Tag Archives: healthy-living

Spring Cleaning Week 2

Clutter can leave us feeling bogged down energetically as well as mentally.  When I have clutter, I have trouble focusing and getting things done.  I feel a sense of underlying low level anxiety and stress.  I, like many of you, do not have entire days off when I can clean and de-clutter so I’m left with where to start?!  Recently I completed Laura Thompson Brady’s e-course “Hectic to Harmonious”. http://www.thenourishedhome.com/   This course was amazing and really helped me to set small achievable goals.  One part of the e-course was simplifying your home.   She suggested to pick one small corner or one small area and envision what you want it to look like and feel like and de-clutter or reorganize that one small area.  WOW!  This had a huge impact on me and my family’s  energy level and mental health.  I started with bookshelves as I love books.  I reorganized and gave away books that were no longer age appropriate or ones that were no longer of interest to me.  The energy I obtained from this small task encouraged me to continue this process when I had even just 15 spare minutes.  My son’s art table was my most recent project.  This table is in our kitchen and is one of the first things I see when I walk into my home from the laundry room.  It is a “catch-all” for my son.  If he doesn’t want to take the time to put it away, he puts it on the art table.  I found some great ideas on Pinterest for organizing pencils and crayons  and placed a large piece of white paper on the table.  It looks wonderful and it feels so great to walk into my kitchen now.  I invite you to pick one small corner of your home and de-clutter.  I would love to hear how this affects your life!

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Spring Cleaning Series

Happy Spring!  Well, maybe it’s finally starting to feel a bit more Spring-like.  Spring time often brings a sense of renewal and growth.  A time to release what is not serving you.  A time to plant and grow the things that will serve you.  With the change in temperatures, we often start craving fresher, lighter foods as well as venturing outdoors more to play and work.  I’ve decided to blog about Spring Cleaning for the month of April.  Spring Cleaning our bodies, our homes, our schedules and our minds.  I hope you will join me on this Spring Cleaning Journey to discover what new seeds you can plant in your life and how you will blossom.

Week 1:  Spring Cleaning my diet.  Our liver works hard all winter to clear toxins as we eat heavier creamier foods and more sweets during the holidays.  Spring is a time when we can thank our liver for the job it has done and eat foods that support detoxifying the liver.  Foods like dandelion greens, arugula, lemon juice and beets.  One of my favorite salads this time of year is made with  arugula, beets, (peeled and diced small), with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of oregano.  If you would like, you can add a few crumbles of goat cheese and enjoy!

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The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.
– Thomas A Edison

 

The Power of Visualization

I teach yoga to persons with disabilities where the person often has a weaker side which sometimes cannot move without assistance.  In class I often encourage them to do the pose or movement on the stronger/ dominant side first to really feel in their body how the movement feels.  I then encourage them to close their eyes and visualize the second side doing the same movement.  They will often find an increase in strength and flexibility on the weaker side.  There have been studies done on the powerful effects of visualization even for athletes.  Check out this link.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization.

One morning right before I awoke, I had a dream I was in Crane (Bakasana) Pose.  In my dream, I could feel my abdominal muscles engaging and all the muscles working that needed to work.  During my morning practice, I told my husband my dream and that I was going to see if I could do the pose, which I could not do before.  Wow, I got into the pose with ease.  I shared my experience with my students and encourage them to keep visualizing!

What is something you want for your life?  Try some visualization.  I would love to hear how it works for you!

“To bring anything into your life, imagine that it’s already there.”  Richard Bach 

You’re just getting started

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this 4 week Meditation/Mindfulness Journey with me.  I hope you have found more ways to be present for your life and those around you.  Maybe you’ve found that sitting everyday is a challenge but have found mindfulness in your day to day activities.  As a result, you are living with less stress and the increased ability to be more responsive versus reactive with the difficulties that arise in the ups and downs of life.  I invite you to continue your Meditation/Mindfulness Journey and, would love to hear in the comment section how it is affecting your life and those around you.

Today  or this week, I invite you to do a moving meditation.  This can be a yoga practice if you do yoga or, a walking meditation.  If walking is a challenge but you are able to walk with the assistance of a cane, I invite you to try walking backwards next to a wall using the wall for support.  PLEASE only do this if your doctor says it is okay and if you have support and a friend or loved one near.  Walking backwards is helpful for alignment of the pelvis over the legs and,  may help you to feel more balanced.

As a side note, my son came downstairs this morning and noted that he heard birds singing, I do believe spring is coming.

Be Well!

“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Week 3 of Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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Mindfulness:  Bringing ones complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, (according to Wikipedia).

My word for 2014 is presence, which to me is being mindful and fully present to each moment of my day as it unfolds.  I still find myself worrying about things in the future.  However, as I keep bringing my attention back to my intention of being present, I realize that I’m worrying about something that has not happened and may not even happen.  Instead of getting carried away by the anxiety and feeling overwhelmed which, has an ill effect on my overall health, I, am retraining my brain to come back to the moment.  This retraining creates new neural pathways, (this a whole other blog post).  Even if this moment is not a “pleasant” moment I can deal with it much more effectively when I’m present.  With presence, I can enjoy my meals, my afternoon tea and cuddling with my children with full attention.  With presence I can really see and hear people.  Think about it, when was the last time you really felt heard and seen by someone or, really listened and saw someone?

Week 2 of Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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Here we are at week 2 of our Meditation/Mindfulness Journey.  This week’s practice is Loving Kindness Meditation or Metta Meditation.  Typically with Loving Kindness Meditation we start with offering loving kindness to ourselves followed by our loved ones and then, to persons that are neutral, for example, the grocery store clerk a stranger on the street, finally, we offer loving kindness to people we find it difficult to be around.  You could spend a month or more offering loving kindness to yourself if you feel the need or desire.  After all, we need to love and accept ourselves truly before we can love others.

How:  Find a comfortable position and settle in.  Becoming aware of sensations in the body and then noticing your breath.  Bring your awareness into your heart, maybe placing your hands on your heart.   Silently repeating these phrases or, any that feel more comfortable to you, 2-3 times.  As you are ready you can progress to loved ones and so on:

May I be healthy in body and mind

May I be happy

May I live with ease and in peace

According to Jack Kornfield in Meditation for Beginners, Mahatma Gandhi said, “I believe in the essential unity of all beings, and so I understand deeply that if one person gains spiritually, the whole world gains.  If one person falls, the whole world falls to that extent.”  Kornfield contines,  “thus to wish others well or to send loving thoughts and prayers to another is not simply a rote or automatic activity.  The practice is based on the effect our thoughts and feelings and actions have on the world around us.”

“When you plant lovingkindess in the garden of your heart and continue to regularly nourish and fertilize it, it will begin to spread and grow.”  Jack Kornfield

28 Day Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

“When we take time to quiet ourselves, we can all sense that our lives could be lived with greater compassion and greater wakefulness.”  Jack Kornfield

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Meditation and mindfulness is spoken of everywhere now.  There are multiple studies being conducted on its effects in the corporate world, education, the health care system and the military.  Technology is and can be a wonderful tool to communicate world wide and get things done faster.  However, it can also lead to higher stress, heavier workloads and disconnection.  Meditation and mindfulness offers a tool for living in the present moment. In turn, lowering stress levels and increasing awareness and compassion for self and others.

I invite you to join me and my yoga students on this 28 day journey.  I will post a meditation/mindfulness practice each week.  We will start with 10 minutes of meditation.  I invite you to journal the effects and experiences of your meditation practice.  You are welcome to post comments in order to create a community of support.
How?  It is ideal to pick a particular time of day but if that does not work for you, choose a time that will.  Turn off phones and set a timer for 10 minutes.   You can sit or lay down if necessary.  Sit on a comfortable seat, either in a chair or on the floor.  I encourage you to sit with support under your buttocks to elevate the hips higher than the knees. This posture invites the spine to rest in its natural curves and allows the body to be open for optimal breath space. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes or let the gaze release down, keeping your head in a neutral position with your ears balanced above your shoulders.  Notice sounds, then bring your awareness to sensations of your body and the parts of the body that are in contact with your chair or the floor.  Then bring your awareness to your breath, not changing the breath.
First Week Theme:  “Simply” watch the breath.  I say simply as it is not really simple.  You will find that your mind wanders and many thoughts often arise.  That is okay and normal.  Let your thoughts become like clouds passing by in the bright blue vastness of the mind, not becoming attached or getting carried away by them.  Keep coming back to the breath and the sensations of the breath at the tip of the nose and inside the body.  You could notice the temperature, the texture or maybe the length of the breath. That’s it!

I invite you to notice how this practice begins to affect the rest of your day and your interactions with others.  I noticed how my meditation practice allowed me to respond instead of react to my son’s behavior which helped him to calm down more quickly.  I also noticed a decrease in my anxiety levels as well.

Possibilities!

The start of a new year offers a time to reflect on what is working for you and what is not; what thoughts and actions are leading you to your best self.  The beginning of a new year opens the door to possibilities.  My yoga practice deepens my life experiences and fosters a life lived intentionally.  Yoga offers me the tools with which  to look inside to discover who I am and my purpose in life.  Many use yoga as a form of exercise to tone, stretch and strengthen their body.  If this is what you are looking for, you will find it.  Yoga can offer so much more as well.  A consistent yoga practice can offer relief from physical and mental pain and lead one to potential inner happiness.  Maybe you set New Years’ Resolutions every year and find that by the end of the first month you have forgotten about them or thrown in the towel, seeing the “resolutions” as unattainable.  I invite you instead to open yourself to the possibilities of what this new year can bring you with small but meaningful changes by giving yoga a try.  Yoga is not just for the flexible, (which actually, I’m not naturally flexible).  If you can breathe, you can do yoga.  Real Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis DVD was  created to reach those with MS.  However, anyone can benefit from the yoga practices on this DVD.  We are offering free shipping and handling for the month of January 2014.  Check out this sneak preview of our DVD.

Inhale, Exhale, Pause

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Filling up, emptying, stillness.  Taking in, letting go, bliss.  This powerful breath practice has fostered me through many moments of restlessness and anxiety.  This time of year can be difficult for me and when it is time to go to sleep even though, I’m sleepy, my mind starts to race.  I turn to this breath practice to calm my mind and relax my nervous system.  It is in the pause that I find a moment of absence of thought, freedom from fear, a moment of relief.  When the practice is repeated, it culminates into several moments of inner peace and allows me to drift into a deep sleep.  In the pause, I can be in the now, in the present moment.  Which I know this is the only moment I have, the only moment any of us have.  When you lay down to sleep or any time you find your mind racing, I invite you to notice your breath and notice the pause between the exhalation  and the inhalation, not a holding of your breath, just a natural pause.   Notice the stillness, the peace.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

Yoga in Parenting

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I’m a mother of 2.  One of my children is an 8 year old boy who is a very spirited and intense child.  He is very creative, smart and funny.  He can carry on a  conversation like an adult.  Along with his wonderful qualities he has an intense personality.  He wants things to go as he sees them in his mind and when he is told “no” or that it is time to clean up, he swirls out of control,  like a Tasmanian devil.  Do not get me wrong, I love him dearly and know that some of this intensity will help him be a successful adult but, when he is mad, he is mad and loud. Very loud!  My body cannot deal with this.  My shoulders tighten and I want to yell back, which does not help either of us.   I found a very useful tool that I want to share with all the other parents that may have similar situations or who are simply looking for a tool to calm down before they respond to their children.    Many articles or parenting books advise us to take 3 deep breaths before responding when we are upset.  Sometimes this works but I’ve learned that my body needs to move to dispel the energy and find focus; maybe much like my son.  Instead, I found that 3-5 mini “vinyasas” have helped me so much.  Sometimes I walk to another room or sometimes I do them in his presence, hoping to encourage him to try it and to notice how calm mommy is.  Granted this is not so useful in the grocery story in which case, the 3 deep breaths are doable.

Here are the steps in my  mini yoga session:  Standing in Tadasana, (mountain pose), inhale reach arms out to the sides and up, exhale fold forward with bent knees, place hands on your shins, inhale up half way to a long spine, exhale fold over again.  Inhale sweep arms out to the sides and come all the way up with a long spine.  Exhale arms to the sides and repeat.

“If you can control your behavior when everything around you is out of control, you can model for your children a valuable lesson in patience and understanding…and snatch an opportunity to shape character.”
Jane Clayson Johnson, I Am a Mother