Thursday, 30 May 2013

What will you choose?

After a week of yoga retreat bliss in Southwest Colorado, I was thrilled to be back in the arms of my husband and 4 year old daughter. I left Colorado feeling grounded and refreshed, after an incredible time full of meditation, yoga, fresh wholesome food, connecting with incredible woman and soaking up the natural surroundings.

I knew coming home that the transition from retreat to daily grind would be rocky, we even laughed about it as the group went separate ways, "Good luck everyone!!!" we exchanged with a chuckle and a hug. Well, as you can assume, it's been just that........a revealing week.

Before leaving on retreat, my car was acting up, so my husband decided that he would get maintanence done on it while I'm away. Love my man! So he got a tune up, and 4 brand new tires installed in my car. I was very grateful and he was thrilled that I had a safe ride.

On Monday when I was driving to Vancouver for my first day leading a new Yoga teacher training group, 2 out of those 4 new tires burst, leaving huge gapping holes in the rubber and me stranded on the side of the highway.

My immediate response was panic and worry. "Oh no, what do I do now?"

After I investigated the situation, reflected on my choices, and made the appropriate phone calls (roadside assistance & the school I was to teach at that Am) I sat back and thought, the power in this moment lies in my ability to respond with love and understanding versus react from fear and anger. Life sent me a curve ball and it was asking me, how will you show up in this moment? What has your yoga taught you? what choices do you have?

I knew there was nothing physically that I could do to change the situation, so sitting in my car angry and agitated wouldn't serve me at all. The school was understanding and even had a good laugh about it. Life around me was going on, so why not embrace the opportunity to practice what I preach.

So I watched the cars pass by, noticing how unique some are. I observed beautiful bald eagles soaring above the chaotic traffic with grace and curiousity. I closed my eyes and felt the depth of my breath and the fatigue of my early morning body. I remembered that even admidst contracted moment, there's an ever expanding light. And the choice to linger in either was totally up to me.

2 1/2 hours later I got towed back home and by the end of the evening I had 4 new tires put on my car. The YTT school and students were understanding and empathetic and life begin again the following day.

What sticks with me now is a reminder that even when things feel like they are out of my control, I still have choices. That if I choose to step back, take a deep breath (or 5) and consider what choices I have in this moment? and how do I want to respond, than the out of control feelings subside and I'm empowered once again.

May we all recognize the power we have in each moment and choose to trust the flow of life.

From my heart to yours,

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Deep Breath Birthdays

This weeks blog comes from my very good friend's beautiful daughter. I couldn't have said it better. This girl is amazing.

Hi. I'm turning 10 on Saturday the 25th. I am excited to have many more happy healthy years ahead of me. Yoga is quite relaxing. I have used it many times to calm down and with all this birthday stuff I am sure I will have to use the downward dog again. If I can use a routine so can you. Try a simple routine at home when you are angry and it sure does help. It will be a fun time at my birthday but I am sure to take a moment and just take a deep breath.

Dream big,

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Address the stress!

I seem to continuously have the same conversation with my students on a regular basis and it revolves around Stress. So I feel like it's appropriate to bring it up here.

If we understand that stress is inevitable in our lives (which it is), than the big question we need to ask ourselves is, "What are you doing to manage your stress?"

Stress shows up in our lives for many different reasons like financial stress, grieving over a loss (death, job, house etc..), choatic work schedule, unhealthy relationships, or an illness or injury. It also affects our body, mind and emotions. Most common symptoms when under stress are, raised blood pressure, increase heart rate, head ache, insomnia or chronic fatigue, digestive issues, nervousness, anxiety, lack of motivation or interest in activities you used to enjoy, to name a few.

Now what you might not know is that not all stress is bad. We need stress to help us get out of bed in the morning, to be productive and do the things we need to do to put food in our fridge and a roof over our heads. Stress also helps us react in a dangerous situation, like when the car in front of you slams on their breaks or you come across a rattlesnake when walking the golf course. 

Doctors call this Acute stress. "Acute stress is the type of stress you experience when you have an immediate reaction to something you're presented with". Alan Henry

Acute stress is usually manageable and goes away once the situation has been resolved. The issue of most concern is when stress become Chronic. Chronic stress occurs when the stressor is unresolved. This is most common in situations, for example when you are in an unhappy relationship and it's affecting all aspects of your life. Another example would be that you dislike your job, or you're living pay check to pay check and you can't seem to get ahead. There are many different scenarios or complicated situations that arise when under this kind of chronic stress. 

The important part and generally speaking "first step" is to recognize what type of stress you're under and then be proactive with the steps you take to "de-stress". The antecdote to stress is REST.

Power of the BREATH
One of my favorite ways to de-stress is with deep breathing. Your parasympathetic nervous system (the system that helps you de-stress) is connected to your exhale breath. So when you're stressed if you commit to take a 10 second breath break and inhale to the count of 4 and exhale to the count of 6, you'll notice a significant reduction in your stress levels. If you can do this longer and daily you'll experience even more benefits.

Joyful Movement
For some people, movement is the best way to release stress. Heard people say "Shake it off". When you move your body, especially when doing an activity you enjoy, like Zumba or running or Yoga (of course). The body releases endorphins and seratonin when excerising, two hormones that increase your mood, assist with sleep and can block feelings of pain. 

We sometimes assume that relaxation is a simple task (in a way it is), something that we all know how to do, yet in my experience (guiding people through relaxation) this is not the case. Most people that I come across find relaxation challenging. They are unaware of how to do it and sometimes underestimate the power of it. My absolute favorite way to relax is with restorative yoga or yoga nidra (which means yoga sleep). So don't underestimate the power of your Shavasana (corpse pose). Give deep relaxation a try with THIS CLASS on from the amazing Tianne Bernard.

There's no exact equation to eliminate stress. However there's a right equation for YOU. It's just a matter of acknowledging the stress you are under and recognizing the choices you have in managing it. So for the sake our of health, our well being and overall happiness, may we continue to explore and discover ways in which we can de-stress.

With you on this path,

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Track and Yoga

I recently went to the biggest kids outdoor yoga event I have ever been to. There were kids from grade two to grade seven and from all the schools in our district. There was stretching, balancing, vinyasa, encouragement from peers, dedication, determination, concentration and self motivation. As I watched these kids, I got goosebumps I was so inspired by them.

I was at a track meet.

It was so amazing watching as kids stood on the side of the track screaming at the top of their lungs as they cheered on their team, watching the kids as they waited for their turn, as they stretched and then turned their focus inwards, they got clear and focused. And then watching every single one of them regardless of how they placed beam as they accepted their ribbon at the end. Feeling proud of doing their best and going for it. I watched a child that ran an awesome sprint and right after bolted to his Mom as his friends congratulated him. He placed 8th out of 8. But as it should be in life, the number didn't matter. 

The lesson I took away from this awesome yoga/track meet was.

Whatever you do, do what you love. Do it well and with your whole heart. Enjoy the uphill as much as the downhill, the run as much as the finish line and always, no matter what, cheer each other on from the sidelines.

With Gratitude,