Posted in stay at home mom, wellness, Yoga

Is There Such Thing as Balance?

Today’s yoga practice led me through a series of balancing poses. I transitioned from one balancing pose to the next. Some of them with ease and the other not  so much, fumbling as I moved through them.

That is what I love about yoga. Like life, sometimes I feel graceful and ready to take on the world and other days I feel like I am constantly tripping over my own feet or stopping myself from doing what is going to push me forward.

When practicing this afternoon, I could feel the difference in how smoothly I made the same transitions from the right and the left. The right side was effortless, I was graceful and felt as ease moving from half moon to tree pose back to half moon pose. The left side was a completely different animal. I felt lopsided and off balance not to mention clumsy and doofy. It was entertaining to say the least, and as I bounced around the yoga mat like a pinball in an arcade game, I could not help but sometimes this feels an awful lot like business and life. One moment you are gracefully gliding through, things are going your way, things are running smoothly and the next, you are luck if you can keep a steady cup of coffee in your hand with out spilling it all over your nice white shirt or tripping over your own feet getting from point A to point B no further than 10 feet away.

When it happens I notice how I talk to myself, it is much more harsh and less reassuring than when I am moving with ease. I notice that when I am having a harder day or have more to juggle than other days that I tend to get a bit more flustered with myself and tend to not be so forgiving of myself when mistakes happen. As I work through my yoga journey, I have notice that I am very much a creature of habit. When the practice goes well, I am super pumped and left feeling invigorated. When it does not go as well as I would have liked, I finish feeling unsettled or unfulfilled. I found myself saying things like I could have done that better, or I am never going to be as good as so and so. I noticed this pattern in my every day too. When I begin something and it does not go as well as I would like, I find myself saying things like, well maybe I was not cut out for this or maybe this is just not my thing. I have to find that happy balance between being satisfied with what I am doing and the outcome whether it be perfect or not.

Interestingly, no matter how much trouble yoga poses give me, I have not given up. I have kept keeping up with my practices. No matter how challenging a pose is, I keep working at it. I am finally learning that I need to have that kind of patience with my business with my journey and adventures in life too. Just because it is causing me to fumble does not mean that I was not meant to do it, it just means that I have to give just a bit more of myself and dedication to getting it. For example I just recently released an e-book. 

The first release I received ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH, response. I could not believe it I poured so much time and energy into it and I was so excited to have something that I thought was valuable and helpful. I shared it on facebook, Pintrest, Kindle direct publishing. You name it and I shared it. Feeling like a failure, rather than reworking it, asking for some feedback or evaluating what was up, I just took it down and let it collect dust for a while on my hard drive.  I chalked it up to it not being something that I was supposed to do.

I went about my business and the same theme kept creeping up in every conversation that I was having with people. How do I create a home yoga practice. What can I do to make practicing at home more comfortable? How do you get yourself on to your yoga mat at home? Just like that tugging feeling I get to keep trying and keep working on my balancing poses and transitions in yoga, I started to get that same feeling about the e-book I had written. So, with determination I pulled it back up and started working through it piece by piece. I added components that people were asking me about, and I took out parts that seem to be too much for people to do. I simplified it. I made it prettier, easier to read with bigger text and pictures. I realized that the first book was too starchy, too much like a text book. There was no real flow to it. There was nothing about that first book that made it stick out or say HEY I’M DIFFERENT COME READ ME!

Taking a step back after today’s yoga practice I realized that my journey to writing that e-book was a lot like the floppiness that I experienced on transitions on my non-dominant side. I realized that just because I almost fall over on one side, I do not put my mat and practice in the closet to collect dust, I keep it out and keep working on it, cutting out the garbage and focusing on the goal. That is exactly what I did with the e-book. I cut out the things that were unnecessary, condensed, tightened and honed in on my goal. The result clear, concise, and quality piece that people enjoyed reading and actually did get value out of.

I released it again, same outlets, new and improved version…it was a HIT. I received so much positive feed back from it was an easy read, to it was beautifully laid out to things like “you really made it feel like I could pull out my yoga mat right now and get started.” Is it perfect? No, but neither is my yoga practice and I am OK with that. It was value packed and it was something that people appreciated. What this says to me is that even if I am floppy or not graceful, that does not mean I am not successful or accomplished. I just have to look to my yoga practice to see that I am growing and a work in progress.  I know that if I keep practicing my yoga the balancing poses and transitions will get smoother on both sides and what was once challenging will no longer be a challenge and I will move on to other things that will present me with challenges. What I have learned is that I can and will endure the shaky moments and walk away better and stronger for having stuck it out.

My message to you is to keep on keeping on. You will find the balance that you are looking for. It will be your balance, not what someone else’s version of balance is. Your life is not like anyone else’s and neither is your yoga practice. We each have our own struggles and our own challenges to over come. There is no such thing as perfect balance just balance that works for us. You will persevere if you continue to be faithful on your journey to self growth and you will find success in all that you do with continued practice.  Remember your yoga practice is here to help you tune in to you and break free from limiting beliefs so that you can let your brilliance shine through! Namaste ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in diet coke, Donuts, healthy eating, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, wellness

2 donuts and a diet coke?

*Image courtesy of Mister GC at freedigitalphotos.net

Call me crazy, but the last time I checked a diet soda is not going to cancel out the two vanilla cream filled donuts you just consumed in less than 5 minutes. Ok, let me back this up because there is a story behind this, but first I needed to get that out of my system.

Alright, so today I was sitting at Tim Hortons between class and seeing a client enjoying a cup of coffee.  Now, I am not opposed to sweets or the occasional donut because I have, over the years, learned that everything in moderation helps a person maintain a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight. However, in this particular situation moderation was far from being observed.

Before becoming too critical, I stood in line and watched the order commence. The woman asked for two vanilla cream donuts, a diet coke, a coffee double double, and a chocolate pastry.¬† My first thought was that maybe a third person was going to be joining her and her husband for breakfast. This, however, was not the case. So then my next thought was maybe they were gonna bring it home to share or eat later. The husband takes his coffee and chocolate pastry and leasurely reads the paper and chats with his wife. His wife also riffling through the paper, eats the first donut and then proceeds to eat the second donut before the husband even finishes his pastry and coffee. Trying not to stare I return to thinking about what my blog should be about today, then it hit me, and I began taking mental notes about what I was observing. I started to ask myself why and how? Why did she need to eat two donut? Why was she not satisfied with just one? How did she eat two donuts without feeling sick or stuffed? How was she able to justify that it was “ok” for her to eat two donuts? Unfortunately without being rude and asking, I can not answer these questions from her perspective.¬† What it did however, was give me something to mull over and think about.

My first thought was that maybe she was hungry and thought that two donuts would fill her up and then she would not have to eat anything for a long while.  Alright, that would make sense, but donuts are purely sugar and fat, surely in an hour she would be hungry again? I know I would be starved if all I ate for breakfast was two donuts.

Then my mind flipped, forget being hungry, what about the damage its doing to her arteries and heart and blood sugar levels? Is the instant gratification of eating a donut really worth putting your health at risk? Personally, for me, it is not. I mean don’t get me wrong,¬† I enjoy my sweets as well, but it really was not about the donut, but rather it was about the quantity of donuts that had been consumed.

Finally my mind again did a 180 and I found myself thinking about her self confidence and her ability to make decisions that ultimately are harming her. I thought maybe she is having a stressful day and she feels that eating that extra donut will help her calm down. Or maybe she just tried a diet plan and failed and was eating that extra donut as punishment for failing yet another program and feeling helpless. It was then that I found myself feeling less critical and more sad for her.  I felt sad for her because it dawned on me that she is not the only person out there that does this, and that this is partially why Americans are obese, have Diabetes, Heart Disease and high cholesterol. Not to mention feelings of depression, hopelessness and defeat.

While I can only hope that the last few thoughts I had watching this woman consumer her donuts and diet coke, were not the case. I hope that maybe reading this little story you will think twice before going for seconds. With that said, I am going to offer a bit of advice that I personally use myself so that I can keep myself in check and give my body the opportunity to live life to the fullest.

1. Slow DOWN!
2. Enjoy the item that you are currently eating
3. Ask your self, is it worth it? Do I really want that because I am truly hungry or because it’s just there?
4. Is there something that I can substitute instead of having a second calorie dense item such as a piece of fruit?
Lastly:
5. Is this food item nourishing me and fueling me for the day ahead or is it a filler something that is going to ultimately provide me no nutritional value?

If you are able to REALLY TRULY answer these questions in order to justify the second helping…then by all means dig in. However, something tells me that when it comes to highly processed, desserts, sweets, and pastries, the right answers are going to walk you away from the table or steer you from ordering that extra donut!
In good health!

Written By Julie S.

Posted in exercise, healthy choices, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, massage, me time, self care, wellness

Wellness means everything

Today I went and conquered my fear…it was very liberating and very relaxing! Today I got a pedicure. While one may not necessarily associate health and wellness with pedicures, let me tell you otherwise.¬† Wellness is not just about running until you puke or lifting weights til your arms fall off. Its about taking care of yourself on all levels of your life. I would say that I am fit, I workout three to five times a week depending on my schedule and I eat healthfully. I¬†take time to see the doctor when necessary and get a good nights sleep.

However, until today, I never associated a pedicure with wellness. Soaking in the warm bubbling and soapy water, my feet slowly began to melt into a full state of relaxation. It hit me then and there that my poor feet get shoved into shoes, covered in sox, stood on and ran on all day! They never really get a break! Then the pedicurist showed me how to work the massaging chair I was sitting in.  As I sat back and enjoyed the moments that ensued, I realized that this too is wellness. The stress that I was carrying that day dissipated as the pedicurist wrapped my shins in warm towels and the massage chair rolled up and down my back.
Finding ways to eliminate or reduce stress can help us live a much more productive and satisfying life. I’m not saying all stress is bad but our body reacts the same whether it’s good or bad. Our¬†brain may be able to decipher what is good stress and what is bad stress but our bodies internal reaction (adrenaline) is going to kick in regardless.

My recommendation to¬†combat stress…a pedicure. What I learned from this¬†experience is that not only did I need to conquer a¬†fear (a stressor)¬†¬†I also gained a new way to alleviate stress,¬†while at the same time gave my feet the royal treatment that they so desperately deserved.
Written By Julie S.

Posted in brain health, healthy, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Meditation, personal health, wellness

Your Brain on Meditation

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I was thinking about what to write about for this blog, I thought, what about meditation.  Why meditation? What are its benefits?  How can meditation help me?  Meditation is easy and affordable. It can be done any time any place.  Meditation helps clear the mind, relax muscles and help with sleep.  Meditation can help you unwind from a crazy day, re-energize you and keep you calm and collected. In an effort to get a better understanding of what meditation was all about I took the time to do a meditation session with a co-worker to see what the hype was all about.  The session was brief but effective and when I was done, the pulsating headache in the center of my forehead was gone, the cramp in my foot was alleviated and I slept like a baby that night when I got home from work.  It was amazing. So I decided to take a closer look at what was going on in my head and why it was so effective.

During meditation, your alpha waves in your brain heighten. This has been shown to bring forth a sense of calm and relaxation. Seeing as your brain is your bodies communicator, when the brain gets flooded with alpha waves it lets the rest of the body know its time to relax. This allows muscle tension to dissipate and brings the firing of muscle spasms down. This is why I attribute the mediation to my plantar fascitis being alleviated. That day, the bottom of my foot felt like I was stepping on pins and needles every step I took, was excruciating, by the time we sat to meditate my foot was throbbing. I didn’t think I would be able to focus on just being.¬† Not only was my foot throbbing, my head was pounding like some one had just placed a drum band in between my eyes.¬† With in minutes of starting the meditation, I felt my body release into the floor.¬† The drum band in my head came to a screeching halt, and then there was silence. Pure uninterrupted silence. I sat there enjoying the moment for the first time all day, I didn’t have a care in the world. Still, quiet and calm, no foot pain, no mind racing to muscle tension. Stillness enveloped me. It was nice. Then it ended.

As I came to and let the natural light replace the lights my mind had  created, I noticed a change in my whole being. I went from sluggish and heavy to un-explainably light and alert. I could not really say why I felt like that because there were no words for the immense relief I experienced from the meditation.  The only thing I noticed in that moment was that my foot was not hurting me anymore.
The rest of the day came and  went as normal and I went about my daily activities. That night I got home, going through the usual routine. It was not until 5:30am the next morning that I realized that I had fallen asleep and at stayed soundly that way until the alarm broke the trance. It hit me that was the first night I slept uninterrupted in weeks. No tossing or turning or woken up by the snoring of my husband or by any of his sudden movements. I was OUT! It was amazing! I felt good, ready to start the day! It was the 5 minute meditation that I had the day before that set the tone for me to be able to sleep so well. I was still benefiting the after affect of meditation. It was not only an instantaneous fix to the stress of the day it had long lasting affects that allowed me to sleep so well that night!

Written By Julie S.

Posted in Fitness, flexibility, healthy lifestyle, mind body fitness, wellness, Yoga

Yoga more than just fluff

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today I was just about to start my class and it was freezing in the room. I was teaching body conditioning so I knew it was not going to be cold for long. As people came in to set up their spot, they all were commenting on the temperature of the room.¬† I assured them that it would only get warmer so not to worry. One woman looked at me and said, “ooh I like it cold. I come to another class this is right after a yoga class and it is terribly hot in here it makes things so much more difficult, I like it cooler. ” “Besides, how much body heat can be generated by yoga any ways?”¬† “It’s just stretching, she says.” Having begun my own yoga journey I was quick to defend that form of exercise. I said, “you’d be surprised how warm it can get doing yoga especially if you are doing a flowing vinyasa yoga. I mean don’t get me wrong there are gentler yoga classes but I have a funny feeling the class your walking into after that one is not gentle yoga.” She looked at me skeptically but I assumed she took my word for it because she did not question it.

Interestingly this is not an uncommon statement to doing yoga. Yoga is looked at by people who do not practice as not difficult, just stretching and not requiring the same amount of stamina that running takes or weight lifting uses. However, this is a huge misconception. In fact, yoga takes just as much, if not more effort that running or strength training. I am not trying to say that one is more beneficial than another I just want to make sure that I give credit where credit is due.  So you might ask how is this possible?

Well lets start simple. Close your eyes and sit in your chair or lay on the floor still &¬†silent. I mean so silent that you can’t even hear the voices in your head making a peep. Stay there…stay there…don’t move a muscle. Okay, open your eyes, how long were you able to do that for? Be honest. Now say that for however long you were able to do that for, was it easy? For most people the answer to that is going to be NO! If that was easy then okay, I get it, you tuned into your inner zen and that’s great. Let’s make it a little more difficult.¬† Now I want you to step into Warrior I¬† (lunge into right front foot and place left back foot on floor toes forward, hips forward, arms over head) and hold it. Keep your mind focused only on your breath and on the pose.¬† If you are holding it right then you should be feeling this in your arms, your abs, your chest, your thighs and your shins. Is your mind shifting to your shaking arms? Can you feel your inner thighs shake? Keep your mind still focus on your breath. Harder, right? Yeah I know it.

You see you do not have to pump endless reps to be strong and sturdy. I thought I was strong, I thought my core was solid. But when my teacher asked us to do a hand stand, my arms,¬†my legs, and core were everywhere but centered. All the endless crunches I had done, shoulder presses and Biceps curls,¬†I might as well have not done them at all. I was sweating and I hadn’t even been up there for a minute.¬† Who turned up the heat in the room? It hit me like a ton of bricks and all I did was a little bit of yoga!
So what I am trying to say is that yoga is not just a bunch of fluffy stretching exercises that don’t require thought or energy as the woman in my class had eluded to. In fact yoga actually requires a lot of energy, patience, strength and stamina! Which in my opinion as a personal trainer who promotes strength training and being fit as part of a healthy lifestyle, yoga fits right in!
Namaste!
Written By Julie S.

Posted in Calm, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Meditation, relaxation, wellness

The Little Ant on my journey to finding Calm in the Crazy!

Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 

Yesterday morning I woke up disgruntled and agitated. Everything set me off and there was nothing that could calm my nerves.  My normal morning cup of coffee and email check was disrupted by a phone call from one of my credit cards that I thought was paid off and I flew through the roof. Expletives were spewed in every which direction and I was fuming!

After finally straightening things out, which was fairly simple, I was still reeling from the adrenaline rush, a rush that never really should have been happening in the first place. I walked out to the studio and sat down to find a little ant crawling on the counter top. Not really wanting to kill the thing, I flicked it off the counter and it flew and landed on its feet like nothing ever happened. As if it hadn’t been airborne for 10 seconds and like it never got touched. I starred at it thinking little shit isn’t even bothered by being abruptly flung from his original destination.¬† He just made the climb back to the top.

I wanted to fling him off a second time, but I didn’t.¬† What stopped me I am not to sure, but maybe it was the fact that if this little ant can over come such a large fall, and still land on his feet, maybe I can too.¬† So I let him be, to continue on his journey where ever that may have been.¬† I laughed out loud cursing the little ant because he was¬† teaching me a lesson and didn’t even know it.¬† While I was screaming at my frustrations over trivial things like credit card payments and time being spent agitated at nothing, it was stopping me from being productive, from being happy, from moving toward my ultimate destination. This little ant experienced similar disruption, probably felt that feeling of falling, and being out of control, but managed to land soundly on his 6 little legs and continue his journey. He may have been a few steps behind, but none the less he carried on like nothing ever happened.¬† Normally something like this would not have even crossed my mind but yesterday things were different I was already on high alert. It stopped me, as it climbed back up on to the counter completely unscathed.

Again I laughed, this time at myself for getting so caught up in such trivial things. Honestly, all it took was a simple conversation with a representative and the credit card issue was quickly resolved, and as far as the unexplainable agitation I was experiencing that morning, it suddenly felt to small to continue to hang on to.  As the little ant continued to meander along the counter, I watched him just doing his thing, living his life.
I instantly started to calm down and get off my negative spell.  Smiling I grabbed a piece of paper and gently picked him up and placed him outside so that he could continue his journey back to his home or to find food or whatever else he had planned for the day. As he walked off the paper and out on to the side walk, I sent him off with a little thanks! After that, I too went about my day and did what I needed to do without placing such stress on myself so that I could  enjoy the little things the rest of the day! It made my journey for that day a heck of a lot easier and much more relaxed and enjoyable.

Isn’t that how things should be? Who knew a little ant could teach me such a big lesson that day, one I am fully aware of, but happened to forget in my fit of furry. He taught me resilience and perseverance will ultimately get me where I need to be.¬† Just as he practiced perseverance and resilience after getting flung off the counter he didn’t get frustrated and let himself succumb to the hard tile floor.¬† I too can land on my feet after what may feel like a hard floor, free falling from 100 feet, and be “OK” just like my little ant friend.

Written By Julie S.

Posted in Fitness, healthy eating, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Tea, wellness

Tea-mazing

*Photo courtesy of http://www.foodiesfeed.com free stock photos

Today I found an amazing new tea and felt the need to blog about it and the amazing benefits of tea’s in general. Two weeks ago I decided that I was going to give myself a little break from coffee. I just needed a little hyatus from it nothing major really I just was not feeling it. That’s when my attention turned to the tea that we keep here at the studio. It’s an awesome blend of tea’s from Harney and Sons.¬† The first one I tried was African Autumn, then there was Hot Cinnamon Spice, and the newest one I ventured into trying was called SOHO which is a combination of chocolate and coconut.

The first¬† tea was herbal and the SOHO was a black tea and the Hot Cinnamon Spice was a mixture of black teas and other ingredients. To quote the container the African¬†Autumn ¬†“Captures African Red Bush, that is tempured by cranberry and orange flavors.”¬† I had never had or smelled an African Red Bush so I hesitated when I opened the tin. However, what greeted me when I opened it was a lively aroma or many fruity flavors, the cranberry and orange quickly diminished¬†any fearI had of brewing this tea. As the hot water hit the tea sachet, I felt a calming sensation come over me. It was awesome.¬† Cranberry and orange splashed my tongue as I took my first sip and immediately I was in complete bliss. It was then and there that my tastebuds were tantilized with the awesomeness that is herbal tea.

Hot Cinnamon Spice was an impulse buy, I am not going to lie. I was going over to the store for another tin of African Autumn and I got a wiff of this spicy sweet treat.  The smell alone was all the convincing I needed. Happy with my double purchase of teas, I walked back to my studio to brew this new tin of deliciousness. Fresh cinnamon kicked back as the hot water splashed into my cup. I felt like a kid a christmas as the sweet and gentle spice of the tea gracefully tickled my tongue. It was magical. I think I consumed the entire tin in a week.

I knew the store where I purchased the tea was going to be bringing in their Christmas blend and I was so excited to try it so I took a little walk down the street to see if I could get another Hot Cinnamon Spice and a Christmas Blend Tea.  Sadly, they had sold the last tin the day before. Disappointed I asked if they had anything similar.  Unfortunately they did not but, to my surprise they just got a chocolate tea that was mixed with coconut. I like chocolate and I like coconut. I hesitated though because I have tried other chocolate teas and was very disheartened by their lack of chocolaty goodness. Seeing though, as I had not been disappointed by this brand of tea yet, I thought I would give the tea named SOHO a try.
Again, I was not disappointed by this flavorful delight! The chocolate was just as distinct as the coconut and each flavor held true to itself. I was in heaven.  As the tea sat in the hot water the chocolate got bolder and the coconut gave it nice sweet finish. Another amazing tea to add to my repetoir. It was after this round of tea that I felt compelled to do a little research and talk about the tea-mazing benefits of drinking this wonderful sachet of bliss.

What I found not only gave me another great reason to unwind with a cup of tea but it also has peaked my interest in the health benefits and how it can help people live a better life. Some of the common health benefits include:
1. Calm state of mind
2. Promotes wellness and energy
3. Lowers blood pressure
4. Improves skin
5. Strengthens the immune system

All I have to say after all of this is THANK YOU Harney and Sons for¬†providing an awesome product with quality ingredients. It is because of my experience with their tea’s that I have been made aware of the brilliant tastes and health benefits that tea can offer!
Written By Julie S.

Posted in Teaching yoga, wellness, Yoga, yoga class, yoga students

Yoga with my Students

*Image courtesy of samarttiw @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

As a new yoga teacher, I try really hard to stay conscious of “bad” habits such as using passive language and being cautious of “doing” the poses with the class unless they need to see an example. My personal goal as a yoga teacher is to teach to my students so that they can take from the class what they need. I set intentions for the class making sure there is a clear focus on what my plan is for the class and I am cognizant of watching the class to make sure that everyone is “OK.”

Last night however, was a slow night and I only had one person show up for the class. Rather than send her home, I offered her¬† a private yoga session so that she could still reap the benefits of yoga and not feel like it was a waste of her time to drive over. It’s very rare that this happens so I embraced it and ran with it.¬† What an amazing experience it was and I am so happy it happened to fall that way.¬† I started class as usual, sitting quietly for a few minutes to clear the mind and tune into the breath. I had planned to do hip openers for the class but after talking with my student¬† before class, it was clear that what she really needed was to connect her breath with everything that she did, from movements to intentions. It was a simple but profound focus for the hour but an amazing amount of energy and exhilaration was flooded forth as the practice continued.

As stated earlier, I truly do try and refrain from practicing with the class.

First off, it is not my practice it is for them. 
Secondly, it’s really hard to give a direction from downward facing dog.¬†
Third, well it’s just not practical because it’s too easy to get lost in your own practice and lose sight of those whom really need the attention.

¬†However, as I began the warm up and moved into the meat of the practice, I noticed something that this particular student does not usually do…she was looking around, she looked lost, she looked distracted. My first instinct was to redirect her, repeat the intention of connecting the breath, remind her it was her practice, but¬† rather than creating the comfort I thought these tactics would bring, it made the room more tense. Stumped, I listened to my gut and jumped into the practice with her. Was it challenging for me to direct and practice at the same time? YES it was! Was I thinking this is not right? I should not be doing this? YES I was! But did it bring continuity and comfort and re-connection to her practice? Yes it did!

Some of you may say that this was coddling my student. Some of you would say that I caved under pressure. You are probably saying I should have continued to work through the discomfort. But to me that is not yoga. Not to mention, that to me, that mentality does not embody the essence of what yoga is all about.

My understanding of yoga is that one should not experience painful discomfort, that pushing the body past what it can tolerate is not honoring your body. To me, the body is more than just the physical, tangible body. It is also the mind, the spirit and soul. Yoga is a connection of the mind and the body, its the meditative state the is developed through each of the poses that creates a yoga state of being.

By being with my student, experiencing what she was experiencing, and creating a sense of comfort and calm she was able to focus on her breath more clearly and ease her fear of inadequacy or embarrassment. Each of her inhales and exhales were done with intention and purpose. Poses that she was struggling with earlier in the practice, she was able to dig deep and hold, appreciate and enjoy. When she had trouble with a pose, I was able to dig into the root of the problem by having her watch me do the pose. As she watched¬† I was able to step back after the demonstration and help her understand when to use the muscular energies and the organic energies. I was able to see where her strengths and weaknesses were and together we conquered the practice. Was it choppier that some of the other practices with a full class? Yes. But being able to break things down with her helped her to understand where her body was and what it’s potential with continued practice can bring.

Would I change how I went about the practice yesterday night? No.  I think that it was just as it was supposed to be.  She learned about her body and what she was capable of by feeling secure and safe. She was able to take poses that she struggled with and saw how making the experience personal by staying in tune with the breath can enhance the bodies ability to do amazing things.  At the end of class as savasana was coming to a finish. As she sat up and reoriented herself the glow of accomplishment, the sense of self and the feeling of calm emanated from her face.

I am so glad that every once in a while it is “OK” to break the rules and just go with the flow of a practice. Each time, an opportunity is going to present itself, and this particular opportunity helped to¬† make me a better teacher.¬† I was called on to not only feel the atmosphere and see its profound affects on a practice, but I¬† also had to dig deep into myself and describe the poses¬† from the poses and the students perspective.¬† By doing this, the practice offered me powerful tools in helping my student get the most out of her practice.¬† For that I am grateful~

Written By Julie S.

Posted in children and fitness, exercise, Fitness, health lifestyle, stay at home mom, wellness

The Sun is Shining Good Morning, Good Morning

Image courtesy of koratmember at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“The sun is shining, good morning, good morning!” That’s the beginning of the song to my daughters favorite TV show, The Notekins. As a rule, I like to keep tv shows educational and if the tv must be on, I prefer it to be background noise. But today’s post is not a lecture on how much tv a kid should or should not watch, but rather about getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. Being from up north the days of being able to get outside and play and have fun are limited to approximately 5-6 (if we are lucky) months and it is important that we maximize our days to help teach our children how to play and enjoy the outdoors. “The sun is shining good morning, good morning!” I love it, because it reminds me to go for walks with friends and get my fitness in without it feeling like a drag. It’s hard to get up and go to the gym, actually I don’t go to the gym, with so many free apps and having a few pieces of cardio equipment at home and knowing that I can call a friend to get out and meet for a walk with our kids is an awesome way for me to stay motivated and fit instead.

However, this drive to stay fit and healthy is not just for me. The main reasons are selfish I will admit, but they have to be. By selfish I mean I exercise for my own good, rather than say selfish in terms of vanity.  I exercise to stay healthy and fit for me and not for anyone else. I do not exercise to get outside attention or for looks. I exercise because I know that it is doing ME good and it helps ME stay positive and healthy. Secondary, it is for my daughter. I want her to grow up with the instant motivation to exercise for herself. At first it will probably start out with well, I want to exercise cause mama does, but as time moves on my hope is that she will find joy in going for walks with me or taking a yoga class with me or doing an abs video with me.

I want exercise to be as normal for her as watching her favorite tv show. I want fitness to be a word she grows up thinking is a positive thing to enhance her self-esteem and ability to gain confidence. I want her to come to learn that exercise is something that will help her overcome obstacles. My hope is that she will use what she knows from being physically fit, and translate that into her everyday life. For example, I want her to push the envelope by understanding that if she goes one more mile on a walk where she is getting tired and pushes herself to finish, that she will also be able to apply that to her studies. When math gets tough and she wants to quit, she will push herself that extra mile and stick with it til she gets it right. Of course I am not advocating for her to become obsessive or neurotic, but rather I want for her to see that anything is possible.

She does it now as a baby, she see’s no reason why she can not climb up the ottoman in order to stand. She see’s no reason why she can’t but one hand in front of the other to crawl to a toy she wants. Right now she does not know the phrase “I can’t” and that is something I feel that is important to continue to develop in her. ¬†Instead I want her to learn something that I learned a little later than I should have and that is, what can I do to get me to where I need to be?

This is basic problem solving skill and¬†intrinsic motivation and I think that fitness is a great way to help children understand and manifest within themselves this innate process. When we are able to do that one extra push up, we feel good. When we run that one extra mile we feel proud of ourselves. That is intrinsic motivation. When we run out of steam and hit a wall with our fitness goals, we have to learn how to over come it. When we lose a race or can’t eek out that last crunch, we are forced to look at ourselves and say what can I do ¬†to complete that last crunch or win that race? That is problem solving. We have to use our brain and think about ways to accomplish our goals. I want my daughter to be able to do that.

How do I do this or should I say how am I going to do this?
1.  Doing some kind of physical activity with her or around her. Take her for a walk, use the elliptical while she plays with her toys.
2. Praise her for wanting to be around me when I do these things and praise her for wanting to come with me.
3. Not saying I can’t in front of her. Instead, saying things like how can I do this with what I have?
4. Continuing my quest for health and fitness for my own sake. When she sees that mom is doing something good for herself, it teaches her to take pride in herself and encourages self-love and appreciation.
5. Have fun. If fitness does not look fun then why would she want to take part. Show her that I love what I do so much that I want to share that love with her.

Now, I know she is only a baby right now, and who knows 5 or 6 years from now I may come back and edit this blog post with things I have learned that work and don’t work. For now I am going to stick with this. For now I am going to do as I am doing and create a positive energy around motivating myself to exercise and when the sun is shining get out with friends for walks and have a good morning, good morning!
In good health!
Julie