Archives for posts with tag: healthy-living

I always look forward to the end of year as a time to reflect, regroup, and redesign my life. I get all giddy at the opportunity to hunt down the perfect visual expression of my goals and re-clip pictures for my vision boards. I’m also a list maker, so its nice to take one more look at my 2014 list(s) and refashion them for 2015.
The whole process of resolve can be quite rejuvenating, but lets face it, some of you are reading this slumping down and pulling your sweater over your eyes as you dread all of the things you WON’T be crossing off. There is an all-too-easy tendency to focus on the things we didn’t accomplish, like remodeling the kitchen (yes- thats’ from my list) or shedding that last 5 pounds so you could finally look like a ‘yogi’ (whatever that means). If this is true for you, then the end of the year can be a daunting downward spiral through the abyss of self loathing and not-enoughness.
Well, I have some good news! There are applicable ways to move yourself away from the Christmas cookies platter, and toward the excitement of the opportunity to ‘start again’ this New Years. It’s all in how you think, and that my friends, is up to YOU.
1. Sit. This doesn’t have to be on a cushion, burning incense and reciting ‘kumbaya’ (though for some of you thats helpful). Sitting could be at a coffee shop, in a park, or on the couch with a glass of wine. The idea here is that instead of jumping head first in to the shallow pool of resolutions we think we should have- we give ourselves the chance to listen to our heart and ask ‘what do I truly want’? This mindful step is imperative.
2. Walk. This may seem contradictory to number 1, though its not. Once you feel you are clear on what you want to create in your life for 2015, walk yourself through the scenario. What steps are necessary? Which resources will you need for support and fulfillment? How does the outcome feel? How does this enhance the quality of your life? This step also helps you identify whether or not the objective will really serve you and/ or how it won’t. Once you can answer these questions you are already well on your way to achieving them.
3. Speak. Ok, so these steps are starting to sound not-so-revolutionary: sit, walk, speak. I get it. But how we talk, to ourselves and to our community, has everything to do with the life we lead. Do you find yourself complaining a lot? Are you able to share your hopes, dreams and aspirations with the ones you love and who love you? Because we do so much ‘speaking’ (via phone, text, FB/ IG post) HOW we speak is our clearest and most immediate expression of who we want to be in the world.
4.Stand. Once there is something that you accomplish, stand back and take a moment to acknowledge yourself. As adults we simply DO NOT do this enough. We get the job done and we move on to the next responsibility. Taking a mindful moment to breathe, be present and feel the lightness of adding something inspirational to our lives is absolutely necessary to living the life we want.
But really, why bother with any of these steps, let alone all of them? Perhaps this is the first question you should ask yourself when looking ahead to the New Year. Why do I feel the need to have goals? Why does my life feel unfulfilled? Why do I want to add these responsibilities to my plate?
If your answer to any of these questions is ‘I want to live a more inspired life’ then you owe it to yourself to at least try.
Anyone can set a resolution. They won’t have any greater chance than you at accomplishing their goals if they aren’t mindful, authentic and heart-felt.The revolution comes in the process of learning how to communicate from whats in your heart- that means speaking and listening from a place so integrated that you can’t help but do everything possible to achieve those goals.
So start with one or two, and as you cross those things off, as you sit, walk, speak and stand, you’ll create more room in your life for another one or two heartfelt things to accomplish. Before you know it, you’ve created a cycle of opportunity to rejuvenate your aspirations and reinvent your living.

Advertisements

In 2014 I’m looking forward to exploring more of The Middle Way.

After several shifts and awakenings this year, I can honestly say that I think my soul is starting to rub her eyes, inspirate and move. Its a looong, slooow process. Like when my little guy rises with the sun, he jabbers at the dark for a few minutes, then I go in and say ‘good morning’. He then likes to tell me about how he slept and what first came to mind when he woke up, like ‘reach the lights’ (meaning that he can now reach the light switch and turn his bedroom light on… and off… and on and off again… at 5:30.

At times I’ve been reluctant to my own arousal. Maybe even tried to slip back underneath the veil of my ego and chase the things I’m used to chasing. I’ve tried for money, fame, status. All of which have led me back to the same realization. The Middle Way.

lotus-flower.jpg

Its certainly tempting to want to push my career to a place where everybody knows my name. And its just as easy to follow the same trance that so many other people seem to be in: that you should work your life a way, make a bunch more money than you need and attain the stuff that makes you who you are. But again, when I find myself on the ledge that plummets to that same spot, something in my gut always guides me to stillness. And in that stillness I recall contentment and the truth of what MY happiness.

And now, I know, you are just waiting for me to tell you what that is. Like if one more person were to tell you what their happiness came from you could go after it and you would find happiness too… but would you?  So today I refrain from sharing my happiness. With the intention that 2014 be THE year that you find your own sense of truth. That you and everyone around you be guided by that inner voice that guides us all home.

May we all find happiness, and the root of happiness.

namaste.

It seemed to me that September was a month full of enthusiasm, inspiration and creativity. I was thriving! My classes were coming easily, my playlists were fun and impactful, even my own workouts seemed to build me up. I had direction and motivation and felt I had pushed through at least a handful of some of the barriers that I have put in my own way.

Then came October…  SCREEEEEEECH (sound of car coming to a tragically abrupt stop!)

I had been struggling with ev-ry-thing!

I was at a total lack of motivation, I couldn’t seem to keep any kind of pace to keep up with my grueling teaching schedule and at home I was at a total loss for ideas of what to eat for dinner for crying out loud!

I was having a hard time even getting myself to do the things that I would have done in the past in similar type of crisis…. I couldn’t…

What happened??? I felt truly stuck. It was like writers block, but for my whole life.  LIFE block. UGH!

Then, last week I was teaching a class and one of my favorite songs came on and I was reminded of how much I love my life, I love what I do, I love my family, my students, my body, my house, my dog… you get the idea. Something just clicked. It was like a spark of gratitude that reminded me that our reality is built on push and shove.

If we were high on life 24/7 then even that would get old. The buddhists say ‘lean into it.’ Well now that I am working my way out of the dulldrum vortex I get it even more.

I’m taking detailed inventory of the things that provoke me and what might distract me from being my inner light. I’ve noticed for myself that when I don’t get my ME time, thats when the threads begins to unravel. I would even go so far as to say that most instructors are givers in nature. I myself am completely willing to give everything to my students. Then I come home and give everything to my family. I have another cup of coffee and I can then give everything to my house, my emails, my laundry etc. But those things don’t contribute to the spiritual connection with myself that truly fills my cup. What fills your cup? And why aren’t you doing it everyday?!

I think maybe I was gifted with that spark of gratitude last week because I needed to be reminded what it was like to have that passion and clarity and joy in my life. We can do our damndest to create and maintain balance, but the inevitable WILL happen and we WILL be off balance again for one reason or another. If we ‘lean into’ our personal challenges and things that cause disruption from the balance we may perhaps get a clearer view of how to stay balanced for longer. Or better yet, how to lose balance, but not fall completely off the rails.

Besides, no one who goes to yoga wants to have an unhappy, less than glossy yoga teacher. WE are supposed to radiate Bliss… ok, thats another topic all together.

 

 

If you’ve taken my class or know anything about my professional background, then you’ll know how I feel about Plank.

Its such a fundamental pose, yet SO many students, clients and yogis have a hard time with plank.  This is a challenging pose… but why is it so hard if all it takes to create the proper alignment is to stand up straight? Yea, its that simple (not easy), plank pose is the same as standing tall with a neutral and erect spine, except we turn it on its side.

Most commonly what I see is that people are not able to draw in and up through their core. This creates a sagging effect through the lower back, and puts more strain on all of the joints in the upper body. Another challenge people usually have, is to not let their head pull them down. A human head weighs upwards of 10 lbs. Letting it hang down pulls the whole pose in to a collapsed state. Keep your head in line with your spine, eyes forward and up with the back of you neck long.

Here are some tips for you the next time you are in plank pose:

1. Engage your WHOLE body! Fingers, forearms, biceps, triceps, chest, back, core (front and back), glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. Yep, thats one of the main reasons I love it so much- its a full body workout! When you are engaging these muscles, do so in such a way that makes you feel like you’re pulling the muscles into the bones, rather than bracing for some kind of impact.

2. Keep a buoyancy in your shoulder girdle. A lot of times this is where things start to fall apart, and unfortunately I hear a lot of instructors cueing this incorrectly. You’re not trying to only round your shoulders NOR only squeeze them together- you are doing BOTH. The shoulderblades should be in an in-between state to create the strength and buoyancy I’m talking about.

3. USE your legs! So many folks try to hold their body weight in their arms- which will be eternally challenging in this position. Your legs are super strong and can help to distribute the weight more appropriately. Try this: when you are in plank, pull your hands and feet toward each other. Then when you move to Chaturunga you’ll feel light as a feather! (well, almost!)

4. Mind over Matter. Without any training or pre-run I held a 4 minute plank. I’ve had students who trained and held plank as long as 20 minutes! Its ALL in your head. Consider what comes up for you when the pose gets challenging. When you want to give up, take one more deep breath… then maybe another… and another…

IMG_1585

For fun, set a timer and see how long you can hold plank. Then start doing 60 seconds every day. On the 7th day- don’t rest, time yourself again 😉

See if you’re able to hold it longer. Then set a goal- after 3 months of training how long would you like to be able to hold plank?

My goal: Dec 21- 8 minute plank!!!

http://willpowerlife.com/galleries/world-plank-2013/

Within the span of 1 week I had several people around me make remarks about their reality, that may have normally wizzed right by me, but maybe not.

One person said “I have this idea about what my body is, and then I have what my body REALLY is, and they are 2 very different things.” The other person said “Oh no, my body just isn’t made for that.”

I’m generally a very supportive person, its the big sister in me, but these comments from these people really hit me because I feel they both know better!

When we have a relationship with ourselves that continually recreates a reality in which we are less than or not good enough or wrong (my body isnt’ meant for that) then we can never win.

The Sanskrit word is Santosha- contentment. I prefer to think of this as an action, rather than a state of being. Its like lunges and pushups, you have to do them in order to receive the benefits.

For example, if you want a tight butt, you better do your squats everyday! If you are not content with your body or yourself, you better start practicing contentment. This is important because you can only change your reality if you understand what you are not content about right now. If you sit in the moment and realize you are not content, nor can you become content where you are, you better get moving! Why are you wasting anytime with a sub-optimal reality?

Don’t misunderstand me, not everyone has to have a six -pack abdominal wall and a Beyonce booty to be content. Most of us are content in the fact that we get up everyday, set an intention, get in a 30 minute workout, check some stuff off our list, enjoy a glass of wine, and go to bed next to someone we love. But if you aren’t doing the work to be where you want to be, then you are just complaining. This is something big sisters don’t have much patience for- nor does anyone else for that matter.

So for my friend(s) who think their body isn’t what they want it to be- what IS your body that you appreciate. What could you do to create a healthier, more living relationship with your body? Generate your intention from that. The magical thing about your body is that you can train it to be whatever you want! pushups, situps, whatever- its not stuck. Your reality WILL be unless you get to work. Where are the areas of your life that you are content with? Do you tend to them everyday? What about them fills you up?

And every time you do your crunches, or run an extra half mile, do it out of love instead of punishment. Be exactly where you are, allow your body to be exactly what it is, and go from there. Your contentment experience and work will start to reshape your reality.

…Lunges will too! Reshape your butt that is!

Hi, my name is Sara, and I’m addicted to sugar.

Once in college I had a professor in my Public Speaking class who gave us a presentation that provided the following position: Sugar is as addictive as Heroin.

I remember being shocked by the parallels he drew between the activity in the brain that occurs when we eat refined sugar in comparison to taking addictive drugs. Not only are the brain signals the same while on it, but both types of substances create the same effects of withdrawals: moodiness, desire of isolation, anxiety etc.

I’m 10.5 months out from having a baby, and about 1 month ago I started to drop below pre-baby weight. I had mixed emotions about this. I had bought some new clothes when I attained my pre-baby weight, as that was my goal and the clothes were my reward. I was disappointed these clothes were fitting too big. Also, I didn’t know how concerned to be about continuing to loose weight while I was breastfeeding. While you are breastfeeding you can burn up to 500 additional calories each day. My reaction to the weight-loss was to start taking in more calories. Now because my taste in food is generally healthy, I find it challenging to eat more than 1500 calories per day, so I turned to treats to add the calories. A panera cookie here, a Starbucks morning bun there,  and now I have myself a pretty good sugar addiction. I get cravings, I think of sweets often, I have them several times a day. I’ll also admit that though I was uncomfortable with the weight- loss, I did feel pretty svelt. So with all the sugar I’ve been eating I’ve noticed the bulge is going right to my belly. UGH! right when I was finally getting rid of my gut!

There are tons of ‘answers’ to this ‘problem’ online. Take this supplement, join this 4 day detox, start a 12 step program- all of which could potentially work. But because I’ve been on this bender before, I know for me the best thing to do is to start holding myself accountable. I have an app on my phone that helps me journal what I eat everyday. I add up calories and then I review it at the end of the day to see where my calories are truly coming from. Also, when I feel a sugar craving coming on, I turn to protein. A handful of cashews, lowfat cheese or greek yogurt are great options for me, as I find the protein satiates my craving and I get a little metabolism boost.

Chances are I will probably fall off the wagon again. My birthday is in April as well as my boys. There will inevitably be birthday treats around the house. But if I keep myself on track the majority of the time, and anticipate when I’ll be in a situation where sugar could be present then I can be prepared with protein snacks. The best tool of all… willpower. The hardest part of all… willpower.

I was at a yoga event last night to assist the students by providing physical adjustments. Sometimes these assists are done to help you deepen your practice, and sometimes they are meant to correct your alignment. Part of this process, from an adjusters point of view, is to first scan and observe the students as a way to assess who could benefit from what type of assist.

Well as I was walking through the students in this class Monday night, I noticed how poor some of the alignment was. There were a handful of yoga poses where bad form was viewable throughout the room. Two thoughts crossed my mind: what are we doing as instructors that is contributing to the bad alignment, and how can we improve the alignment of the largest number of people possible at any given time. Now one answer to these questions in this scenario are to make sure we, as teachers, are teaching to the students in front of us, instead of relying too heavily on a script. Also, there are adjustments we can make to the sequences and yoga poses we are teaching so that people, in general, benefit from the practice instead of reiterate bad habits and poor alignment.

The reality is that form matters A LOT. In the fitness world there is a method called ‘mind in the muscle’, and it suggests that you can increase the success of your results as a weight lifter by up to 30% by paying attention to what your doing. So when you are doing biceps curls, even if you use a 3 lbs dumbbell, if you think about the muscles you are using and connect your mind with your body- your results will be maximized. In the world of yoga this is nothing new. After all, the mind-body connection is the whole point of moving through the poses and breathing with intention.

Bad form generally comes from favoring bad habits, or even a lack of understanding of what the actual intention of the pose or exercise is.  Something as simple as stacking your joints or feeling your alignment can prevent injuries AND deepen your practice.  When we work from proper alignment then the appropriate muscles engage/ disengage to help make our bodies stronger and more efficient. For example, if your shoulders are rounded because you have a bad habit of slouching over a computer all day, then in yoga or at the gym you should focus on strengthening your upper back, stretching your chest and standing upright.

In order to make your form work for you pay attention to the alignment of your joints- they should all stack in straight lines or 90 degree angles (for the most part).  Think of the muscles engaging around the bones to support and create movement. Most importantly, whether you are performing a yoga pose or an exercise at the gym, think about what you are doing, where you feel it, and what you want the outcome to be. A little mindfulness and awareness will go a long way.

So a few days ago I got a text from one of my girlfriends.  ‘Hey there, any interest in doing the Colfax Half Marathon?’ she asked. I remember thinking ‘Colfax, May, could be nice.’ But for whatever reason I didn’t text her back right away. The longer I thought about it the more obvious it got that this was something I should probably do. What I came to realize over the course of the 2 days that I didn’t get back to her was that I have gotten lazy.

Any success that I’ve had toward any goal I’ve set for myself has come from focus and consistency or training. Well, the brutal truth is that the only thing I do consistently these days is be inconsistent!

I am someone who thrives on regiment. I excel at organization and structure. I look forward to making schedules and setting up plans, lists and charts.

I think what has happened is that in my effort to go-with-the-baby-flow I have accidentally become one of those moms who doesn’t put herself on the list. This is a big deal considering that one of the things that kept me from becoming a mother earlier in life was that I knew I was selfish and I wasn’t ready to give that up. I guess I could look at that 2 ways: yay, I’ve let go of some of my compulsions to put myself first which has helped me to relax into mommyhood, or wow, I am the only one who is in the way of getting my butt to the gym! And really I think both are true.

So now that I’ve made it through January and can stop beating myself up about not doing all of the things I thought I would do in the new year, I can get started on some serious goals. As I stated before, my previous successes (of all types) have all come from focus and consistency. So here’s the plan: Every Tuesday, beginning February 5 will be my blog day. My intention is to highlight a different aspect of the Mind Body Battalion Trinity every week to provide you and myself with some consistency. I would like to commit to practicing yoga Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and maybe Sunday.

And yes, I am doing the race in May, so I will have to run 3 times a week. Mondays will be my distance day, Thursdays will be my Red Rocks day, Fridays will be my trail day. It truly does feel good to have a plan and a goal. The Type-A in me is finally getting the structure its been looking for.

In the December issue of Yoga Journal there is an article about ‘recapitulation’. The article states that in order to move forward, as so many of us aspire to do around New Years Day, we have to first relive and relinquish mistakes or lessons we’ve learned from times previous. The suggested practice is to discuss or journal about your past year and the challenges or near regrets you have, thus creating space for the resolutions you may be wanting to set.

Now I’m certain I’m not the only one who doesn’t love the idea of reliving moments in which I behaved less than graceful or that caused anyone else discomfort or resentment, but I do see this recapitulation as an appropriate step to moving forward.

There’s a saying among my yoga peeps that The Universe will give you the same lessons over and over again until you finally learn them. The challenge often times is actually being able to identify a life lesson, or to see the woods through the trees so to speak. What better way to get a little more clear than to spend some time recalling the memorable moments from the past year that make you think ‘I could have done that better’. Once we can identify those scenarios we have direction and intent. Then our New Year’s resolutions are practically made for us.

Consider, very simply, a to do list. You can either- keep adding things to the list and watch the list get longer and longer, or, you can cross things off as they get done and ease the stress of feeling you will never succeed.

I encourage you to try on this practice of recapitulation this year as you stop to set your intentions for 2013. Sit, breath, even meditate on the moments you remember that you didn’t do your best and simply let them go. Turn them in to opportunities to do better and to be a better you. Take advantage of the opportunity to start the New Year with clarity and freedom.