Sunday, February 19, 2017
We are entering spring. There are still reminders of winter. Trees are bare with a promise of new growth. However, the signs of spring are here as well. The temperatures tell us it is time to shed our heavy coats and to let our toes escape heavy shoes. Spring jonquils are blooming. Robins are abundant. It is delightful to drive with the windows open. It is time to Open to this new season. As we enter this new time of year, it gives us the opportunity to release the winter and to see the possibilities of our own inner beauty. We can take the lessons taught by Mother Nature and apply them to ourselves. We can recognize and decide what it is that we want to release and what it is that we want to grow. Like a tree that sheds its leaves in the fall and then reveals new leaves in the spring, we can decide what to shed and what to allow to fall away. We can decide what to grow, to sprout, to blossom from within…a new attitude, a different perspective, or a change in thinking about ourselves or another. Each of us is filled with the true nature of spring with possibilities for the new growth of intentions and new opportunities to enjoy a renewed sense of our spring spirit. Allow yourself to open to your spring spirit each morning as the sun shows itself a little earlier, and each evening as the light stays with us. Open to these new opportunities to see the beauty all around us as well as the exquisite beauty within each of us. Written by: Claire Liddle
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Each one of us, although integrally the same matter that makes up the astounding energy of life, is beautifully unique, outstanding, miraculous. Yet most (if not all) of us have a huge deficit when it comes to self-belief, and when we feel weak, fearful or triggered it comes out like a werewolf bearing sharp teeth and ready to pounce. When we feel good and strong it lingers in the background teasing and threatening us to strip us of our bliss. It tells us we are “disgusting,” “terrible,” “unloveable,” “stupid,” and “insert your word or phrase here”. All the bric-a-brac and outright lies have become ingrained in our collective mind and even become a crutch when we are terrified or angry or hurt. After all, it’s easier to just self-blame than to acknowledge the pain at the source of our negative beliefs about ourselves. So how do we attain unlimited self-affirming moments when we are busy being our own worse enemies? We are all so much more than enough, and thinking otherwise does not need to control us, nor does it need to have a place within our sacred bodies. So for those tough days when we encounter the vicious metaphorical werewolf, below is a little reminder of what we can do to protect our vulnerable and precious spirit. Here are five crucial steps on the path to self-love and that allow the spirit to move away from insecurity, doubt and fear… with the goal to one day eradicate self-hate forever. 1) Honor Community. If we open our eyes wide enough, we’ll see that we are blessed with incredible support and camaraderie everywhere we look. Opening up to the profound truth and love that is humanKIND can ease so much pain, and help dissipate our doubt. It takes a village. 2) Be Grateful. Although being very sick put me face-to-face with my fears and insecurites, it also reminded me how fortunate I am for this beautiful if flawed life. Every day I feel teary-eyed gratitude for the outpouring of love and generosity that blesses me. Having a happy and healthy son is my livelihood that helps me get stronger with every breath. The list goes on and I know yours does too. 3) Breathe deep & Connect to Nature. The breath is not only what sustains and nourishes life, but it is also that which makes each one of us eternal. An effortless inhale glides into a releasing exhale and neither ever really begins or ends. Breath heals our self-doubt by bringing in room for compassion and devotion to self and others. So is nature in it’s vast, limitless essence. The mountain’s crest and valleys boundlessly roam, the horizon beyond the ocean’s waves and its water beneath remind us of our own magnificent souls, those that came before us, and those that will live on long after we cease to breathe. 4) Give Yourself Love & Praises Start reminding your wounded parts just how magically awesome you are, even if you do not believe it yet. When I came home from the hospital, I started a habit of sticking up neon fun-shaped affirmations in my apartment to help me heal. They say things like “I am surrounded with love,” “I am important”, “I am wonderful”, “I am free”. I get to see these wisdoms staring at me every day. Make a point to remind yourself of how special you (and others!) are. Do it as often as possible. 5) Practice: Meditation, Joyful Movement, Yoga Meditation allows us to do less in order to recognize that we are so much more than our limiting beliefs dictate. We hear the dark thoughts and then we allow the breath to shield us. Most meditators find that they end up much more effective at doing good and being content when they learn to UNDO. When we move our bodies through intuitive dance and other joyful movement, we learn to LET GO of our attachment to self-effacement and fear. Yogis practice learning to BE in the poses, to embody a certain effortlessness in the strength and grace of the practice. To create space and eventually let go of the fixation on whether we are indeed “enough”. To breathe through pain and hurt and love and joy without attachment on whether it’s good or bad, right or wrong. To practice non-judgment and ahimsa (non-harm). When we “die” in Savasana, we get a glimpse of a heavenly place ruled by acceptance and peace. I distinctly remember that first time I rolled out my mat after months of being too sick and in pain to practice. As I laboriously flowed through cat-cows and warriors, it was like beginning again with a newfound appreciation of the power of yoga to facilitate letting go and residing in utter beauty. “Atha Yoganushasanam”. Now begins the yoga. We are forever beginning again and yet evolving, making space for what’s new and yet been there all along. What would life be like, how would it feel, to know at a heart and soul level that each one of us is whole and complete? Whether our history has taught us that we are not enough, this is simply untrue. We have and will always be SO MUCH MORE THAN ENOUGH. So let’s start living and speaking this truth. By Jo Ducey
Monday, December 12, 2016
Ch-ch-changes Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes - Turn and face the strange Ch-ch-changes - Just gonna have to be a different man – David Bowie
Sunday, September 11, 2016
I really do teach the 8 Limbs of Yoga For many years I thought I was practicing yoga, when in reality I was practicing Asana, only the physical portion of yoga. I knew nothing about the eight limbs of yoga. Considering there are 8 limbs of yoga, Asana is only 15% of yoga! I have to admit that even after completing my teaching certification and teaching for a while I thought that I was still basically just practicing and teaching Asana, maybe with a little Pranayama thrown in. It wasn't until several years into teaching that I went a little deeper and started a journey of exploration into the 8 limbs of yoga. These eight limbs serve as a guidance system on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life; and give us an outline for moral and ethical conduct, self discipline, and health, as well as helping us connect to, and, acknowledge our spirituality. Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras are: 1. The Yamas Universal Morality. Do onto other as you would have other do onto you. This encompasses your ethical standards and sense of integrity. a) Ahimsa — nonviolence, to do no harm, to practice loving kindness and compassion. b) Satya — being truthful (expressing our uniqueness and authenticity.) c) Asteya — non-stealing d) Brahmacharya — living a life of moderation. Abstaining from over indulgence. e) Aparigraha — non possessiveness, non covetousness, non attachment. 2. The Niyamas Our personal Observances a) Saucha — cleanliness. Defined by some as purification, including your thoughts, actions, relationships, and even your breath. b) Santosha — contentment and gratitude in the things you have, shifting away your focus on what you don’t have. I call this appreciation for life. c) Tapas — Disciplined use of our energy (building strength and character.) Zeal for life. d) Swadhyaya — Self study or learning from our own lives, the continual pursuit of knowledge including yogic philosophy. Also non judgment and acceptance. e) Ishvara Pranidhana — Celebration of Spiritual, believing, asking for guidance, relaxing into your life, and surrendering (maybe to a higher power whatever you believe that to be.) 3. Asanas Our yogic postures what we in the west envision when we think of yoga. Asanas make us feel strong, healthy, balanced, and flexible. Asana actually means comfortable seat and some belief that the ancient yogis developed the postures so they would be flexible enough and their bodies strong enough to sit in meditation for long periods of time. 4. Pranayama —Breath Control. The yoga breathing exercises that help control our mind and our prana (energy). Establishing a connection between the breath, the mind, the body, and emotions. 5. Pratyahara — Control of the senses including detachment from senses and directing our attention inward. 6. Dharana — Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness. Concentration precedes meditation by helping us still the mind and focus on one thing (such as a mantra or intention.) 7. Dhyana — Devotion and meditation. 8. Samadhi — Traditionally described as transcendence or union with the divine, ecstasy or ultimate bliss and joy. Although our spirituality is a big part of this I believe joy is a key word here, yes it can come from our spiritual believes and our connection to the divine, but in a more secular sense our joy can also come from inner peace, freedom, and fulfillment, whatever it's source. When I teach I usually start by asking students to center inward (Pratyahara), to concentrate on their breath (Pranayama) and I suggest an intention or theme for the class (Dharana.) Some times we just sit or lie quietly just centering inward and focusing on our breath (perhaps the beginning of meditation for some.) We usually practice Pranayama in one form or another (such as Udiyana Bandha) and we use Ujayi breath. While practicing Asana, I ask students to honor their bodies and their own limitations (“your body your practice”) so Ahimsa, Satya , Aparigraha, Swadhyaya and perhaps some other Yamas and Niyamas thrown in based on the theme/intention for the day. We end in Savasana (Pratyahara, Dharana if it includes a guided meditation or systematic relaxation, Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender) and hopefully a bit of Samadhi (bliss.) The more I researched, contemplated, learned, and studied, the more I realized that I really was instinctively incorporating the 8 limbs of yoga into my classes and gently guiding my students through all 8 limbs. I hope to continue to share this beautiful guidance system as I progress and deepen my own understanding and practice of yoga. In Gratitude for all my teachers, my students and the practice of yoga, I wish you peace, love, and joy. Namaste Michele
Monday, August 15, 2016
How many times have you started a sentence with “if only”,” I wish” or something similar? The problem doesn’t lie in the fact that we have hopes, dreams or desires, rather it lies in the fact that we think we are incomplete without these material things we long for. How much energy have we wasted thinking the perfect life is out there and it’s not ours? How many times do we relive the past wishing we would have done something different or we think of the perfect thing to say, an hour later of course. How often do we live our lives two weeks into the future or two weeks in the past? How often do we compare what we feel on the inside to what we see on the outside of others? All of this leads us to believe that we are somehow not living that fabulous life, that we fall short of perfection. That somehow everyone else has their act together and we just can’t seem to catch up let alone live that “perfect” life. It causes us misery, feelings of inadequacy, depression, and self-hatred and in some cases, large amounts of debt. How could you possibly measure up to a fantasy? The simple answer is you can’t. The good news is you don’t have to and you can stop right this second. I don’t know if I’ve described anything that you can relate to but that was exactly my story. I used to say I was looking for perfection in an imperfect world. It took me many years to realize that I had it backwards. Everything is already perfect; it was me that was imperfect and in that imperfection is exactly where I found joy. You might wonder what exactly changed. Well I can tell you I still have the same weight to lose, the same amount of money in the bank, the same friends who seemingly have the perfect life. I still have the same imperfect life but I came to realize that none of it mattered anymore. I realized that all the energy I was using living two weeks in the future or past were just making me miss the life I had right here, right now. I could start to enjoy birds singing outside at 6 in the morning instead of getting upset that they woke me up. After all they didn’t know they woke me up and they gave me their song for free. I could see the beauty in nature instead of rushing past worrying about something that might not even happen. I could laugh with a small child; I could sit with an elderly neighbor, I could take the time to be a human being instead of a human doing. I could laugh, love and cry. It was in that being present that I truly discovered all the beauty and joy that I had been rushing by barely noticing. I don’t want to give the impression that everything is all roses. Being present you feel the pain, the anxiety, the discomfort at a seemingly amplified level. The beauty is you feel it in the moment and then the moment passes. You feel it! So often we don’t want to experience pain or discomfort, we don’t want to feel at all so we stuff our emotions until they manifest in anger and we direct it towards some unsuspecting people, places or things (ourselves included). We simply hide from life when we feel it’s less than perfect. It never occurred to me what I was missing, hiding from the less enjoyable aspects of life, what lessons I was refusing to learn. What the pursuit of perfection had robbed from me. How I missed all the beauty that was imperfection. How the pain yields to joy, how the rain yields to sunny skies and how life goes on if you are willing to live it. I hope you have an imperfect life, I hope you find the beauty of imperfection and lastly I want to share a poem by Bob Perks that sums it up perfectly...
Sunday, July 10, 2016
I'm stating for the record, my name is Barbie and I'm a stressed out mother! I love my kids more than anything but sometimes I want to find a nice padded cell for them to bounce around in while mommy takes a nap. Don't get me wrong, I would make it really nice with toys and food, I'm not a monster! They wouldn't need to stay long either, I just want a nice long nap, maybe a bath, possibly a snack, four/five hours, tops. Mommy would be right as rain. I could pretend like I'm joking but as I write this my almost three year old just poured sweet tea all over the rug, so yeah... What I'm getting at is a mom needs a break once in a while, but how can you find the time? My job as a fitness instructor is great because it's a job with stress relievers built in and I don't feel bad about getting a babysitter, because hey a girl's gotta work. Exercise is one of the least utilized, but most effective stress relievers out there, I'm pretty sure some really smart scientist quoted that, but I do know it works for me. I've also made a lot of great friends while teaching and attending classes, being a busy mom that's something that gets difficult as your kids lives take over your own. We need girlfriends they just make life better and loads more fun. So to you busy, stressed out mom, I urge you to find that "me" time. It can be a fitness class, book club, a walk on the beach, or just coffee with a friend. Just take a break, you deserve it and don't feel guilty it will actually make you a better mother and a happier person. No padded cell needed, for you or the kids.