Sunday, December 11, 2016

Preparing for a Big Time Commitment

As the New Year approaches I know many people will be thinking about commitments. There will be old commitments revisited and new things to explore. I'm a curious person and there are many adventures I would like to take. Many things to learn. There is one thing I know in my four and a half plus decades of life. You can have it all but you can't have it all at once.

Twice in the past month I have heard that people don't really change until they become uncomfortable enough to change. You eat a poor diet and the doctor tells you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol but you feel fine so maybe you don't really change until you have a heart attack and vow on that hospital bed to change your life. When I was in Virginia this past year at a yoga therapy conference I heard one of the speakers say there are two ways to learn. The hard way is to have to pay a consequence or suffer from your mistakes and the easy way is to observe others. If you want to have money do you ask a rich person or a poor person how to accomplish your goal? If you want to be happy do you ask a negative person? Heck no, you find a pleasant and peaceful person.   

My career is one that has been based on many, many years of trainings. It is also a career that has required to me to constantly train and keep up. This means working sometimes seven days a week. I have learned quite a few lessons over the years to keep up with this schedule and I thought I would share them here in hopes that it would help the readers and especially in hopes that it might help some of my students. 

1. Keep a nice big paper calendar and sync it with your calendar on your phone/computer. Do this every couple of weeks. 
2. Fill your calendar out in advance. 
3. The week of your training or big commitment do not make any unnecessary appointments. 
4. If something comes up that you must do, such as a child's school event, then go but plan so that it's not to exhausting. Go right home after. Have an easy meal prepared that evening before you go.
5. Avoid alcohol the week of the event or training. Also avoid artificial sweeteners a few days before something that requires heavy thinking.
6. Eat a healthy diet.
7. Take your vitamins. 
8. Have a regular sleep pattern. 
9. Avoid negative media. 
10. Plan time off. I plan my summers with as few working weekends as possible. I make sure I am off two weeks at Thanksgiving and no weekends for three weeks during Christmas. Most months I have to work Monday to Thursday at my day job, every day at my home office and two to three weekends a month teaching or taking trainings. It is imperative that I "KNOW" I have some time off coming up so that I don't get exhausted. 
11. Take mini breaks during the week. If you are working seven days a week can you sneak in a couple of hours to do something you enjoy. Maybe a pedicure or a massage, maybe a 4:00 matinee, or dinner with a loved one. These little mini breaks are very important to not getting worn out. My dear friend once told me she enjoys one hour of mindless t.v.. One hour of relaxing is very helpful to your nervous system. 
12. Do mini exercise sessions. I do 7 minute workouts, 10 minutes on the treadmill, 5 min meditations. Sometimes I'll do them throughout the day. This is essential to my mental and physical health. 
13. Do not take on many commitments at once. Stay focused on one goal at a time. Occasionally things overlap but be very careful to not allow this to happen to often. 
14. You can not do many things well. There are so many hours in the day and simple daily activities that you must do take up much of your time. If you take on a big commitment try not to take on two at once. Sometimes this is unavoidable. I had three schools going when a dream job came along that I couldn't turn down. I immediately hired extra help to give me a break. It's hard paying that extra money but I also know that I would be mentally drained if I worked 7 days week for a year. So if you find yourself in this situation try to find a way to give yourself some relief. Hire a sitter, a house cleaner, a yard service, or someone to give you a break.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ten Simple Things You Can Do To Reclaim Your Health.

Ten Simple things you can do today to reclaim your health for nearly no cost.

1. Exercise for 10 to 30 minutes. Take a walk, go on a hike, ride your bike, do an internet workout video.
2. Meditate or sit quietly for 5 to 10 minutes : I like the Insight Timer app on my Iphone. It's free.
3. Eat some veggies (not fried).
4. Eat a serving of fresh fruit or a healthy fruit smoothie without the sugar.
5. Drink a few glasses of water.
6. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings or call and ask about how they are.
7. Make a meal plan for the week that includes beans, peas, grains, fruit, veggies, clean soy, nuts, and yogurt.
8. Give or get some hugs.
9. Shut off all social media and news for one day or at least 1/2 a day. Turn the dang phone off.
10. Go to bed on time or an hour early allowing for a full 8 to 9 hours of sleep tonight.

Ten Simple Things You Can Do To Reclaim Your Health.

Ten Simple things you can do today to reclaim your health for nearly no cost.

1. Exercise for 10 to 30 minutes. Take a walk, go on a hike, ride your bike, do an internet workout video.
2. Meditate or sit quietly for 5 to 10 minutes : I like the Insight Timer app on my Iphone. It's free.
3. Eat some veggies (not fried).
4. Eat some fruit in it's natural state.
5. Drink a few glasses of water.
6. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings or call and ask about how they are.
7. Make a meal plan for the week that includes beans, peas, grains, fruit, veggies, clean soy, nuts, and yogurt.
8. Give or get some hugs.
9. Shut off all social media and news for one day or at least 1/2 a day. Turn the dang phone off.
10. Go to bed on time or an hour early allowing for a full 8 to 9 hours of sleep tonight.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Letter to Yoga Teachers:
Dear yoga teachers, I know we came to this practice because of our own problems most likely. Possibly it was physical, probably anxiety, depression, back pain, or stress. Possibly you were introduced to yoga by a friend, social media, your local gym, or maybe you saw some ad and thought it would be cool. Then you decided to become a yoga teacher/ instructor. You went through a 200 hour training, hopefully a good one and felt more nervous about teaching then you did the day you walked in the door because you realize how much there is to learn. The more you teach the more you realize you have to keep learning. You realize the world of yoga is so vast that you will never know everything. And that is okay.
Social media is covered with people of all shapes and sizes doing yoga. Any topic you can think of now you can find with the word yoga attached to it. There is goat yoga, dog yoga, restorative yoga, power yoga, prenatal yoga, children's yoga, acrobatic yoga, aerial yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga, chair yoga, yoga therapy, yoga for healthy aging, face yoga, yoga for trauma, yoga for PTSD,and the list goes on. It almost makes your head spin.
It's commonplace now to see people wearing mala beads, headbands, flowing clothes, fitted yoga pants with sustainable footwear. Call me guilty, it's my favorite style.
You have people in the yoga world fighting over the integrity of yoga, over what's the real yoga, or what is acceptable and not acceptable. What is a good teacher training what is not a good teacher training. Who should be allowed to teach and who should not be allowed to teach. It's just so dang un-yoga like much of the time. The whole concept of do not harm (Ahimsa) seems to be very lost.
I believe it's created a crisis for so many yoga teachers, people with well intentions who get disgusted with it all. I've fallen into this trap myself especially in the area of Sanskrit. I'll pronounce something a certain way only to be corrected and then be corrected again. Usually to find out I was saying something correctly in the first place.
I can only speak from my scope of practice and my experience.  Many years ago I walked away from yoga for seven months and came back to train teachers. Here is what I have learned and still work on every day. Don't try to keep up because you can't, just be yourself. I've been practicing meditation for 31 years and yoga 27 years. I have been blessed with awesome teachers, some famous and some not famous at all but just as awesome as the famous ones. The best gift they gave me was to constantly remind me and my fellow students that yoga is about losing the constructed self (ego little self i.e. hungry, tired, cranky self, look at me self, vs big self i.e. connection to something bigger). Boy does that seem to be lost. So much of the time when I turn on social media or open a magazine or see a yoga ad I just get so turned off I think to myself "Nah, I don't want to be part of that". The pressure is unbelievable to keep up. Here is what I would say to sustain yourself or what helps me: "Separate your personal yoga practice from the commercialism of yoga." Study what you're interested in not what you think is going to sell. Dress in a manner that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. And be mindful of self-promotion and what message it sends to other people. The only people who really care about your ability to teach are the people you serve through your work. And remember at the end of the day the person in the grocery store line, your kids, your spouse,the people who will likely come to your funeral don't give a rats patootie about your yoga pants or your headstand. Be mindful of where you put your energy for your own self preservation.

Monday, July 25, 2016


Yesterday I found out that a friend of mine joined "The Club". This is not a club that meets weekly to have drinks and play cards, this is not a club with dues, or officers. No, this is a club that nobody wants to belong to. It's the club of broken hearts and betrayal.
Because I am a student and teacher of philosophy I spend a lot of time pondering things. Yesterday when I heard the news my heart hurt. It often takes being in the club to want to be around other people in the club. People in the club are often sad and vulnerable and angry, especially in the beginning, and in the middle and not as often a few years later. Not exactly good times for the most part. The sucky thing about being in the club as a veteran is that you know there isn't much you can do but say "I'm sorry Honey, I love you and it really sucks".  It just has to play out.

When I heard the news about this I immediately thought of the Kleshas and how for thousands of years wise people have known and tried to help us understand our suffering. When I am faced with a tough situation that brings suffering I ask myself "What Klesha applies to this situation?" If it's pain from a fight with my partner it may be all five, however primarily I may realize that my first pain seems to be from my attachment to my partner and my fear of losing my partner and the life we have and the life I thought we would have in the future. Then as I go through them I can recognize and start to deconstruct my pain and in doing so one by one I begin to process my pain. 
Though no one wants to belong to the club of betrayal, or the club of having a terminal illness, or a chronic illness, a disabled child, etc... often times we have no say. The universe puts us in these situations and you have no choice but to deal with it.
The silver lining is this, finding other people in the club that you can talk to and process with who offer you love and support can be very healing. They have walked the path and often you will find love in the most unexpected places.

And at the end of the day what matters is love. Not necessarily romantic love but the love from a friend, the love of self , the love a kind stranger, the love of your animals, children, family, and so on. Regardless of how much you hurt try to find your club members and get the love and support you need. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Nuts about Healthy Living 

For National Men's Health Month the folks at challeneged me to share some tips and this graphic with our readers.Since I teach holistic health I thought this tied in good with the work I do.
I recently accepted a position as a Stress Management Specialist in a Medical Wellness Clinic. We promote holistic healthy living to heal disease. Now not only do we promote it we teach it and it's been proven to work.
 The fact is we are multifaceted human beings and just like the legs on a chair if one leg is broken then the chair is out of balance. It has been scientifically proven that lifestyle has a direct link to your overall health and can even reverse and heal many illnesses.

So what does Holistic Healthcare look like:

1. Eat a plant based diet. If you eat animal products then try to reduce how much you eat. Little changes can start to make a big difference. Things like nuts and seeds are a great way to get plant based protein. Start with one healthy meal a day and add nuts as one of your snacks, go to for more ideas.

2. Get proper sleep, rest and meditate. Meditation changes your brain and can help your nervous system quite down so you can sleep better. One little trick I do is take the timer and set it for 5 to 15 minutes and mediate. There are many resources online to help you meditate. One very simple way is to sit comfortably and close your eyes and see what comes up, when thoughts or feeling arise then name them, such as "That is a doing thought, that is an angry thought" then allow that thought to float away like a cloud. This teaches you to become a witness observer of your thoughts which can help train your brain to control runaway anxiety. You learn you are not your thoughts.
Also eat more nuts as they have tryptophan and melatonin that help aid with sleep.

3. Get proper exercise. Try for twenty to thirty minutes a day. If this sounds like a lot to you then set small achievable goals. Often I will just tell myself I have time to walk 10 minutes on the treadmill. Find something fun to do and keep doing it. For me it's yoga and walking. Yoga stretches your lungs, massages your heart, helps circulation to drain lymph and bring oxygen to your organs and muscles.
And eating nuts helps you get the protein you need to build lean muscles.

4. Think Positive and find Community.  Find something positive everyday that you can focus on. Some ideas are to get a Pinterest account and find inspirational quotes to read. Hang out with positive people. Be mindful of your words and try to spend one whole day only saying positive things. My grandma used to tell me "If  you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all." Do things that connect you to others be it volunteering at the Humane Society, going to a spiritual center, or going to yoga class. We need community and support to be healthy, research has proven this.
The magnesium and zinc in nuts and seeds is also been shown to help with depression.

5. Proper Breathing. We come into this world on an inhale and we leave this world on an exhale. Our bodies take in oxygen when we inhale and expel carbon dioxide when we exhale. We can control our blood pressure and our nervous system simply by learning some simple breathing techniques. Here is an easy one. Sit or stand tall. Inhale and lift your arms out to the sides and up above your head with your arms in line with your ears, fully expand your lungs as you do this. Pause at the end of the inhale. As you exhale close your arms back down like big wings and bring your hands together at the center of your chest as if you were going to pray. Repeat two more times. This stretches your lungs, massages your heart and calms your nervous system. I teach this method to all my clients and students. It's the one thing they all tell me they do when I ask about their practice. It will change your life. You can do it without hands when you want to be inconspicuous.

Have a beautiful day and take care of you!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The paradox of selling yoga.

So I've been in the the yoga business for sixteen years and a practitioner for over twenty seven and have I seen a massive sea change. When I told my ex husband I wanted to teach yoga I remember him saying "Didn't that die in the 60's?.  At that time my feelings were a bit hurt but I didn't give up on my dream because I had been very sick for nearly two years and yoga got me through it. I wanted others to experience that same healing.

Living in a smaller town in the South people would say awful things about me and there would be whispers about me teaching some alternate religion. It was quite horrible, to the point that I quit telling people I taught yoga if I thought someone was going to give me a lecture about my religious beliefs and damn me to hell in the middle of the supermarket.

Fast forward ten years and I can't get away from yoga ads and a variety of yoga all over social media. There is a yoga for everything and everybody and I'm cool with that but I'm also kind of overwhelmed with it. For years I never knew when I was going to have someone come at me for playing "that Hindu" music and now it seems like everywhere I turn someone is capitalizing on yoga. And I understand it because it's my reality too. In order to let people know what I do (yoga teacher training, yoga therapy, classes, workshops etc.) I have to advertise and sell myself so people will know where to find me.

 What I want to address though is so much more. It's hard sometimes working in the world of yoga as you must sell yourself and that kind of goes against the whole "losing your ego" thing we are taught to practice. We who practice  yoga are on a journey for healing ourselves and we are often the most stressed out, overworked, struggling with insecurities, codependent, you name it people. Which is why those of us that are very good at what we do are speaking to our students the many truths we have spoken to ourselves to deal with all our own 'ism's" and pain and suffering. Yoga ask us to look at our constructed self (Ego) and see what parts of that take us away from our higher source, our connection to something bigger than ourselves (for me God). It's a crazy paradox to have to work on letting go of part of your constructed self to then turn and sell yourself, one I don't have an easy answer for but I do know what works for me.

What I have learned and what I observe is this. Most of the world gets up and goes to work and does their job and though they may seek recognition the main reason they go to work is for security and then if they are really lucky they have work that is fulfilling a higher purpose for themselves. They may have to sell themselves but it's probably not in skin tight clothes or skimpy attire doing things with their body that may look very exotic or down right odd to others. They don't have to prove their physical abilities over their education or skills.

Every time we turn around there is a new flavor or the month of yoga and a little bit of insecurity may arise in us "Are teaching the kind of yoga people want or need?" we may ask ourselves. It's almost become what feels like a competitive sport but no one, especially the yogi wants to talk about it because yogi's are suppose to be grateful and humble and kind all the time.

Here is what I have learned from these observations and what works and doesn't work for me.
Social media can be a real distraction. It is best to take breaks often from social media. When I focus on what I am doing and what my strengths are I am much happier. When I compare myself to others then that is the opposite of self care. Listing out my attributes as a yogi and a teacher helps me know what my strengths are and who I need to serve in my work. For me it's important to teach yoga in a way that address the whole person. In order to do this what works for me is to show pictures that are more gentle or serene or simply show my classes in simple postures or meditative states. This gives people the idea that we are safe, gentle, kind, contemplative which is the message I want to send.

The  best way to get burned out is to focus on what others are doing and try to keep up. Just like anything in life showing up is half the battle. It may be boring but showing up, being reliable, always being a student yourself, focusing on what you're good at and being of service are the keys to lasting as a provider of yoga and the key to a happier you. Don't worry about being the flavor of the month, it's always changing just be you and your tribe will find you.

For further understanding look to the Yoga Sutra's.
Below is the Klesha's that which keeps us in suffering.