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Fall + Routine - Love it or Hate it?

It’s mid-Fall. Most of us have been cruising, full-on in a routine for several weeks now.  Life feels like it's rolling full steam ahead. How are you? Are you feel like traveling? Getting antsy in your routine? Or does this time of year make you feel settled and like your thriving? I’m curious. From chats with students and friends, I think many of us are feeling one way and many of us a combination of these feelings right now. 

As a yogi, I try to acknowledge when feelings like “antsy” come up, and listen to what’s up in my mind or my body. For me, one of the best little life hacks is to create change ASAP, so I let go of the antsy pants and stagnant energy. 

One of my go-to tricks to create change is to wake up super early, just to be awake. Not to workout or do anything in particular, just to be up and feel the world in it’s really quiet and still state. It;s a great tool to reset,  I feel like I’m in a different world. A world where time pressures, text messages and light are all in their dormant state. I watch the sun rise, slowly, at the opposite pace the rest of the world feels like it’s spinning at most of the time. And I can feel the change in my bones. More calm, more creative, more like me. Do you have any life hacks that you can do in a day that make you feel this way? Please feel free to share. 

I’m also total believer in big change, in getting out there and traveling, and not just wishing you were. And also remembering that there is a time for that. It might be this weekend, or a few months from now. Knowing we can create small change, in our day without giving up on the big adventures. If you really want it to happen, make it happen! Plan it, save up money and good karma, and do it! Or plan to do it :)

View from flight out of Kuala Lampur, headed to Bali! In May 2015.

View from flight out of Kuala Lampur, headed to Bali! In May 2015.

It’s also easy to overlook all the good stuff right in front of us. When we’re settled and in one place, as we often are this time of year, we can focus on things that help us move forward. In our careers, in hobbies or other passions we want to engage more with. 

In just a few short weeks we’ll be in the throws of holiday season. How does that make you feel? My first reaction is a bit of panic. Panic because there’s so much I want to accomplish in a few short weeks. And then reframing to ask myself exactly what that is. Re-visiting my goals for 2015, and re-committing to them. Because if we don’t outline what it is we want, write it down, and then go for it, we’ll never feel like we’re actually getting what we want. Because we didn’t define what it is we wanted in the first place. So even if it’s for a short while, a few short weeks, do yourself a favor and highlight the one or two things, no more! It’s actually easier and quite a relief to be clear about what you’re going after then to wake up every day and make decisions based just on the day. It’s like building your own support system. 

So for me, these next few weeks present the opportunity to get serious about the course I’m working on, and wholeheartedly pour my energy into it. I’m excited to share it with you all very soon! So I’m waking up on a mission, everyday, committed to this goal of completing the course and sharing it. I know a few friends are committed to a morning workout and yoga routine right now, and it’s super inspiring. You have the opportunity here, with the fall wind to blow some fresh new motivation into your world. Use it :) Knowing we will break soon enough and fill back up with fun friends and family. So do you, and commit to something while you have the chance. Sieze the last few weeks of pre-holiday craziness for YOU! 

I’d love to know where you all are in this beautiful season! Please comment below, or share anything inspiring - where you’re traveling next, or the mission your on this Fall! I’d love to hear from you :)

And if you’re going on a weekend adventure, or planning your next around the world trip, share that too! I’d love to hear where you’re excited to be next. 

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Feel like you're life is in Perfect Harmony, right now

Over the last few months I've had this theory circling through my brain from a book review I read over the summer. As often happens, I didn't remember the name of the book OR the author, but what did nuzzle into my brain was my reaction to Michael Singer's story of the "The Surrender Experiment" I read the article probably 4 times, it kind of stopped me in my tracks. Michael Singer is a yogi and billionaire, and it's his message + that fact was what first peaked my interest in his story. Shocker, right?  No matter what value we place on money, I think most of us feel a similar intrigue around people that make money, lead, and thrive in a way that supports their values. It's one of the topics that grabs me the most, in personal interest but also as a universal thread that connects my generation, and all of us, regardless of age, who believe we can align our passions and values with our work.

You just don't see those words  in the same sentence often. In my world, in San Francisco, I hear surrender in yoga class, and billionaire when reading about the tech elite. Many of whom have turned to meditation and yoga to help destress and get centered, to take a break from their tech work. But what's curious to me about Singer, is that he embraced yoga and his surrender experiment long before the billionaire part. 

Here's Singer's description of the Surrender Experiment. The excerpt is from the Yoga Journal's Interview with him. 

"The surrender experiment is a challenge I gave myself to try to allow life to unfold around me without struggling with it. We are all intelligent enough to realize that we are not in control of 99.9 percent of what goes on around us. Our hearts beat, our food digests, and our cells divide — all without any intervention of our own. Likewise, the planets stay in orbit, and the entire rest of the universe unfolds on its own. We are not controlling any of this, yet it has been unfolding in perfect harmony for billions of years. If the forces of creation can create and maintain the entire universe, every moment, are not the moments unfolding in front of me part of this same universal perfection?

When I was in my early twenties, I took one look at this and realized that all the moments of creation are part of the same interrelated perfection. They have nothing to do with me; they belong to the forces that created them. All that is happening each moment is that I’m seeing the result of 13.8 billion years of forces that interacted together to create exactly what is in front of me. That being the case, I decided to experiment with surrendering to that perfection instead of listening to what my preference-driven mind had to say about it. Specifically, when something appears in front of me, I try to honor and respect the enormity of its origins, rather than immediately judging whether I like it or not. That is the surrender experiment, and my new book is about what ended up happening as I aligned myself with life instead of struggling to align life to me."

I am reading "The Surrender Experiment" now, and will post more if people like this article, about him and his life, and anything else you want to know that I can gather from the book.

Alignment. I like that word. While many parts of the article resonate with me, it's the part that I can tie into my life most clearly. When do you feel most aligned in your life? 

I feel aligned in my life when I..

Remember things that are important to me and to pay attention to them.

I believe in things bigger than myself.

I am connected  with people I care about that share similar values. friends, family, students, teachers. Moving to a new city has been a great opportunity to be intentional about who I chose to reach out, connect with, and even those I remind often to come to my yoga classes! (consider yourself lucky to be pestered) Because those are the people I feel connected to. They support me, elevate me, make me laugh. I think they feel the same about me. Without overthinking it - who are the people you feel most excited to be around? Instead of hanging out with people you "should" see, because you haven't seen them in a long time, or even because you "should for work", you may consider doing what makes you feel more aligned, and coming back to work the next day feeling super aligned with yourself and what you want, having refrained from being around potentially draining energy. 

I am focused on organization. In my thoughts, actions and work. I am a creative person and can float around in my creative head. Staying organized and using healthy habits to keep me moving forward in my work and in my day is a huge part of feeling aligned with doing what I say I will do and meeting my goals.

I am listening and adapting to what my body and mind need.  I can tend ebbs and flow on big curves, where I'm really into  running or endurance exercise a lot, and then something hurts and I jump full on back into yoga. Allowing myself to embrace whatever I'm doing, and recognize that balance of both things often makes me feel best. Because the alignment comes from when I feel balanced, and beyond physically, when can mentally easily flow back and forth to incorporating both movements into my life. 

I am balanced.  Specifically with alone time and friend/relationship time. With structured time and free time. With still time and active time. And then, even being OK with feeling out of balance sometimes. 

I also consciously wrote  I am all of those things. You are, already, all of the things that make you feel aligned. Just call them out to remind yourself!

What are the things that make you feel aligned? I'm so curious! And what are the things that hold you back from feeling aligned? I'm also curious to know what readers think of Singer's perspective and if you feel like this jives with you? Did it give you a new perspective? Or did it not really resonate with you? You're probably not reading at this point if it didn't :)

I truly believe there are infinite paths for success, and aligning your values with your work. There is something for every type of person. I believe there are many possible paths, and that there isn't "one path" where we'll be most happy. I know for a long time before committing to teaching yoga and starting an online community, I struggled so much figuring out what "THE thing" was. There is no "right" path for anyone. I think too often it's "idealized" to quit your job to be a yoga teacher. Or be an entrepreneur. Sure these can be great things and great careers - if you want it. But I can tell you it's not "the" thing to feel aligned and happy. It's ONE way.  Everyone contributes in their own perfect way, including you :)

Thanks for reading! And if you want to hear more about Michael Singer, watch his video

Please also feel free to comment here, email or leave a comment on the FB page if you'd like.

 

 

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Up Your Yoga Game (5+ levels) Especially If you Practice Vinyasa Yoga

Game: a non-competitive practice to engage your mind and body in “playing” yoga with you :)

Game: a non-competitive practice to engage your mind and body in “playing” yoga with you :)

In true Yogi form, we practice “honoring the body over honoring the pose”.  We hear often that yoga is individual, to do what feels good for your own unique body. And I couldn’t agree more. Yoga is a rare opportunity in our day to tune into our own body and our wisdom.

Yet there are some super simple and game-changing(!) pieces of the yoga puzzle that we don't hear in yoga classes. The focus today is on an anatomy fundamental principal that everyone can tap into and benefit from, and that’s the engagement of reciprocal inhibition (RI). Reciprocal Inhibition is the single most powerful tool I’ve found to physically improve my practice, and the practice my students.

Moving with awareness of reciprocal inhibition will help you strengthen your body, and turbo-charge your power. You may also reduce your risk of injury and get the maximum benefit from your practice.

BIG WORDS, MADE SIMPLE..

Reciprocal inhibition describes the process of muscles on one side of a joint engaging (contracting) to allow muscles on the other side of that joint to relax (lengthen).

Photo from The Key Muscles of Yoga.

Photo from The Key Muscles of Yoga.

Your knee is the joint, and big muscles on either side are hamstring and quad. Recipricol inhibition means you’re engaging your quad to allow your hamstring to relax. 

 

 

WHAT IT MEANS IN YOGA PRACTICE

Engaging RI means moving through asanas as active stretches instead of passive ones. 

As a student and teacher, I watch so many students move through many of the asanas (poses), especially folding positions of flexion in the body as passive, resting poses, instead of being active in them.

In most 60 minute vinyasa classes, you are likely to only move through a handful of passive poses. Depending on your teacher, you’ll probably spend 75% of the practice in active poses.  You’ll be at a much bigger advantage to approach poses through an active stretch mindset, and then move into a passive state, than the other way around.

BREAKING IT DOWN - HOW YOU CAN DO IT :)

Watch my video here!

Let’s break down one of the secretly hard yoga poses, Halfway Lift, to understand how to benefit here from RI engagement.

There are 2 recipricol inhibition actions here!

The first one mimics the first photo above,  Engaging the quads to stretch the hamstring.

The second is engaging the core to lift the lower back. This pose is about building core strength. Your core being your low back and your abs. If you just lift your chest and your head, and skip out on the full movement of tightening your core, you end up losing the benefit of the practice, plus you make your low back vulnerable for injury. As the most cited injury with yoga, low back pain is the last thing you need.

 

HOW TO INCORPORATE, SIMPLE STEPS

1) Start at home and feel your way through. Watch this video, then starting slow, practice on your own.

2) See how it feels in your body, then bring it to class. Half-way lift is a common pose you might move through a dozen times in class. If you haven’t been engaging RI, chances are you will fatigue before the end of class. Better to do the pose with good form while you can, and then skip it once you core is tired.

Magic-Wand.jpg

How does it have all of these magical benefits? It's not magic, it's just science and connection to your body. But sometimes when you discover something simple that makes a big difference in your day, or your practice, it can feel like magic.

 

 

Real benefits of engaging reciprocal inhibition

You feel power and strength in your body instead of flopping around like gumby!

It feels SO good to feel flexible. But your flexibility can work against you without strength. If you flop like gumby into a pose, when your body needs support, it’s probably not going to feel good in the long term. I’ve been there, I used to be gumby. Hanging out in forward fold asking myself why my hamstrings never got stronger even though I was putting in a lot of effort everyday.

How it helps to reduce your risk for injury: 

Contracting your opposing muscles keeps your body balanced. In an active pose like forward fold, you can pull your chest in towards your calves all you want. If you don’t engage your quads, your hamstrings won’t relax. You can actually end up doing damage to them by forcing your strong effort upon them without countering the engagement.

Strengthen while you stretch. Always get the maximum benefit of your time and effort.

Build your flexibility and keep it. Do you just feel flexible during yoga, and then it disappears? RI can help. The leaders in yoga science at Bhanda Yoga back it up too.

They reference Shirley Sahrmann, PhD (Professor of Physiotherapy at Washington University School of Medicine) and others who have advocated active stretching as a means of increasing muscle flexibility. It improves flexibility of the muscles on one side of the joint while improving strength and function of the muscles on the other side.

** Please keep in mind, I am not a doctor, or a scientist. I am a yoga teacher who has recovered from several sports injuries through yoga. In my studies of anatomy, my body, and in the study, practice and teaching of yoga. This information is based on my findings and supporting articles from trusted sources.

 

 

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Take it Outside: Effortlessly improve your yoga practice and get energized. 5 reasons to work outdoor yoga into your day.

1) Ground down to lift up. 

Being outside can help us feel grounded. It makes sense that practicing outside helps us to root down, let go of the stress, and from there build strength.

2) Feel free and welcome new possibilities.

Being in wide open spaces helps us feel free and imagine bigger things in life. We let go of the details and business of our everyday lives and make room for new opportunities. Imagine the impact of regularly practicing outside a few times a week.  Practicing sun salutations under actual sun rays. Find your momentum while feel of the waves. Sometimes all it takes is changing up you're scene to feel like you can get break old perceptions of what's possible. Get a new perspective when practicing inversions :)

3) Get your flow on. Outside there are no boundaries or rules. Instead there is a natural flow of energy and movement. The landscape undulates, the sun and clouds shift the light, and we can effortlessly tap into our yoga flow.

4) Feel the mental reboot. 

Studies show that spending time in nature improves concentration and your ability to perform direct-attention tasks like decision making and problem solving. A study on Attention Restoration Therapy (ART) also showed that time spent in nature can improve high level executive functioning, in areas like problem solving, by up to 50%. Spend an hour pumping breath and prana (life force) through your body while nature works its magic on you. (I dream of Jeannie wink here)

Sources: Creativity in the Wild Study (ART study)Cognitive Benefits of Nature Interaction Study

5) Best Playlist!  

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Birds chirp, leaves rustle, waves crash. All these sounds and sensations invoke our involuntary attention, giving our brains enough passive stimulation so we are not restless in seeking out more information to process, and rather we can rest and recharge. You know in yoga when sometimes your mind starts drifting and you start thinking about things? That's because our mind wants to focus on something. The natural sounds of nature give us enough to help ease the mind from attaching to our thoughts.

While I love being outside and listening the song of the day, it's also fun to groove out sometimes. If that's your thing, join us for Thursday night beats class and practice with fun jams. 

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