Autumn, How Can I surrender to you?

It's hard to say goodbye to the ease of summer. The heat of the sun kissing our skin and drawing us into the delight of warmth and freedom. The long hot days that call us to water, sand, and mountain tops, barefoot and nearly naked. The outdoor soirees that linger into the warm firefly lit night. The magic of camp fires. The romance of the bright moonbeams as they dance over the sound of laughter and music in the air. 

 We suddenly seem to transition into the bite of colder air and close up our toes in fall boots, wrap our bronzed skin with wool. The deep sigh at the pressure of putting those once abundant, colorful gardens to bed and observing those wood piles that need replenishing. The transitions into new work, carpooling, and our kids' rigid sports schedules can throw us into an initial stage of resistance or even dread.

So how do we surrender to a new season?

The Fall equinox is a perfect balance between seasons, poised and suspended as summer is behind us and winter before us. This state is ideal for reflection, for self-observation and introspection. A time to practice accepting change and let go of the resistance to natural forces which otherwise causes us to struggle.

This is an ideal time to practice "Aparigraha" non-grasping, non-attachment or non-possessiveness, the last of the 5 Yamas  (or restraints) in the 8-limbed path of yoga.

What are we holding onto a little too tightly?

Is it some physical, emotional or mental baggage we've collected through out life's journey? A box of photos or belongings of an old ex that collects dust and takes up space? That relationship that truly doesn't make us feel good? Judgements, negative opinions and beliefs? Let them go. Let them all go like the effortless release of the leaves from a tender breeze.

What is constant, is change. So...how do we surrender?

1. Spend time in Nature: there is freedom and connection in the natural world. Tap into this effortless rhythm of life and center yourself.  Take a walk in the silence of the forest, along a leaf littered trail along a river, or a hike to the top of mountain and allow for this deeper connection to  inspire you to remember your SELF.

2. Be grateful: slough off negativity, let go of the pettiness  and allow yourself to smile, open your mind and heart in order to receive a fresher perspective.  

3. Get to your yoga mat: Breathe long, slow deep full breaths to get the body to release tension, and create calm. It is here we practice aparigraha in the letting go of our breath. If we were to hold it in too long, it's nourishing qualities turn toxic and create suffering. As we trust in the natural flow of breath and guide our bodies to move and breathe fully, we are filled with stronger life force energy.

4. De-clutter: Get rid of those things that do not bring you joy or serve you in a positive way, both in your work space and in your home.

when we let go, we are liberated.

 

 

 

GET An F'in GRIP! 8 STRESS RELIEF TIPS for GRUELING TIMES.

Our heads are spinning over crazy headlines, our hearts are breaking over personal traumas and greater world events. Our emotions can feel stirred to the surface and spin into directionless turmoil. Somehow we need to get a grip.

We need and desire to function in our own lives. We crave balance and grounding in order to feel good, to be able to follow through with our personal responsibilities, to serve the greater good of our communities and touch human kind in a positive way.

Simple Tips for getting an F'in GRIP:

  1. BREATHE: breathing properly allows your nervous system to track back into balance, create calm in the body and let the gripping angst of the mind to release.  Proper breathing first involves drawing the breath deep into your gut and expanding your belly, then allow the breath to continue to rise filling the torso and feeling the ribs expand, then fill the chest. Allow a deep release of the EXHALE. When we are stressed out or in fear we only breathe into the upper part of the chest, tightening neck and shoulders and not engaging the relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system) and remain in the mode of stress (Flight or Flight Response).  Practice taking deep breaths throughout the day to keep yourself centered. This will also allow you to come from a more centered place to act rather than react and to recover from or prevent losing your shit.
  2. THE F BOMB : “FCK it!” ...Drop the F bomb as needed. However, apply it wisely & appropriately~for example alone in your car, outside in the woods, in your closet, with friends/family who can handle or also use the F bomb. Be mindful not to explode it around young children, throwing it out in a coffee shop, dropping it in line at the grocery store, blasting the innocent bank teller-you get the point...and then practice your deep breathing!
  3. EXERCISE: moving your body is vital to getting stress to exit your muscles and tissues and also helps to clear the mind of that exhausting mental chatter. Exercise triggers your body to release endorphins, “feel good” chemicals, allowing for a positive energizing outlook on life. So, go for a brisk walk, take a hike, dance around wildly in your underwear, go for a bike ride, run...whatever form of movement that makes you feel good. Get motivated and just do it, and you will feel better!
  4. GET OUT IN NATURE: Reset by soaking up the nourishing energy of the natural world. Nature provides calming energy, It recharges us and helps boost mental health. Go surround yourself in it and realize the calm place within you.
  5. MEDITATE: Sit comfortably, close your eyes and keep directing your focus to the breath.  Allow the thoughts to come and go without dwelling on or getting lost in them. Just be witness to the moment. Each time the mind wanders, you come back to being here and now. That’s it in a nutshell. To practice staying present is the most powerful place to be because its the only moment where your LIFE is happening. Meditation decreases stress, anxiety and depression, calms the body & mind, Increases mental focus, concentration and creates health and happiness.
  6. DO YOGA: Yoga provides the opportunity for moving out the crazy, letting go of stress and bringing all systems back into harmony and balance. Yoga offers a host of benefits on ALL levels-physical,mental,emotional and spiritual by creating strength and flexibility in the physical body, calming the mind and creating clarity from connecting to an inner source of wisdom. Commit to a weekly practice and feel the shift happen.
  7. CONNECT to YOUR TRIBE: surround yourself with people who have your back, touch your heart, make you hungry for life and nourish you soul. Life is too short and precious to hang with those that don’t or those who are threatened by you thriving. 
  8. LAUGH OUT LOUD: laughter is powerful medicine. It fuels a healthy immune system, decreases pain, releases stress and allows us to feel uplifted from all that pulls us down. Hang with your bestie’s and/or watch a comedy, make it happen.

" Let go of what you can’t control and know that you have within you the POWER to control how you choose to respond!”

OPEN YOUR HEART♡: 8 Ways to Deepen Your Connection With Others

1. Smile

It only takes a second to offer someone a smile and in an instant create a sweet connection. You never know the impact a heartfelt smile has and may be that perfect moment in which someone needs the uplifting, kind energy a smile exudes to simply make their day. 

2. Make Eye Contact

It's been said that the eyes are the window into the soul. A powerful way to connect is to offer your presence through making eye contact. This creates a space of trust and safety allowing another to open up. 

3. Be Present

One of the greatest gifts you can give another is to simply be present. Give your full, undivided attention by putting the phone away, letting go of distractions and feel the connection deepen.

4. Truly Listen

Are you really listening to the other person or are you contemplating in head how you are going to respond? Are you judging the other or swept up in the inner dialogue that runs unconscious commentary? Or are you constantly interrupting? You hear them speak but you are truly not listening. Breathe, Practice listening with you heart and get out of your head. Connect to true listening and truly be there for the people in your life.

5. Show Love

Turn love into a verb and show it! Don't hold back expressing appreciation for another. Take on simple acts of making someone laugh, offer a shoulder or a foot rub,  cook a delicious nourishing meal, hold her hand, write him a love note...

6. Spend Quality Time

Carve out time to be with your loved one/s. Make an effort to schedule that date or activity, as well as creating some quiet time for yourself.

7. Communicate Openly & Honestly

Relationships require open, honest, compassionate communication in order to thrive.  Dropping blame and defensiveness and engaging in heartfelt communication only serves to deepen a healthy connection.

8. Be Bold, Be You

Be authentically, unapologetically you. Masking who you are doesn't serve you, the other or heartfelt connection. Move through the fear of rejection in your head, allow yourself to be vulnerable, share your self with others and create that deep connection.

WARNING: Your Yoga Practice WILL Change Your Life Whether You Like It or Not.

The practice of yoga has the ability to transform us from the inside out, and perhaps those working from the outside finding themselves going inward if they are given the space and permission and gentle guidance to do so.

Unfortunately many western classes disassociate the inner practice of yoga with the physical practice of yoga. In some instances, Yoga itself has become glamorized and commodified and does not allow the practitioner to access the deeper meanings within themselves. Yoga is then seen as egotistical and reflecting only its outer container, the body and primarily focusing on looking good. Statistics taken in 2016, show that $9,300,000.000 is spent annually in the US on yoga accessories (clothing, mats etc...).

When you first practice yoga you may spend the first few classes or years trying to prove something, prove your strength to avoid vulnerability, to get the poses “perfect “ in order to please your teacher, or simply to look good and avoid looking bad.

The ones that do remind you of your inner world, to be present with what's below the physical surface and to meet yourself in a space of acceptance and compassion will transform you on many levels.

When you devote yourself to your yoga practice, consistently returning to your mat, you will strengthen and tone your body physically, enhance your flexibility, find an internal and external balance, calm the mind and foster the desire to nourish yourself in other healthy ways. These may include not only what you ingest, but what kind of people you invite and allow into your personal space, what you are willing to negotiate or what is no longer negotiable.

 When you are guided to inward introspection, you are reminded to let go of what you're no longer willing to settle for, to let go of what you are unable to control, to let go of all that stands in your way to serving your authentic Self as you discover who that is. You gain more awareness into your body, your emotions and how your mind operates. 

You open to what is possible for you.

You may find that you want to settle for MORE.

This opening allows you to witness and experience where you're holding back in your life, exposing yourself to your inner truth, perhaps the one that you have been denying, avoiding and numbing with pastries & wine... because you don’t want to look at your own suffering and sadness and you sure as hell wouldn't want to create discomfort in rocking any boats in fear of change.

When you witness someone else honor their truth, can you help but feel it stir something within yourself? 

Will your own truth be awakened by others who make that bold move into their own greatness, are courageous enough to push through the fear and take the risk to change their life because they know they must or alternatively wither away from an internal death caused by being inauthentic with themselves?  

That truth that has been buried beneath the surface yet gently glowing like a warm ember in the chambers of your heart and in the hearth of your gut will ignite a lick of flame and the warm sensation will rise from the depths of your chest, and burst through the surface as a cellular resounding “YES!” And you will know.

The truth has its own driving force with in us and when given an opening~LOOK OUT! 

Try corralling a thunderbolt, hold back a current or contain a rainstorm with your bare hands. It could potentially change your life for good, and for the greater good even though in the process it appears your life is crumbling apart and you find that you’ve lost all vision of what your future could potentially hold.

Trust the timing of this space of opening. Trust the unfoldment of you life.

Let go of what you think it should look like and open up to the truth of what is before you.

When you can finally come to a place of allowing yourself to breakdown and come apart, to be vulnerable, raw and REAL ~this humbling opens you up to the truth of who you are & gives you the gift of compassion. You see clearly what you struggle with, what you are grateful for, what hidden truths exist beneath the surface, what negative thoughts arise, the judgements and analytical commentary that sweeps through the mind exposing all of the light and dark shades of being human...

When you can look at all THAT with compassion and acceptance you cannot help but be transformed.

When you move, sweat and breath out the layers of accumulated stress,come present to what's real in the moment, release the resistance to what is, press beyond the boundaries of comfort and stretch into a new way of being, you will grow and you will transform whether you like it or not. 

The hidden truths that knot you up inside will unravel and come to the surface, like seaweed on a wave.  You cannot help but to connect to deeper parts of yourself and return to a known wisdom within that you can trust to guide you when you are brave enough to simply be honest with your self.

It is simply the TRUTH. This is an awakening. It may not be want you think you want, It may never have been what you expected or desired and it may not look the way you want it to look.

AND it may be just the thing that will allow you to finally break free and shine more gloriously than you knew was possible.

 

Expansion! life a construction zone~ the tenacious process of demolition and rebuilding.

 It is NO coincidence that I am finding myself in the throws of expanding my yoga studio at this moment in time, now.

The expansion is overdue and as badly as I wanted it, over the last few years of turning students away from full classes, I wasn’t able to make it happen.

There were forces (internal and external) keeping me tethered to a small space.

The process of expansion involves getting real about what’s not working for you in your life, gathering bucketloads of courage and giving yourself permission to do something about it rather than ignoring it or telling it to F off with another glass of wine perhaps coupled with a decadent chocolate cupcake laden heavy with creamy frosting.

The process of expansion then undeniably involves the stormy process of “letting go of what no longer serves you.” 

This seemingly worn out, frayed at the edges phrase casts its timeless presence through the lips of many yoga instructors and weaves itself firmly into the fabric of life itself. 

As simple as this phrase appears, it offers a most profound challenge.

The undertaking of honoring one’s truth and letting go might prove to be easier than you thought or it may be the most arduous, heart breaking, soul wrenching, gut twisting AND necessary experience that you have ever had. 

This process of demolition will crack you wide open in order to stretch the wings of freedom and unearth a grander more authentic expression of you.

As the initial structures fall, shaking the very foundation you stand on and releasing the grip of any control you thought you had, soon many more will collapse in its wake throwing you upside down and sideways as if getting plowed by a wave and tossed into a bruising spin cycle of sand, seaweed and surf leaving you gasping for breath---waking the next morning, after having showered the night before, to find more seaweed and sand tumbling about in the bedsheets.

It is a messy, chaotic process and YET in its midst CAN we catch a glimpse of how the debris lays beautifully scattered?

As we evolve, life changes and Shift Happens!

Change is constant although most of us humans strive to maintain status quo, struggle to remain comfortable and cling to what’s familiar and attempt to settle in. 

The fear of change, of hardship and of loss keeps us anchored.

In the efforts to resist change you will experience suffering. Let it go, and you are free.

We learn that life in its impermanence entails the relentless falling away and the creating anew, a steady construction site of demolition and rebuilding.

When we allow ourselves to extract from the forces that hold us back anything is possible.

The falling apart is necessary to create a space for something new and finer.

We reach for our level to establish a horizontal plane in the efforts to fabricate a well-balanced, congruous structure. We fasten the nails for strong foundation. We select the materials, colors and fabrics that resonate with who we are now. The more subtle and harmonious details continually unfold in our mind as the space expands.

We rebuild.

 “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”`Anais Nin
 

Don't Look Back, You're Not Going That Way!

 Reflections on the Season 

Autumn is a time of letting go and releasing what has been a burden, accepting the impermanence of things and a time to let go of what we cling to that keeps us from expressing the greatest versions of our Self.

Trust in the timing of things that need to fall away.

The Autumn equinox, on Sept. 22, follows fresh off the heels of the full harvest moon and the intensity of the third lunar eclipse carrying with that a strong emotional intensity of breaking free from what we have allowed ourselves to settle for. 

Instead fire up the courage to go after what truly resonates within your own inner integrity and allow for true self alignment. 

What’s being asked of us is to follow our hearts no matter what tugs and pulls on us to resist change.The energies are open to explore what’s possible in a healthy love relationship and to embrace the love that we deserve and desire: are you ready?

What is it that needs to be expressed within you?

Will you face the undeniable internal force that is challenging you to let go? And in that same breath will you face what resists that and challenges you to hold on?

So, we have the choice to breathe deep and have the courage to look into our own internal struggle to simply bear witness to what’s revealed by the light while simultaneously creating space to feel all that’s there that stirs us on so many levels and perhaps awaken to clearer perspective and purpose.

We are constantly and silently pulled by many forces that dictate our actions or non action. 

Fall is a season for balancing the forces of light and dark. Far too often we fear the dark.  How can one befriend the darkness? 

We allow the darkness to be a place of slow, steady gestation and a still quiet space of refuge needed to expand. We trust that the darkness is serving our soul’s growth. 

The light is there to guide us forward as we let go of past hurts, bitterness, relationships that no longer serve us, anger and resentments. Hanging onto all this will only act as poison in your own systems and thus create dis-ease. 

Now is the time to detox and cleanse yourself from all that's not serving YOU, let it go and allow for a healthier possibility for yourself. 

 

 

But I Can't Touch My Toes...

I am amazed at how often I hear people say this in response to trying out yoga.  “Sure you can," I say with a big smile: “just bend your knees... and a lot!” 

I am serious about that,  for real~ I have everyone bend their knees in a forward fold.

The purpose of yoga isn’t to be able to touch your toes nor is that a prerequisite for trying out a yoga class or considering yourself as “someone who can do yoga.” 

 Rather, its about showing up and doing what you can do.

It is important to choose a class that fits what you're looking for too: such as an all levels class (includes beginners as well as intermediate), or a gentle beginner's class to assist you in getting introduced to the practice of yoga. There are many variations and styles out there (including instructors) to choose from in order to find the right fit for you. Be willing to try something new and unexpected: I have many who say they don't like the heat and won't come to a hot yoga class. I say, "give it try, you may hate it or you might love it, see what happens."  There have been many surprised that they love heated yoga despite what they thought.

There are many in the mindset that yoga is unavailable to them because they do not feel they are flexible enough, a tracking point being that are unable to touch their toes.

You do not have to be flexible in order to do yoga!

“ACK! “ and they don’t come and they have no idea they are missing out on the potential deliciousness yoga has to offer!

Yoga has so much more to do with meeting your body wherever it is in its realm of physical fitness and flexibility or lack there of! 

Moving your body, opening your heart up, expanding your perspective is vital for a healthy vibrant life, AND yoga can assist you in all that.

When we feel good in our bodies, we are strong, confident, balanced and happy.

To feel good in your body and recognize where you may not feel so good is all part of the practice. Some days we feel like a rockstar on our mats and our bodies flow with strength, ease and freedom and other days we just aren't feeling so stellar and our bodies move like lead, we struggle through the poses and perhaps we want to F'in curse and cry ~or both. It's the same experience off our mats.

AND that’s ok! This is all part of the experience in yoga and in life. RIGHT?!

The challenge is to make it what you want it to be, for you have the power to create your experience by simply shifting how you think about it.

More often than not (99% of the time?) we cannot control our circumstances of life around us. We can, however, control our responses to circumstances of life and even that is a challenge and requires practice. So it's important to remember that you have the ability to BEGIN AGAIN, to re-create yourself anew at any moment.

A good place to begin is on your mat. Practice accepting yourself as you move through the asanas (yoga postures), Especially if you are brand new to a class. It takes time to figure out what “Utanasa” is (if your instructor is throwing out sanskrit) or common names like“downward facing dog” and to experience it in your body. It's like anything else in life, the more you practice, the more familiar and confident you feel.

 Do not judge yourself, criticize yourself and for sure practice letting go of comparing yourself to others. Comparison is “the thief of joy” and you don’t need to make yourself feel like crap especially when you have already hurdled the fears and excuses in order to be able to show up on your mat.

You already are victorious~Because you showed up on your mat and that takes courage!

So go for it and revel in the fact that you cannot touch your toes and instead be curious about the practice , how it feels in your body, what you can experience in each moment and release any expectations. You are not there on your mat to prove anything to anyone, but simply to be in your body, finding self-expression and breathing. It's that simple.

Your yoga practice is about your own awareness into your self, you own growth and transformation. Be open to the experience of yoga through being present and the idea that: anything is possible.

When you commit to your yoga practice and persevere, who knows someday you may be able to touch your toes (wink).