Feet as the Foundation of Our Bodies

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Pranayama – Breathing 101

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Double Pigeon – Deep Hip Opener for Even Tight Hips

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Chest Opener with Massage Therapy Balls

So many of us suffer from “slouch-asana” because of poor posture, carrying heavy bags, too much time hunched over the computer, or texting, or driving. Whatever the reason, this repeated hunched posture creates tension in our chests leading to shallow breathing, painful shoulders / back and stress, and even more shallow breathing, and even more pain & stress. It’s a horrible cycle. Break that cycle by simply creating more space in the muscles in your chest.

 

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Shoulder Work

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Spiral Up

When I was in middle or high school, my mother introduced me to the writing of Louise Hay. It was the first time I had been exposed to affirmations and the link between the emotional and physical world. I wasn’t sure if I completely believed it but I did find it interesting! Through every move I’ve made over the years, those books went with me but I would go months or even years without looking at them.
Around age 19, I started meditating using Edgar Cayce tapes. Every day, for a few years I meditated. Any time I felt overwhelmed I immediately added an extra little meditation that day.
I don’t know why, but at some point I drifted away from affirmations and meditation. Ironically, it was around the same time that my physical yoga practice deepened.
Maybe I thought that I only needed one “spiritual” practice?
If that was the case, it turns out I was wrong. Life is a spiritual practice and the more ways you approach it, the better equipped you are to cope with difficulties.
Perhaps more importantly though, the more “tools in your toolbox”(i.e., affirmations, meditation, yoga, self-care, etc…)  you have, the more life doesn’t become difficult.
I don’t mean you start pooping unicorn rainbows (that only happens when you use the squatty potty! 😜) but that you see the world differently and therefore interact with it differently. Because of that, people approach you differently and many problems simply disappear. The difficulties that remain don’t impact you in the same way.
I’ve reignited my meditation and affirmation practice and my yoga practice has changed. It’s become more welcoming. I have nothing to prove on the mat. It’s about finding what I need that day.
Maybe I’m listening to myself without the distraction of other voices? (and by other voices I mean the ones inside my own head – people really aren’t thinking about us as much as we think they are!)
 
It seems that each of my “tools” fuel the others. I meditate and I view myself as worthy of only the most wonderful fuel for my body. I feed my body glorious foods* and my body responds by giving me a beautiful and loving yoga practice. That yoga practice leaves me with yoga bliss! Yoga bliss gives me a glow and allows me to give kindness to everyone (ok, not everyone but definitely most people and it allows me to let the mean folk roll right off my back).
*Disclaimer: If you know me well, you know I have an intense sweet tooth. I love my green juices but I also love a little bit of chocolate. I’m incredibly picky though and it better be hella good if I’m going to indulge! I’m not jeopardizing my machine for some gas station chocolate bar!!
 
You get the point. It’s a beautiful upward spiral*.
Second Disclaimer: I don’t beat myself up if I’m not 24/7 perfect. This isn’t a competition, folks.
The best part is you can start anywhere with anything. Start seeing beauty in yourself. If you can’t see it yet, talk to me because I can see it in you.
You are alive and by virtue of being a human and being alive, you are worthy of being loved by others and by yourself!
I guess what I’m saying is Spiral Up, my friend!
xoxo
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5 Reasons to Stand Up Straight

 

5 Reasons to Stand Up Straight*: Surprising Reasons to Stop Slouching-

1. Less back pain. Sitting in front of your computer or in the car all day — especially in a hunched or slouched position — increases pressure on disks in the spine, which can cause its supporting muscles and ligaments to degenerate sooner, says Esther Yaniv, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist in Austin, TX. This can lead to back pain and may worsen herniated disks or pinched nerves.

2. More energy. Good circulation is crucial to keeping your mind alert and body energized. But slumping tightens your chest and compresses your lungs — which means less oxygen makes its way into your bloodstream, leaving you tired, stressed, and mentally foggy. And strain in any part of your body saps energy, says Yaniv: “Tense postures have the same fatiguing effect as holding a biceps curl for two hours.”

3. Fewer headaches. Headaches are a common by-product of our constant use of computers and other electronic gadgets — notice how gravity draws your head forward when you’re staring at a screen. Trouble is, that position pulls on neck muscles and sensitive nerves in the back of your head and cuts blood flow to the brain. The result: a throbbing noggin. Sit straighter and you’ll prevent the pain.

4. Fewer bone and joint aches. Poor posture can be a slowly occurring injury that can lead to the shortening of muscles over time. For example, slouching when you’re sitting causes hip flexors to become shorter and less flexible than they should be, leading to joint pain. And if you sit with rounded shoulders, you may get rotator-cuff pain. Over time, this wear and tear can lead to arthritis.

5. Better digestion. Slouching on the sofa after eating causes your tummy muscles to tighten, which can push stomach acid into your esophagus and cause heartburn. Standing or sitting up straight allows your digestive system to work more efficiently, so you won’t experience that or other gastro problems, like gas.

*From Posture Facebook page

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Happiness, Self-Care, & How You Can Change The World

I teach a weekly class where one client is always negative. She complains about most everything. The class is in a residential building and other residents know this about her and try to keep their distance. When I see her, I try to keep my energy calm and lead by example.

I wonder about people like this.

She doesn’t deal with chronic pain (always my first thought since I know how difficult it is to deal with pain on a regular basis). She’s been this way for years from what I’ve heard.

Why are some people unhappy? Does she have love in her life? Does she have “people”? Is there any touch in her day?  

It makes me grateful to return every evening to my loving home, to connect with my wonderful community, and to practice self-care through out the day.

With every act of self-care you practice, you subconsciously tell yourself that you love yourself and you realize that you’re worth loving. The more that happens, the more you believe it. It becomes part of your being, your very fiber. You exude it and most people pick up on that. You may find that people are nicer to you. It builds on itself. 

You may tell the guy with the hat how much you love it. You may tell the cashier at the grocery store how fabulous her haircut is. You may tell the child how great his/her glasses are. You may just smile at people. Notice they smile back. You made their day.

Your Self-Care practice made their day! How magical is that?! Being happy is contagious.

(Not sure how to practice Self-Care? Try some of these. Connection is important too. We’re social creatures, even us introverts. We need touch. We need love.)

So getting back to my negative Nelly (and no, her name isn’t Nelly), what to do regarding her? I’ll keep practicing Self-Care, being grateful and leading by example. I offer her kindness and let her make her own choices. … and probably bulk up on kindness to me when I get home! 😉

Try it for a day and let me know how it goes! I want to hear if (more likely, how) your happiness changed your world.

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Backpack Strap Massage

Stress got you down, your back tight, and your shoulders way up? Grab a ball and roll out your tension.

You probably don’t even realize how tight your upper back is. Hours of hunching over your computer, carrying heavy purses/computer bags, and poor posture leaves your trapezius muscles carrying a heavy load (literally!). Be careful and go slowly because it is incredibly tight!

This Back Pack Strap Self-Massage can be intense but only because it needs lots more love from us! Get rollin’ and let me know your thoughts.

 

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Sand Shifter

I have a joke I’m fond of telling. If you want to make yogis really angry. Go to a really packed weekend workshop but only attend the Sunday session. Get there early and put your mat down in the center of the front row. Watch many of the yogis – who remember are all practicing non-attachment – simultaneously freak out and try desperately to not look like they’re freaking out.

I know I have a warped sense of humor but if it’s any consolation, karma has sunk its fangs in me. Luckily, in hindsight I appreciate the irony!

I keep saying that I think I’m finally finding my footing and feeling like myself again. Then, the sand shifts again and down I slide. Maybe I’m learning to cha cha?  Two steps forward with one step back? Maybe, though, I was having a much harder time than I realized. Maybe I was depressed – maybe?! – and I am feeling more like myself every time but I was really really bad off in the beginning?  Who knows.

What I do know is that I’m relying on all of my self-care tips and I’m still struggling. Maybe the lesson here is to stop struggling. Admit that I’m having a rough time and then let go of it?  Meditate more but not because I’m trying to become anything but because meditation is good for me. I feel better when I do it. Like, immediately better and leave it at that.

Practice yoga more. It doesn’t have to be a full session. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be on the yoga mat but move more. Play with my balls – I have so many different sizes. YTU balls of every size, Yamuna balls, balls whose names I don’t even know. Practice biomechanics and restorative exercises. It doesn’t have to be a long session but use what I know and move my body how it feels good to move it.

Eat food that supports me, not just food that gives me a sugar /processed food rush. Eat food that is yummy and good for me.

Let go of what I think should be happening. I’m not doing as much as I thought I would by now. The work I’m doing is rough. I’m starting over in so many ways but also don’t fixate on that. I’m starting over but I’m doing it with the love and support of a husband whom I respect, value and love so much.

Treat everyone with kindness. What you put out does come back to you. I always helped people network to find the health care providers, jobs, people they needed. I moved back to Florida and people are doing the same for me. At first, I was uncomfortable with it because I have nothing to offer in return and then I remembered how nice it felt to help people in Chicago. I did it without thinking twice and now the favor is being returned and I’m grateful.

Let go of what I thought my life would be. If you compare your life to fantasy, well that probably won’t go very well. On the other hand, when I look around me, I have so many blessings to count. It took me a long time to get where I am today. It’s not where I thought I would be and it’s not even where I thought I wanted to be – Florida anyone?!  – but I’m amazed that if I sit back and forget about the fantasies, I’m really happy, content and grateful – I know that word is getting a lot of play here.

So many things didn’t work out. So many doors were shut in my face. Thankfully they led me to where I am today and thankfully, I’m able to see that now. For a very long time, I only saw the doors closing so now when another door closes, maybe it won’t bother me quite so much. I’m a yogi who is trying to practice non-attachment. I’m standing on shifting sand, after all.

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