saha nau bhunaktu
saha viryam karavavahai
tejasvi navadhitam astu
OM shanti, shanti, shanti
May we be protected together.
May we be nourished together.
May we create strength among one another.
May our study and practice be filled with brilliance and light.
May there be no hostility between us.
Om peace, peace, peace.
This is one of my favorite mantras, and one the one I most often chant when I lead a class.
This mantra is an affirmation of my commitment to learning and practicing within the context of a supportive community. I do yoga to evolve myself and to evolve humanity. I believe all humans evolve faster in a group than on our own. Plus, having community helps me stay accountable for my actions and growth. When the path is tough, I have buddies who have my back. Together we share the challenges and the gifts of our study and practice. Together we bring more light into the world.
Do you want to be part of a supportive yoga community? Join my Vibrant Soulful Yoga Tribe, an innovative yoga platform where you are a member of a worldwide tribe of yogis dedicated to living a more vibrant, soulful life. You have access to hundreds of practices and can access from anywhere in the world, and you’re part of an online forum where members share their experiences, questions and insights.
Monthly membership is now open. Find out more here!
If you’re reading this, you probably practice yoga asana or meditation either in a group class or on your own. So, I ask you, is your yoga practice a sadhana?
Sadhana is a word we throw around a lot in yoga. Let’s unpack it a bit. There are a few definitions that I find helpful:
The literal definition of sadhana as "a means of accomplishing something.”
This is a good starting place. I practice yoga as a means of accomplishing something, and I bet you do too. What do you mean to accomplish with your yoga? Think about it:
Do you want a stronger, more supple body? A clear mind? A state of steadiness and ease? Are you healing from an injury? Are you looking to manage anxiety or stress? Are you trying to focus on a project? There are many reasons many people practice and the more clear you are on your intent the more effective your practice will be.
Now, let’s look at another definition of sadhana. Sadhana can be defined as a daily spiritual practice aimed a change of consciousness – a deepening of one’s awareness of one’s self and the world.
Ah!, This definition points to another word we use a lot in yoga, svadhyaya, or self study and inquiry. We practice yoga to know ourselves more fully at root and core, so that we can become more conscious of ourselves and the world around us.
And, now my current favorite definition of sadhana. This one is from Maya Tiwari, a beautiful brahmacharini, yoga and Ayurveda teacher, author and founder of the Wise Earth School.
“Sadhana is a Sanskrit word whose root sadh means to reclaim that which is divine within us, our power to heal, serve, rejoice and uplift the spirit. Sadhana practices encompass all our daily activities, from the simple to the sublime - from cooking a meal to exploring your inner self through meditation. The goal of sadhana is to enable you to recover your natural rhythms and realign your inner life and daily habits with the cycles of the universe.”
I love this definition because it expands the usual definition of yoga practice and goes way beyond what we do on the mat. You and I both know that yoga is a way of life. The practices of yoga are as much about what we do in our workplace, in our kitchen, in our bathrooms and bedrooms and with our core peeps as they are about what we do on our mats and on our cushions.
May the offerings on this website and on this blog help you develop a true sadhana, a path of practice that helps you accomplish the things you wish to accomplish in this world, that gives you the tools to know yourself more deeply and that connects you to the rhythms of nature and the cosmos.
Interested in exploring, defining and creating your own personal sadhana? Join my Vibrant Soulful Yoga Tribe Online Membership. it goes live this week!
It’s not your typical online yoga program. Yes, you’ll get great weekly yoga asana practices, and practices that are in chunkable form that you can use anywhere!.
You’ll also get guidance in developing a toolbox of transformative practices including instruction in meditation, breathwork, chanting, intention setting, personal inquiry practices and more!
I’ve spent the past month developing the May content for this platform and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it’s turned out. I believe it is some of my best yoga teaching, and I’m thrilled that it can be shared widely and can be purchased for a really affordable monthly rate.
The May 2017 Vibrant Soulful Yoga Content includes:
Find out more here!
Morning yoga, anyone?
I practice yoga every morning. Even if I only have 10 minutes, I get on my mat to move my breath and body. This ensures that my day gets off to a good start.
I remember when I finally committed to a morning yoga practice. I had already been a yogi for many years. I knew how much better my life was when I practiced yoga regularly. (And, I knew how much worse it was when I didn’t!). But I didn’t have a regular morning practice. In fact, I rarely practiced yoga or exercised in the morning before work. I mostly practiced yoga in the evening.
Looking back, I didn’t know what I was missing! It wasn’t until I become a mom (nearly 18 years ago!) that I developed a morning yoga practice. (If you’re a mom, you know how time gets compressed and personal time becomes extremely precious when kids come along.) After I had kids, I realized that if I wanted a daily practice, I better do it in the morning while my husband was around and could be with the kids, because if it wasn’t going to happen then, there was an extremely high chance that it wouldn’t happen later because I would be too tired.
So, I committed. And I haven’t looked back. Doing a yoga practice each morning is key for getting my day off to a vibrant start.
(Read on and and I’ll share a link to a yoga practice you can do tomorrow morning!)
My top reasons for doing an AM yoga practice:,,
I just got back from a week in Mexico. Part family vacay and part retreat. I spent several days of quality time with my kids, my parents, my sister and her family which was totally awesome. After that, I dove into four days of retreat with my Ayurveda and health coaching teacher and the tribe of yoga health coaches that I’ve been hanging out with online for the past couple of years. Nothing like a powerful group of women invested in collective evolution and co-creative leadership meeting in the flesh to catalyze deep transformation. Things went deep - fast! When folks like this show up ready to dive into their work and up-level their personal and collective vibration, big shifts can happen quickly. That’s what happened to us. It didn’t take long for us to start to show off our super powers. Sure, we were all yogis and health coaches, but among us, we discovered we were also standup comedians, masters of improv, artists, authors, storytellers, networkers, belly dancers, intuitive healers, energy workers, musicians and even a cyclops!
Do you know your Z.O.G.?
I know I’ve written about it lots already, but I’m invested in helping folks uncover and articulate their dharma, or life purpose. To do this, you have to get crystal clear on your ZOG, that is, your zone of genius. I first read about zone of genius from Gay Hendricks in his book, The Big Leap. (He didn’t call it a ZOG, but my friend Elise coined the term last week on our retreat, and I love it.) Gay Hendricks writes about the different zones in which we spend our time.
Stress all Around
We are living in stressful times. Stressors are everywhere, every day: hectic mornings, long to-do lists, power struggles with kids or partners; work commutes with traffic; discontent clients, colleagues, and bosses; long work hours; tight schedules; unpaid bills; challenging interpersonal dynamics; and so on. Maybe our parents’ generation was able to leave stress at the workplace. But, today with smart phones and social media, there are fewer boundaries and less down time. Take all of this and then add in a traumatic life event like a death of a loved one, a job loss, a divorce, or the current presidential election (if you’re a progressive like! me!) and life can seem pretty darn stressful.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that your stress is costing you BIG in terms of your physical health, mental and emotional health and in your core relationships, but just in case you’ve forgotten, I’m here to remind you that stress disrupts every major system in the body.
Chronic stress predisposes you to:
The physiological effects of just one stressful event in a day last a long time in the body. Anytime you experience a significant stressor, your body’s fight or flight response (the sympathetic nervous system) kicks in and bathes your body with cortisol and adrenaline so that you can battle the saber toothed tiger that is running toward you. But, of course, there is no saber toothed tiger, you just forgot to send off that one email. Long after your stressful experience has passed, stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol still linger in your body, wreaking havoc on your digestive system and causing inflammation.
Self Care Habits for Stress
As a health coach and yoga teacher, it’s a major mission of mine to help folks unravel their stress. Whether it’s in a yoga class or in a health coaching program, I want to help people move away from stress and toward ease.
Who are you becoming in 2017? What’s stirring in you right now? What does it feel like?
This is an exercise in naming your word for 2017. By this, I mean to name the quality that you want to be operative in your body and mind this year. If you’re not sure, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting and journaling about it. Make sure you don’t just ask your head. Ask your heart and body as well. Make sure there is agreement and integration.
To do this, close your eyes. Pause soften and breath. Release the lower half of your body into the support of the earth. Exhale down into your sits bones, your pelvis, your legs and your feet. Feel the earth beneath you. Then inhale, and draw the breath up through the central channel of the body, what yogis call the shushumna nadi. Take the breath all the way up to the crown of your head, toward the sky. Now, spend a few breath cycles moving the energy up and down the length of your spine to clear this channel. After a few rounds of breath, inhale and breath into the front of your body and feel into your individual desire to evolve and move forward in life. Then, exhale and breathe into the back side of your body. Lean back energetically, feeling into the mystery that is the universe. The universe has your back. Create an attitude and inner stance of receptivity and curiosity. Notice how you feel. Notice what is stirring in you. How is that you desire to feel in this next year? Drop that question down into your body and notice how the body responds. Let the answer bubble up without forcing it and take notice of the words that arise.
The word could be:
CLARITY, EMPOWERMENT, EASE, EXPANSION, COMPASSION, COMMUNICATION, CONNECTIVITY, HUMILITY, LEADERSHIP, WISDOM, EMPATHY, STABILITY, GROUNDEDNESS, SELF-CARE, KINDNESS… or..?
What is the word for you? Once you feel it, really feel it. Taste it. Smell it. See it. Touch it. Feel into it from a cellular level. Name it and embrace it. Write it down. Put it in a prominent place where you can see it every day.
Then, create for yourself a plan so that you can make this word truly operative.
It’s January, and I’m full of dreams and ambitions! You may say, “Why bother”, or “It’s too hard to set goals.” To that, I will quote Mary Oliver and say, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
You see, I’m not just along for the ride. I also want to be in the driver’s seat. I want to create cool stuff, cultivate satisfying relationships and design great experiences. Even if I run into obstacles, and I don’t accomplish all that I want to this year, I want to feel satisfied that I put energy into what’s most important to me.
This week, I’m re-reading The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran. It’s a productivity book that I read twice already in 2016. The book is designed to help anyone (you, me) take their goals and put them into actionable steps in a 12 week cycle. As a dreamer and big idea person, it’s not an easy read for me because it is the kind of book asks me to pinpoint and clarify my dreams, to break them down into actionable steps, and to measure my results. I tend to resist this because I’m not a numbers person, and I enjoy day-dreaming. But I know what I want to do with my wild and precious life and I have figured out that dreams take planning. This book makes me show up for myself and put my dreams into action. So, I’m re-reading it and I’m putting together my annual calendar of projects and my 12 week plan for the first quarter of the year.
What will you make come alive in 2017? I'd love to hear your big and audacious goals!
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
A NEW YEAR’S RITUAL:
Ever since I was young, I have always loved ringing in the New Year. It has always been a special and potent time for reflecting on my past and envisioning my future. As a kid, I always enjoyed the ritual of writing New Year’s resolutions. As a yogi, this ritual has morphed into what I call Dharma Re-Alignment exercise.
The word dharma comes from Sanskrit, and it refers to your unique purpose and passion in life. The Dharma Re-Alignment Exercise is an opportunity to get clear on who I am, who I am becoming, what I stand for, and where I want to put my time and energy. I created this exercise as an opportunity for me to reflect on the essential nature of my being, a way of owning who I am and who I have become, a means of acknowledging my gifts and challenges, and a way to align to these as I take aim for the New Year. The understanding is that I am not the same as I was twelve months ago. Thank God! Hopefully I have evolved. That is the point! Hopefully I have learned and grown from the past year and have acquired new gifts and skills to take with me into the New Year.
You see, dharma is dynamic. I am and you are in a state of evolution. We are works in progress. Even as I still feel myself to be the same person that I have always been, I have been growing and changing during the last year, and my identity has shifted some. My desire is to be in a co-creative relationship with the Universe. I have come to strongly believe that the Universe has my back and is conspiring for my evolution, and the best thing I can do for myself and for the planet is to cooperate with this and figure out who I am and live this on purpose.
If this resonates with you, then I invite you to join me in a new year's exercise to clarify what is making you come alive in 2017.
Download the written exercise here:
Listen to audio to be guided through this lesson here:
If you like this exercise, share the love!
If your life is anything like mine, the month of December is intensely busy with activities, to-lists, gift lists and holiday events. Peace and tranquility is what we all want, yet for many, this holiday season is far from peaceful.
Yet, I believe in my capacity (and yours) to cultivate peace this month and and anytime.
A daily yoga practice is key for me. Make your yoga practice count this month. Get to yoga class. If you can’t, unroll your mat or place your cushion, set the time and give yourself 15 minutes of asana, meditation, savasana or all of the above. You will be amazed at how far even 15 minutes will go toward keeping you in a peaceful state. (Want a guided home practice? Click here.)
Practice yoga asana and meditation to calm your nerves, release agitation, and soothe an over-stimulated mind/body. Practice yoga to steep in the sweet serenity of your deepest core. This is shanti, peace surcharged with ecstasy. Commit to your practices so that field of shanti, felt on the inside becomes more and more a quality of your daily functioning: your thoughts, spoken words and actions. Commit to your practices and good habits so that you can stay in the space of open-hearted-ness toward yourself, toward those you love most, toward those who you may find difficult, and toward all beings.
We usually spend more time with family and friends during the holiday season, and thus, the season is an opportunity to cultivate our positive connections with others and spread goodwill. This isn't necessarily easy. Especially in the times we are living in.
To cultivate goodwill, we have to focus on the intrinsic web of unity that binds us together so that our common humanity and common divinity are active in our awareness.
Here is one of my key holiday practices to do this:
To help me keep stay in a spirit of goodwill during the holidays, I focus on the Brahma Viharas, literally the "heavenly abodes", a list of four qualities or mindsets that are embraced by yogis and Buddhists alike as a means for the cultivation of peace inside and out.
The Brahma Viharas are:
Maitri – friendliness and loving-kindness, the wish that all sentient beings be happy.
How to practice this: Take care of your own happiness first! To express goodwill toward others, you have to fill up your own happiness cup first. Be friendly and kind to yourself first and you will activate your natural capacity to be kind to others.
Karuna – compassion, the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering.
How to practice this: Cultivate the attitude of interacting with others on the basis of your shared humanity. Compassion is to see someone eye to eye even when it’s uncomfortable. Be willing to lean into conversations and practice deep listening.
Mudhita – empathetic joy, the wholesome attitude of rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of others.
How to practice this: Emotions are contagious. Happiness is contagious. Brain studies are proving this with the study of mirror neurons. Surround yourself with positive and happy people. This will increase your odds of being happy.
Upeksha – over-looking, equanimity, literally “over-looking”, to look high rather than low, to focus on the highest in ourselves and in others, to stay broad-minded and in a state of equanimity with regard to ourselves and others.
How to practice this: Watch your nagging, especially with the people you live with! Instead, practice seeing these people in their highest, and helping them succeed. (This is particularly good advice for parents and spouses!)
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
May there be peace. May there be peace. May there be peace.
Here is a short and simple guide to help you eat better this holiday season. If you follow these simple guidelines, you will feel better in your body, put on less pounds and be less likely to get sick!
Wishing you and yours the happiest and healthiest of holidays!
I’m writing a series of blog posts on Radical Self Care: Become Your Own Best Care-giver! In my last post, in honor of the Day of the Dead, I wrote about how we learn self-care and care-giving from our own care-givers. In the next few post, I will write about how Ayurveda views self-care.
In Ayurveda, there are 3 main ways we fall into dis-ease. My teacher of Ayurveda, Cate Stillman, has written about these three causes of disease in her blog: How to Sink Your Ship (Ayurveda and the Three Causes of Disease) published by Banyan Botanicals. In this series of blog posts, I’ll unpack each cause and discuss how understanding this can help you orient toward better self-care.
According to Ayurveda, the first way that we way we fall into disease is: prajna parada, or making negligent choices.
I’ve written in a couple of blogs about what we do when life throws us a curve ball. Well, we sure got a curve ball this week. Like many of you, the election results caught me totally off guard, and I was unprepared for the wave of emotion that hit me in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Disappointment. Grief. Fear. Despair. The election of Trump feels like a blow to so much that I stand for and hold dear. I slept poorly Tuesday night and woke up Wednesday morning feeling contracted, small, and shut down.
Yet, I got up and did what I always do every morning. I got up and did my meditation practice. So did my 12 year old and my 15 year old. It’s what we do every morning. It’s a practice that I’ve cultivated over many years, and I’ve passed on to my kids. It’s the most reliable way for me to steady myself when the world is shaky. It’s a practice that that cultivates resilience in me, the ability to surf the waves of life and to steady myself when life throws a curve ball. Mediation helps me keep the container of my body-mind strong and adaptable. It’s what keeps me whole.
Meditation is no small thing. I do it, of course, for myself. I do it so that I can feel better. But, it’s not just for me. It’s a form of activism. I don’t meditate to get good at meditation. I meditate to get good at life. I meditate so that I can be a better mother, spouse, teacher, neighbor and community member. I meditate so that I can more open minded, see the big picture, and speak and act from a more compassionate and skillful place. I meditate so that I can live my life from a place of wholeness.
An on-going theme that I teach in my courses and explore in my own life is how to become your own best care-giver.
A good way to begin to explore this theme is by remembering our own care-givers and becoming aware of our learned and inherited patterns of care-giving and self-care.
Who were your primary care-givers? Name them. Your mother, father, older siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, etc. Your list can include blood relatives as well as the special people who showed up for you in your life and cared for you.
In what ways did you experience their care? Maybe it was through physical touch, nourishment, humor, coaching or teachable moments. If your caregivers are still living, consider reaching out to them and expressing gratitude for their care. If they are no longer living, find a way to remember them and inwardly express gratitude.
Was self-care something that was strongly modeled in your family of up-bringing? Did the adults in your life model self-care? Can you remember how your care-givers cared for themselves and/or reached out for support when they needed it?
How is your self-care? What habits or practices do you regularly engage in to promote your wellbeing?
Do you teach self-care to your kids or to the people in your life that you influence?
These inquiries are important. Our own personal health evolution requires a strong examination of the habits and patterns that are present in our lineage. The habits that we learned from our care-givers that are life-affirming, we aim to perpetuate. The habits that we learned from them that are not life-affirming we should release. Yoga is a tool for this process.
This week, when you go to your mat or your cushion, choose to be curious about your lineage. Tune in and inquire into the body-mind patterns (postures, emotions, mindsets, etc.) that you inherited or learned. Begin a conversation with your body, your ancestors and your ancestral lineage.
Fall is an auspicious season for remembering our ancestors and clarifying and healing our relationships with them. There are many traditions around the world for remembering our ancestors. You may choose to create a Day of the Dead altar to remember you ancestors, to celebrate their lives, and to invite their benevolent energy to be present in your life. Additionally, the Yoga and Ayurveda traditions offer us tarpana. Tarpana is a relationship healing ceremony aimed to help individuals clarify and release constraints from an ancestral relationship and invite healing. You can read more about tarpana here.
What does it take to be your own best care-giver?
How have your learned or not learned to take care of yourself?
Learning self-care involves acknowledging how self-care was modeled or not by your caregivers. What patterns of self-care or self-neglect have you inherited or learned? This week, notice your patterns and tendencies.
Last month I did a free talk on Healthier Eating this Fall.
You can listen to the entire talk here:
In the talk, I share:
Here is a tip sheet that you can download and put on your fridge to help you stick to healthy eating. Enjoy!
Fill up your cup! Build ojas
According to Ayurveda, ojas is the life sustaining vitality that promotes immunity in the body. I like to think of it as your energy reserves. Ojas is responsible for sustaining your physical health, mental clarity and emotional well-being. You know when you see a friend who has been taking really good care of herself? She has a radiant smile and sparkling eyes, and you comment, "Wow you look fabulous!" She is letting her ojas shine. When you have a lot of ojas, your cup is full. Your eyes are bright. You look well-rested and content.
When we spend too much time in the fast lane, we spend our ojas quick. You know what I mean - working long hours, forgetting too eat, not getting enough exercise, not getting enough social time. This is a sure way to deplete your energy reserves. The next thing you know, you'll feel crabby and cranky and come down with a cold.
We build ojas by good wholesome living. Fall is a great time to do this. Here are a few ways to build our ojas this season:
INQUIRY: What is one thing from this list that you can prioritize to build your ojas this week?
What do you do when a curve ball comes into your life? Although we can wish that life would stay neat and tidy, the reality is that life is messy. Unexpected circumstances arise. We all run into difficulties, blunders and are subject to accidents, losses and tragedies. Some great and some small. Curve balls hit even those who have the best laid plans. Every human being experiences adversity, stress, challenge and loss.
It is what we do when we experience daily stress or a curve ball hits that can make all the difference. This is resilience, and it is something we can cultivate. Resilience is the ability to adapt to new challenges, manage stress and recover quickly from adversity. While it may seem that resilience is an in-born trait, the fortunate reality is that resilience is a set of skills that can be cultivated. Resilience as the ability to surf the waves of life. Resilience requires a sensitive, strong and adaptable “container” of body-mind. This is something we cultivate through steady and reliable habits and practices that help us adapt, stabilize, rewire and thrive. These habits and practices help us effectively deal with the everyday stresses that arise, so when a curve ball hits, we have to fall back we can bounce back.
Yoga, meditation and my daily Ayurvedic routine are my pillar practices and are my saving grace. Without them, I would be much less grounded. I would be less clear-headed. I would be a less present parent and a less compassionate spouse. These practices act as a buffer and a balm to help me stay steady and grounded and keep my cool with the day-by-day predictable stresses. Of course, the unpredictable challenges or curve balls are always going to be hard. It is very tough to stay steady in the wake of a tragedy or surprising health diagnosis. Such circumstances can broadside us. They will make life topsy-turvy. We might wobble. We might fall. However, if we have practices in place, we are in a stronger place to get back up. The daily regularity of these practices cultivated over a long time cultivates resilience, the ability to rebound after adversity.
I want to be resilient and I want my kids to be resilient. So I do my practices every day. No matter how crazy life gets. In fact, the crazier life gets, the more important it is that I do my practices. When time is crunched, I may do abbreviated practices, but I still do them. I consider these practices a form of activism. I believe that the world is going to ultimately change from the inside out. I do my practices to strengthen the vessel of my human body so that I can be a strong container to do the work of being a good parent, communicating with care and respect, helping others live more vibrantly in their bodies and in this way, contributing to a better, more compassionate planet.
The days are getting chillier. Apples are falling off the trees. The maple trees in my back yard are dropping their leaves. The natural world is in transition. Ayurveda offers a wonderful lens from which to understand this season and practical guidance for healthy living.
In Ayurveda, autumn is considered a vata season dominated by the elements of air and space.
The qualities of autumn according to Ayurveda are dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool, subtle, and clear. To see this in nature and in our own lives, think of dry leaves and skin, windy weather, erratic schedules, cool mornings and clear nights.
Because this season is dynamic, moving and changeable, there is a sense of new possibility and potential. At the same time, these same qualities of dynamism and variability can leave one feeling overwhelmed or depleted. Ayurveda recommends focusing on the qualities that balance vata.
To bring balance to your life this season, focus on staying grounded, nourished and warm, and create predictability and boundaries in your life.
Ease happens in the body-mind when life is predictable. Not everything needs to be predictable, but enough of life should be predictable that there is a felt sense of rhythm to the day. Rising, moving, eating, working, hydrating, having fun and sleeping need to be pretty predictable, that is they should happen at similar times each day. This rhythm is settling for the nervous system and optimizes our metabolism and digestion.
I think of predictable morning and evening routines as bookends of sanity for my day. My days might be erratic and changing, but my mornings and evenings can be rhythmic and sane inducing.
To create predictability in our modern life, I have to use a calendar. In my calendar, I enter all of the work time, school schedules and appointments as well as everything else that I want to happen in order to feel easeful. I enter in my ideal meal times, my meditation, my yoga, and walking time into the calendar.
How can you make your routines for rising, moving, eating, working, hydrating and sleeping more predictable?
It's great to have a calendar, but for predictability to happen, I have to set boundaries. I have to hold myself accountable for what's on the calendar: getting up when my alarm says to get up, taking a break from work when I say I will, eating on a regular schedule and getting off my devices at night and winding down and getting to bed at the time I say I will (10 PM at the latest!). If I don't enforce these boundaries, I'll sleep in. I won't do my morning meditation or yoga practice. I might forget to eat a good lunch. I'll probably do screen time too late. And, then, I'll go to bed late and not sleep as long or as deeply as I need. And, the next day, I'll sleep in again and not exercise again.
So, this season, I'm learning to do what my calendar says I will do. And, when that doesn't happen (because it won't always happen!) I have to reflect on why it didn't happen. Maybe there was a spontaneous invitation to go to a music performance and I stayed up later than usual and then I didn't get up at my usual time. That's great and fine once in a while. Or, maybe I just chose to not honor my fatigue and I stayed up too late working on my computer rather than winding down and going to sleep. Reflecting means that I own the situation and I can then make better choices next time.
When I adhere to healthy boundaries, my life feels more grounded and easeful because I am less likely to over commit myself to people or projects, and I will protect the time in my schedule set aside for movement, relaxation, friends and family.
Where you can firm your boundaries in your life to create more sanity and ease?
For more tips on healthy living this season, check out my tip sheet:
How to live Vibrantly in Autumn
My kids, River and Sage, and I just got back from 8 days of non-stop fun, incredible music, high level creativity and awesome community at the Valley of the Moon Fiddle Camp led by master Scottish fiddler, Alasdair Fraser, in Boulder Creek, CA. I was the resident yoga teacher, teaching yoga to the musicians (who could manage to get up after late night jamming!) every morning, and participating in classes and community activities throughout the day. It was my third year of attending the camp, and it was not only a total blast, it was also a life changing experience. Fiddle camp is totally different from say, a yoga or meditation retreat, but in the end, the life changing effect is very similar.
Here are some of the lessons I learned at camp this year:
Do you struggle to find balance in your life? I know I have. In the past, I have found myself busy from morning until night rushing from here to there, “getting stuff done”, crossing off items off my “to do” list, yet not really feeling like I was living the vibrant and balanced life I wanted to be living. It hasn't always been easy to balance my responsibilities of raising and educating my kids, teaching yoga and wellness, engaging in community activities and finding time for myself. Despite my many years of being a yogi (25 +) and despite all the practices I know and teach, I have struggled a lot in life to feel balanced.
My days involve household work (cooking, meeting the kids' needs, car-pooling), my wrok (teaching, administrative tasks, and personal studies) and personal practices. It's a lot, andI'm sure you can relate to your own circumstances. There are more times than I’d like to admit that in trying to do it all, I have worked too hard, stayed up too late, slept poorly, consumed too many crunchy salty snacks or sweets, wasted time on low-level activities, suffered from poor digestion and neglected my own self-care and fun! Being in peri-menopause doesn’t help either! Ask my husband and kids. They’ll tell you a stressed-out, cranky yoga mom is not a fun person to have around!
For a long time I didn’t know what to do to make my life feel balanced. I wasn’t about to give up my family duties and dedication to raising my kids in the way that I most believed. I wasn’t going to give up the work I love. And, I certainly wasn’t going to give up my yoga!
I’ve been back in Peru for a couple of weeks now and enjoying reconnecting with my community. Since I haven’t been teaching local classes for a couple of months, I decided to reach out to plan a little gathering to reconnect with my Maple Grove Yoga and Vibrant Living folks. I hosted an outdoor yoga class followed by a potluck. It was so fun that I plan to do it again and invite all my yoga peeps, so stay tuned - I have a big backyard!
The women that came to the gathering are all long time yoga practitioners. Most of them have been taking classes at my home studio for many years. Over the years, they have become a strong community. They support one another in learning, growth and life transitions on and off the mat.
I dedicated the yoga class to the power of community. We don’t evolve on our own. Humans evolve best with support and guidance. Whether you are working on strength building, committing to a meditation practice, eating better, improving self-care, parenting better, or aging more gracefully, having community support makes all the difference.
Since we were practicing yoga outside surrounded by forest, I felt inspired to also invoke the elements of nature. I offered a guided meditation on the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, space), how these live inside us, and how different individuals serve as support and guidance to us via embodying these elements.
Try this exercise:
Read the musings below and spend a few minutes in quiet reflection or journaling. Consider how each element is embodied by different individuals in your life who serve to support you in growth, development and inspiration.
Earth – GROUNDEDNESS. Who in your life serves to ground you, anchor you and stabilize you in times of upheaval?
Water – FLUIDITY. Who in your life helps you flow, encourages you “go with the flow”, and assists you when you are stuck?
Fire – POWER + PASSION. Who in your life ignites you, empowers you, and gets you focused on taking action?
Air – MOBILITY + CREATIVITY. Who in your life inspires you to think outside of the box and gets you into your creativity?
Space – EXPANSION. Who in your life helps you expand beyond your limited constructs of yourself, and helps you step into your Big Self?
Are you looking for a supportive community to help you deepen your yoga practice?
Are you looking to find other thrive-seekers to join you and support you in creating habits for a more balanced life?
it’s not fall yet (no, not yet please!), now is a great time to make plans for joining a fall class or program with me (many of these classes fill quickly). You can check them out here.
Greetings from the Andes! I am spending six weeks in the Sacred Valley of Peru and my most recent blog posts are snippets of the lessons and experiences from my time here.
For much of my life, I have been a student, traveler and explorer of many cultures and spiritual traditions. As such, I deeply appreciate this quote by ethnographer, writer and filmmaker Wade Davis:
“Every culture is a unique answer to the fundamental question: what does is it means to be human and alive. When asked that question, the peoples of the world respond with 7000 sources of knowledge and wisdom, history and intuition which collectively comprise humanity’s repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that we’ll face as a species in the coming centuries. Every culture deserves a place at the council of the human experience.”
I have spent a good portion of my adult life as a student and explorer of the traditions of Latin America, particularly the Andes, and the spiritual traditions of India, particularly yoga and Ayurveda. I appreciate the diversity of the human experience and expression, and I love it when I find intersections and common ground between different cultures. Over the past seven years that our family has been spending time in Peru, I have been interested in exploring the intersections between yoga philosophy and the Andean cosmo-vision. I am fascinated with the notion of sacred landscape and ritual offerings in both cultures. As I write this blog post from my home in the Peruvian Andes with a majestic view of the mountains of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, I ask:
What does it mean for a culture to believe that the earth is alive, and how does one act when one has a sacred relationship to the land?
Greetings from the Sacred Valley of Peru!
Oh how I love the food of Peru! Whole, nutritious, hearty fare. I spend quite a lot of time in the markets and in my kitchen when I'm down here each year. In today’s blog, I invite you to check out my best Peruvian breakfast:
Andean super-grains porridge and tropical green smoothie
Here is a 30 minute straight forward Sun Salutation and Standing Pose practice, perfect for getting you up and moving in the morning.
Want more audio practices? Click here.
These days there is a lot of talk about finding the perfect diet, exercise and lifestyle. What diet should I be eating? Vegetarian, paleo, raw, vegan? Should I be gluten free? Should I cut out dairy? Caffeine? What is the best exercise for me? Yoga, pilates? Cross fit? Running? And what can I do to get better sleep, more energy and manage stress?
This audio talk is for you if:
You are finding it difficult to navigate through all of the amazing array of possible health options out there to determine what is right for you.
In this talk I give an overview of Ayurveda’s 3 dosha model. This knowledge can help you understand how to choose an appropriate diet, movement and lifestyle. Stepping into an understanding of Ayurveda allows you to align to your bio-rhythms and to the larger rhythm of nature.
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach, educator and yoga instructor.