading, movie watching and walks with my hubby. 

i hope your week is off to a great start!
i'm off to finish up some work and get my yoga and spin on tonight. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

time flies when you're... crazy busy!

it's 11:30am and i kind of feel like it's closer to midnight. my alarm blasted my 4:30am wake up call way too early and i hit the ground running. i had to cut my early AM yoga classes down to one day a week and it's still painful, ha!  i love the class, but i just can't seem to muster the enthusiasm to bounce outta bed the way i'd like to. i really used to think i was an early bird.

not so much.

so i walked the pup, fed the 4-legged crew, showered, dressed and found my way out the door and on my way to class. after teaching i decided an impromptu trip to TJs (trader joes) was in order and did some food shopping at 8:30 in the morning. i spent about 20 mins chatting up the cashier  about my adventures in bikram yoga and appreciation for Zico coconut water before packing up my car and heading home. after trekking my groceries up my apartment stairs i whipped up the fabulous fitnessista's breakfast cookie dough cereal and chased it with a glorious cup of coffee. the caffeine jolt got me back up and running and i scrubbed my entire apartment down. there was some serious cleaning going on.

breakfast cookie cereal = DELISH!

so naturally i'm now propped up on the couch, catching up on all my bloggies and thinking about lunch before i take a walk with the pup. its actually pretty warm outside for FALL. can't believe it! summer flew! so i figure i should take advantage.

oh, and there's definitely some yin yoga fabulousness in my very near future!
it's almost the weekend - and you know what that means!  teaching one of my fave classes, taking my favorite spin class -possibly ever- hang out time with the boy, vegan BBQ, football (WOOT WOOT), brunch and vegan hotwings.
note: not necessarily in that order  ;)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

september, thy intention is compassion

i was really excited to find an opening in my schedule to take a yoga class at one of the studios i teach at. i try to fit in studio practices whenever i can and had not been able to make this one in a long time. so i ran, not walked, to the studio happily toting my hot pink mat. before practice started, the teacher guided us through a mini-meditation that focused on loving and caring for yourself.  she explained how september is a time for transition - everything from toddlers going to school for the first time to fall making an appearance - and during these times we need to pay special attention to how our minds and bodies react.  she encouraged us to go deep inside our ourselves and sit with our intentions and feelings. i had a lot going on in there, let me tell you!  i never realized how transitional this time truly is.  and its more than just my practice.  i have a lot changing around me... classes and schedule changes, being in between traveling, big birthday for the hubby coming up, among other things. 

so let's all make a pact with ourselves to honor this time of change.

how can we do this?

*journal our feelings and experiences to create awareness
*know when to take savasana instead of sun salutations
*plan one personal indulgence a week - a bath, a movie in bed, a glass of wine with friends or catching up on some reading at starbucks
*solo drive
*meditate on the intention of compassion
* or if you can swing it, a weekend jaunt to someplace fun

what are some things you do to take care of yourself and show a lil love?


Monday, September 20, 2010

from paris, with love

after coming home, i was desperately aching to find ways to incorporate things from our jaunt to europe into our everyday lives.  have you ever noticed you sometimes become a different person when you are away?  maybe you party more, or spend your time enjoying museums or maybe you just spend time getting lost around new city streets and wander into cafes and read tons of books... whatever you spend your time doing, it's sometimes different than how we find ourselves living day to day.  so i wanted to see if i could take some lessons from paris and amsterdam and really focus on bringing them into my daily life (why should these daily indulgences be saved just for vacations!? i'm also a big fan of using the "fancy" dishes for weeknight dinners and getting decked out to go on a coffee run. why save all the good stuff, you know??)

so here's some take aways i'm currently including in my life:
1) writing more, whether blogging or journaling or even -dare i say it- outlining book ideas
2) sipping herbal tea and reading before bed
3) making dinner an experience and not a chore, really putting love and appreciation into it. just because we're not dining out doesn't mean we have to eat every night on tray tables with our faces buried in work or TV
4) walking more
5) being spontaneous! this one has been fun! hubby has a 'surprise' date lined up for us friday night, a night that's usually spent crashing out on the couch after my yoga class and his work
6) shaking up the routine. our usual sunday mornings lazy-ing around have started to include brunches and park trips
7) allowing ample time in my day to just be. not overscheduling myself or getting lost in a sea of emails, phone calls and errands

what are some things you can bring into your daily life to make it more indulgent? what's something you can do to shake up your routine that you normally wouldn't find yourself doing?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

bonjour reality

its a good thing i totally love my classes, students, friends, family and apartment because coming back to reality after 8 days of adventuring around europe ain't easy!

add to the fact that i finally saw Paris (my 'magic' place) and you have a sure-fire way to bring about tears and resistance when boarding the final flight home. 

i'm not gonna lie, i seriously was contemplating how my husband and i could arrange a parisian change of address. but being back is feeling pretty good and the transistion back to the hustle and bustle hasn't been too painful. 

i hope everyone had a great labor day weekend. for those of us in NY, i heard that hurricane didn't do too much damage. my pup was in Doggie Camp while we were away right where the heart of the storm was supposed to hit, so many check-in phone calls were made. whether they have two legs or four, they are still your babies!  {and yes, i'm a little obsessive about my puggle}

even though i had good intentions, i didn't quite get to spend as much time yoga-ing as i would've liked to (read: none at all) so i was a bit stiff when i finally did return to the mat monday night.  it felt glorious to be back in action and my body is already thanking me.

while i was away some exciting things happened: i was promoted at one of my gyms and lots of classes have been popping up for me to teach so i'm looking forward to adding these new things into my life.  i hope the start of fall is bringing you many exciting new things... even though i'm not in school anymore, there's just something about fall that begs to bring about change.

love me some fall.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

bonjour vacation!

august was an insane month. half the time it kind of left me wanting to pull the covers over my head and not be disturbed until december.  i was all over the place with work commitments, personal commitments, weddings, funerals, family visits... you name it, we had it.  but all of that is in the past now as we welcome in september!  i know lots of people are looking forward to the fall, falling leaves, fireplaces, halloween, apple cider and pumpkin picking.  i'm especially excited because for me september brings paris.  hubby and i are flying into paris tomorrow, spending a few days eating, sipping wine and shopping and than catching a train to amsterdam where we'll browse museums and spend endless amounts of time just walking around and enjoying the time together sans responsibilities.  it's nice to get away now and then, and after a hectic summer, its even more eagerly anticipated. 

things i'm looking forward to for this month:
*gallivanting around paris and amsterdam
*french yoga
*wine and cheese
*a full week of nothing to worry about, think about or plan out
*perhaps a quick trip out east to celebrate the arrival of fall
*cooler weather = more opportunities to go for a run
*leaves changing color

what is september bringing for you?

so i'll see you in a couple of days! ... unless of course we fall in love with it there and apply for a change of address

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

we interrupt the previously scheduled blog to bring you this...

i'm still compiling stress-less sequences for you -some pulled from work i do with my classes+clients- however, i came across this tranquility list from the beautiful and inspiring kimberly wilson and wanted to share it with you. 

wanna infuse tranquility into your everyday life?  here's some tips from the queen of serene:

~live simply~

~read great women writers~

~spend less than you make~

~give back~


~do work that you are passionate about~

~take time outs~

~exercise your body + mind daily~

~respond vs react~

~eat + drink nourishing yumminess~

~create daily~

~let your life be an artistic expression~

~make everything you do an experience~
here's the rest of her blog
do you practice any of these tranquil tips?
i find myself focusing on the 'make everything an experience' and 'respond vs. react' right now.  i kind of relate the experience one to staying present and indulging in the moment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Readers Request Part Two: Asana Sequences for Less Stress

here's a great sequence to start your day with if you're feeling anxious or have something coming up that's causing you some stress.  allow your twists to ring out tension your body is holding and shoulder openers to deepen your breath and open your heart.

warm up
*start with a few alternating deep shoulder rolls
*interlace your fingers behind your back, fold forward over the legs and stretch the hands to the sky
*release the hands down to the mat while staying in your forward fold, stretch through the backs of the legs and allow the head to hang while visualizing your anxiety pouring out of your body

make your way down to your mat
~draw your legs to one side of your body, allow the opposite hand to come to the knee and wrap the other hand around your lower back to twist and open up the shoulders - Repeat on other side

~pull legs underneath you and release into child's pose. touch the big toes together, press the knees out to the side and slide the arms forward or backward as you lay your belly between the knees

~now stretch the arms out while keeping the forhead on the ground and lifting hips to the sky
~stretch the legs straight while keeping the forearms on the ground and focus on this deep shoulder opener
~come back to child's pose and than slide out onto your belly.  bend your legs into your body, grab your feet and kick them into your hands to open up your back and shoulders- breathe deeply
~release back onto your belly and keep your feet in the air, rock them side to side to relax the back.  then draw all the way down onto the belly flat on your mat. close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply into the belly, as if your in-breath will imprint your belly button into the mat.  concentrate on this deep breathing and feeling the belly press into the mat.  hold here for 8-10 breaths.

enjoy this quick, invigorating sequence to open up the shoulders, relieve stress and anxiety and help yourself relax a bit. the inversions bring a sense of calm so if that feels good, hang deeply in your standing forward bend and take time to enjoy your child's pose.

all images from yoga journal 
always consult a physician before starting a new exercise routine

Friday, August 13, 2010

stress less sequencing: part one

i'm really excited to share this first stress-less sequence with you. 

when most people start practicing with me to alleviate anxiety, they are surprised that i often start with breath work.  pranayama is an integral part of one's practice and definitely a key component in our relaxation.  i also really love it because its something you can do anywhere. its a technique that you can use if you're stressed at work, sitting in traffic or about to give a big speech to company execs.

now there's tons of ways to meditate and each one has beautiful benefits, but for the sake of keeping this technique simple, i'd like to share a breath meditation.  i find this one powerful because when we are stressed we tend to have short, shallow chest breaths. these short breaths are no benefit to us and for those of us that deal with shortness of breath or gasping during panic attacks, long deep breaths can be a lifesaver. belly breathing is the way we should always be breathing... inhaling through our nose, filling our belly, ribcage and chest... then fully exhaling through the nose. making sure to take our time.  if you just want to practice engaging in these full breaths, take a moment to slowly count the in-breath, then practice making the out-breath the same length.  if you're feeling anxious, count the in-breath and make the out-breath double in length.  so a four count in-breath would be an eight count out-breath.

here's a video demonstration to help you really start your practice:

don't feel obligated to master this over night - remember, there's no such thing as perfect! your mind will wander, you'll get bored, you'll get frustrated... its all natural. just use this beginning meditation as a way to tap into the breath and allow belly breaths to be a natural part of you. this may feel weird in the beginning to breathe so slowly, or you may panic feeling like you're not getting enough air.  just go at your own pace and experiment. start slow, like she says, for 1 to 3 minutes a day and work up as you see fit.

since i don't always find time to sit in meditation, i've found success at making it a ritual. it becomes a habit and something i look forward to. i do my mini-meditations before every yoga practice for 5 minutes with my classes and i do another one before bed to release my day.

other people love meditating in the morning and i have one student that always sits in meditation rather than savasana at the end of our sessions. 

**another tip: if you're unsure of how to breathe into the belly, take a minute to lay down flat on the floor or on your mat. put a light book on top of your belly. focus on using your inhales to lift your belly so that the book rises. then on your exhales, pull the belly in to help push the air out and watch the book soften back down.  one you get the feeling of belly breathing, you can take it to a sitting position.

and to share a personal story with you, these deep breathing techniques were one of the most important parts of me eliminating my panic attacks. i noticed when i started to panic, my breath became short and rapid and launched me into a full attack. this awareness helped me keep my breath from becoming like that when i got really nervous and that kept my panic attacks away. i'm not saying this works like this for everyone, but for me personally, pranayama has been a crucial step in my healing journey. it helps me keep my mind clear and my body calm. its hard for the body to launch into panic when the breath makes it feel calm and relaxed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

now taking requests!

i am currently working on Anxiety to Zen's first reader request!  it'll be broken down into segments and will focus on actual poses and sequences to rock out when you're feeling anxious or stressed - stay tuned!

and in the meantime, if there's any other requests out there, send 'em my way! would love to start introducing this more into the blog. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

another celebration weekend down!

i don't know about you - but my summer 2010 is INSANE!  between weddings, showers, parties, family functions, birthdays and graduations i've been quite the busy chick.  and for those that live with anxiety, celebrations -while a happy occasion- can definitely bring on the stress!  so this weekend, a friend of mine had a joint bachelor/ette party in atlantic city. this absolutely brought out the stress for me.  it put me face to face with old school stressors - long car rides, traffic, food, big crowds of people, no room of our own of place to go if i got sick... all my triggers coming out to play, and yet i never contemplated not going 

so yeah, the days leading up to this event i was nervous, but i practiced everything that makes me feel better and made sure to set myself up for success.

here's some things i did to help ease any potential stress:
1) i told my friend how i was feeling. i was extremely open that these things used to cause me to run away screaming, but i was still gonna go and just kinda play it by ear. i explained everything that caused me to get anxious to her and felt better knowing that it was out there and if i was indeed anxious, she'd already be aware of what was going on and everything would be cool. i wouldn't have to push through it and fake it. took a ton of weight off my shoulders!

2) did yoga, exercised and ate clean the week before to make sure i was physically feeling great. avoided food i know would sit heavy, cause stomach pain or jitters.

3) made fun playlists to get me in 'roadtrip' mode

4) asked my husband to be my support. i told him i may need time to vent, or talk it out, until i got the stress outta my system.  he totally understood and was always there to lend an ear if i had a concern, or just wanted to logically talk myself out of a fear or negative thought.

In a nutshell, we sat in HOURS of traffic, i was faced with food options i didn't choose and i was thrown some other curveballs - but i never panicked. no worry. no fear. no "oh my god i feel sick moments." no stomach aches or pains. nothing. i was totally cool with everything handed my way.

and you know what?  it felt good. 

hear me roar!
and yes, i was a little anxious.  i'll always have things that'll make me anxious.  but i faced the challenge head on, did everything i could within my power to set me up for success and let go of trying to control the situation. this is what my friend chose, and i was going to be there.  and it felt amazing to feel so strong doing something that used to cripple me with fear. 

i wanted to share this with you guys, because its important to use these milestones to keep in mind how far we come.  and even if you're not at the point yet where you feel you can completely conquer your fear and anxiety, you can always make small steps of success. 

and i live by my husband's MO of "enjoy the little things" 

so enjoy any milestone you have!  let's keep celebrating them together!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

exciting day in the blogosphere!

two amazing women have given me the opportunity to share my story with their readers. i was so honored to be included in their beautiful work and i'd like to share it all with you guys too!

so check it out!
Naturally Nina


Green Junkie Living

if you're not already an avid reader of Nina or Olivia, you guys are in for such a treat! i love connecting with amazing people! 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

slow and steady works for me

i was super excited to see a friend a hadn't seen in months this past weekend.  she's a killer hostest and always welcomes my pup (aka the 4-legged love of my life) over with me.  she's one of those people i can tell anything to and, like it or not, i'm gonna get back brutal honesty.  she's known about my struggles with anxiety since way back when and has always been a supportive structure in my life. so since we hadn't connected in awhile, we had much catching up to do and something she was very interested in was seeing how i was doing with my anxiety.

i lit up and told her i'd been panic attack free for almost 2 years, symptom free (pounding heart, shortness of breath, blurred vision, etc) and i was officially living it up in ways i was previously scared to (two amazing trips booked for the fall!).  she was impressed and proud and asked me "so you never even feel anxious anymore?"  -insert sound of screeching brakes-

i responded that i absolutely still get anxious, its an emotion. i can't turn it off any more than i could turn off happiness or sadness.  what i did turn off is the crippling fear from it. yeah, i get anxious, but it no longer holds me back or escalates into life altering fear.  and you guys know how i always share that i still sometimes get anxious in the mornings?  well, i've never quit my early classes or turned down early sessions with clients due to the chance i could feel anxious. i used to RUN from whatever caused me even a hint of anxiety. she looked at my quizzically and said "so you're pretty much in the same place you always were with this."

um NO

definitely not

it took me close to 10 years to develop that level of anxiety, the panic attacks, the loop of negative thoughts, the fear, the insecurity....

my healing journey is not one that happens at the flip of a switch!  no one's journey is.  we can't change overnight... at least, not a lasting change. it takes time to learn what works for us, what helps us alleviate our anxiety, for us to practice overcoming things that scare us, talking and sharing our experiences, learning to meditate or change negative thoughts to positive... oh my gosh!  there's no way this happens overnight.

and this got me thinking.. how many people doubt their journey if it doesn't happen in the blink of an eye? how many people give up because they feel they'll "never get it."  it took me almost a month before i could work through a panic attack and ward it off and many more months to stop being scared that one could "happen at any moment." we get used to thinking a certain way and dreading certain things, so we have to restructure our entire thought processes and perceptions.  and we're not used to doing it.  it shocked me that my friend interpreted slow and steady progress, for no progress.

so don't get frustrated if your journey is slower than you'd like it to be or different from someone else's.  you are working on making positive, powerful and lasting changes in your life! please stick with it!  find your outlets, track negative thoughts, practice positive ones and know that each step along the way is one to be celebrated!  and above all else, don't let someone else's perceptions of your journey alter your own perceptions.