Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness

So I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this lately. I realize how seldom I post yoga poses, of myself or otherwise on my social media platforms.

I guess over the years my teaching, as well as my philosophy off the mat have evolved beyond the poses. I used to be defined by my asana performance and get built up by a teacher saying ‘good job Sara.’ Lets face it, it feels great to be acknowledged.

Around that time yoga became more mainstream.

Around that time I had kids.

Around that time I became disenchanted with the abundance of handstands and arm balances parading around the social-media-yoga-scene.

To me, that is no longer what my practice is about.

Don’t get me wrong, I love asana. In fact, I have even more appreciation for it after having 2 children.  I am also more proud of my body and what its capable of after having 2 children than I EVER was before.

But the days that I don’t practice asana FAR outweigh the days that I do because I’m teaching, cleaning, cooking, feeding, bathing, emailing, texting, hugging, snuggling, wifing etc.

So how can your yoga practice continue to evolve if you don’t have time to get to a studio, let alone roll out your mat for a solid hour to do a home practice?

It will be helpful to understand that yoga poses are actually only a small part of a yoga practice or lifestyle. According to one of the ‘grandfathers’ of yoga, asana is only 1 of 8 limbs. Patanjali’s 8- limbed yoga path consists of yamas (ethical discipline), niyamas (self discipline), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), samadhi (enlightenment). You can think of these as puzzle pieces that fit together to construct a complete practice. I find it helpful to think of them this way because when you are putting a puzzle together there is often no rhyme or reason, yet your effort is spent on creating a whole piece, hence doing a yoga practice or becoming a  yogini.

Through my process of becoming a mother I needed to evolve a way of maintaining my yogi identity. So I pulled away from show-boaty poses and turned my focus to the things I was doing on a more regular basis. By accepting that I couldn’t get to my mat, I started creating opportunities to practice yoga and mindfulness in the daily tasks of motherhood.

Playing with my children became a practice of being present. Packing their lunches- an act of service. Deep breathing with them when they are upset or hurt has become a great way for me to practice breathing as well. When they creep out of bed first thing in the morning, I wrap my arms around them and close my eyes to meditate on the sound of their little angel breath and their warm sleepy bodies.

Mindfulness, breathing, meditation, presence, compassion, all things that show up in motherhood on a regular basis.  Utilizing these tools to extend your yoga practice beyond your mat will help you to evolve and appreciate the time you DO get to be on your mat.  Plus, one of the hardest things to do as a mother is to make time for yourself, so by weaving these practices into your day you will cultivate mindfulness for yourself AND your family. Its WIN-WIN.

namaste.

 

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Perpetual laundry…

Nursing every 3 hours…

I don’t even remember what our kitchen counter looks like…

And a house so full of love and delight that I can’t even explain it.

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One of my biggest ah-ha moments as a mom was when I realized- for myself- that love grows exponentially.

‘Love’ seems to be one of those buzz words lately. ‘If we just LOVE each other…’ or ‘Love is the answer’. But to be honest with you I thought this was all kind of cheesy. Now if you read my blog then you’ve probably realized I teach yoga and practice buddhist meditation- so I understand all about love and compassion. But I have felt like there was an inauthenticity in the way some people used this expression ‘LOVE’.

I remember when I was towards the end of my first pregnancy, I was driving on the highway, jamming to ‘Black and Gold’ by Sam Sparro. I got really teary thinking that I wasn’t sure how I was going to love this baby because what I did was love my husband. Thats who I was, I was his wife and we loved each other, how was I going to have enough love for them both. Now I know what you’re thinking: this seems like I felt love was a scarce commodity- but it was how I felt. A few weeks go by and the nurse hands me my firstborn- and in that moment I understood how love works.

There are, in my recent experience, no limitations and no boundaries on love. Yet we all define it and experience it differently. My becoming a mother allowed my love to become bound-less. I have been able to love more people more freely, more compassionately because my kiddos have shown me how to love- MY WAY. Love grows and multiplies at astonishing rates. The trick is that we have to be open to the timing and the possibilities. It won’t do us any good to adopt another persons version of love. I would even say that doing this can lead us down a very unfulfilled and potentially self-destructive road.

So stay your course, look for YOUR love in all the unexpected places. Let it make you hurt and let it make you cry. Question it and doubt it.  And on the other side, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to say that you LOVED in your own way as hard as you could… and the dishes will eventually get clean. The good news is that dishes don’t matter so much when you are full of LOVE.

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.

The thunder was rolling, like the growl from deep in the gut of the discontent and indifference I had been feeling for the last few weeks: A familiar, yet long unvisited territory. As the thunder was reminding me of the shifts that were set to occur, the lightening was the resurrection. The sharp flash of lights that would stretch from one edge of the cloud through the belly of the thunder was fierce, powerful, determined and necessary.

Just like change.

As I sat and watched Mother Nature’s magical theater display I was struck by something all at once: when I feel like this I feel disconnected and separate, when I feel like that I feel connected and supported. Just as the thunder and lightening are created by each other, they create for each other. What they create for each other is meaning- a purpose for their moment in time. When I feel disconnected and indifferent I feel no sense of purpose or any good reason why.

I find it so interesting what even a small dose of depression will completely un-do any kind of motivation or momentum that you might carry into any and all aspects of your life.

Sometimes, stepping away from our ‘normal’ state of living gives us the breathing room to redefine the life we want to be living.

So there, in rural Missouri, I started to look at what in my life was working, and what wasn’t. I started to ask myself about the things I was holding myself accountable for. I needed to understand what was serving me and what wasn’t so that I had a road map to redirect these feelings of discontent and exhaustion, really. How could I make reasonable changes that would serve to create the life that I wanted to live: a life of love, contentment, creativity and fulfillment.

Here are a few things I was able to distill:

  1. I was spending a lot of time supporting people who didn’t necessarily support me in the same way. Relationships of all kinds can be a big piece of the exhaustion puzzle.
  2. The 30-day challenge is not my gig (anymore). After trying a few of these and ‘failing’ miserably I’m ready to let this Insta-standard go. At first I thought it was because my life didn’t have the room for this type of commitment. Now I realize I just haven’t ever bought in 100% because it’s not authentic to me.
  3. Several of my daily habits- even self-care habits, weren’t helping to restore ME. Now- I am a yoga teacher. I know all about meditation, and breathing, and eating right etc. But some of the things I was doing because I ‘should’ were adding pressure on me to achieve them. They were great rituals and they served a purpose at some point. But I needed to revitalize in ways that were effective for ME.

From these realizations I’ve created a new check-in list. Something to keep me on track with decisions about time management and truly living the life I want to be living:

  1. I am done with ‘shoulds’! I intend to pause and ask myself: Is this something I should be doing, or is this something I want to be doing. Inevitably there will be coffee dates that I want to do, and those that I should do. At least this mantra helps me to create a moment of pause before I make the commitment. Time is a valuable commodity!
  2. Acceptance and Authenticity. My life is what it is because I created it this way. Accepting it and accepting myself gives me room to breathe and to be. One of my core values is authenticity. When I feel the competitive voice speaking up I intend to remind myself of acceptance and authenticity, and to move, work, love, post from that place.
  3. Mindfulness. It truly is important to me to live with intention, to love with intention, to teach with intention. So a lot of what this comes down to is time. Making the time for myself to light a candle and be still, or to wake up just a bit earlier to drink some lemon water. But maybe more than that, mindfulness allows for the opportunity to explore: what am I really needing to feel good, grounded, balanced, alive.

I have intentionally kept this list short- reflective of the main realizations I had while I was away. When I need to be tender with myself the last thing I want to do is write up a shopping list of all of the things I’m unsettled about. Instead I choose to focus on these main ideas that cast a broad net so that more of the little things are impacted by my new way of thinking and tuning in.

I also head in to this challenge fully aware that it doesn’t happen overnight. I don’t just wake up and say: I’m gonna change x,y and z so that my life is more fulfilling. It takes time. Besides- I have a great life, yet something in me was still stirring. The press to improve ourselves is a process. And if we are lucky enough we get to watch it and participate fully in this dance with grace.

The process itself can be quite transformative. Like the fade of a magnificent thunder and lightening show into the tranquil dance of tall green grasses in the residual wind of the storm across the plains. A beautiful reminder that the storm magnifies the tranquility. One gives purpose to the other. Its the dance between the two, storm and serenity, that makes us whole.