Category Archives: Mindfulness

FOCUS: Find Your 5 Minute Bliss

Where have I been for that last month? Trying to FOCUS!

I feel like I have no time and I even am taking a mini-sabbatical from teaching my evening yoga classes to tie up some loose ends in my personal and work life. I realized there are not enough hours, arms, legs, and me’s to make it through the day. So, I told myself to rest when I can, and FOCUS.

I threw my back out a bit after just getting over a long knee injury. Why is this happening, I ask myself? Well, I am not focused on any one thing. I notice at times I don’t even know what my kids are saying to me. I was way behind on my emails until this evening, behind on certain tasks, so I made my priority list and just started checking it off. My back was telling me to FOCUS.

I have been sleeping too late (7AM) is too late for me, and going to bed a bit too late too. I miss rising early and getting my yoga time, quiet time or meditation time in, and I feel rotten about it. I am achy, tired and short tempered. I need to FOCUS on getting that time back.

It does not take long now for me to switch modes from whiny, cranky, & bitchy, but this last month especially, after being beaten down by two legal issues going on, (small ones to the “system”) but nonetheless, a big deal to myself, family, business and property, I realized my focus was all wrong. I was focusing in on all the “stuff” going on around me that I have minimal control over, putting too much energy into strange human behaviors that again I have no control over, and getting tired of being the victim.

So yet again, take the power back and try to shift gears and FOCUS on what is important. Improving processes, improving my feelings, being grateful for what I do have helps, but when you have so little time to spend with yourself and with your loved ones, you feel that disconnect/hard to plug in feeling. Especially when your career is standing upon energy, creativity, and health and delivering that to your clients. So, I am taking the time to FOCUS on breathing again, and finding space to do so.

My personal spaces, like my office, bedroom, and devotional space are a mess right now. They are being torn apart, and getting ready for a make-over, so that place of decision making is here and I am too tired and not in the right mind set to make those decisions. Instead of getting upset about it, I put that stuff to the side and FOCUS on what needs to be done so I can get there. It does not have to happen all at once that things get done, but it is helpful to make those lists and see where I want to spend my time.

I know this is a short and sweet post, but I wanted to reach out and give you my 5 minute tip list to how I focus in the middle of chaos.

5 Minutes of Bliss

  • get up and move, yoga or walk for 5 mins
  • lay in savasana in the sun if you can for 5 mins
  • breath for 5 mins with your eyes closed
  • boil some water for tea and while you wait do anything on this list
  • walk away from your desk and responsibility for 5 mins
  • joint rotations and a self-neck rub for 5 mins
  • cuddle a fur baby for 5 mins
  • cuddle a kid or partner for 5 mins
  • read an inspirational quote and close your eyes and ponder for 5 mins
  • Just practice 5 mins of positive thinking, the old law of attraction

Lastly, take some non-negotiable time for yourself, like a yoga class, massage, walk in the park, go to dinner, or make dinner with some good music on… whatever you need…it is non-negotiable, tell yourself that when you try to forgo it… Good luck!

Try my blog on Crow pose for ultimate pose focus!

What Should Yoga Look Like? A Contemplation…

What should or does yoga look like?

Well, this is an interesting question I have battled within myself for the last 12 years…

I know that human beings have an intense desire to belong or fit in, which starts with our first 3 chakras:

Our first chakra, known as the root chakra or Muladhara Chakra,  tells us that we belong OR should have a sense of belonging to our tribe: AKA our family, neighborhoods and geographical locations.

Our second chakra, the sacral chakra or Svadistana Chakra says: seek partnerships, and learn how to honor one another!

And finally our third chakra, the Solar Plexus Chakra says: BE AN INDIVIDUAL, HAVE CONFIDENCE, SELF ACCEPTANCE, SELF ESTEEM AND VITALITY! it shouts it at us! You know the old butterfly feeling in your belly? That is all third chakra.

But sometimes we drown out the third chakra and say, NO! It is more important that I fit in and that is where I will find self-acceptance, in the power of the group, or tribe that I belong too….do you remember high school?? Most likely you did foolish things to sacrifice your individuality then.

Well today, that doesn’t work. When we don’t understand personal power, we give it away to the power of the group. Our group could be family, our ethnic tribe of neighbors and friends, it can be our classmates, or for yoga practitioners today, belonging to a certain studio or “type” of yoga.

It is a good feeling to be supported by the group, but it is also a safe feeling that sometimes holds us back from exploring our true nature.

We might get lost in translation and think: I cannot do my yoga practice without my friends, without my studio, without my mat in this exact spot each week, without my sexy yoga cloths, without my favorite yoga mat… Luckily, I never put constraints on my practice in this way, but I have seen it happen to others, especially when they are afraid to leave the studio nest and go exploring what’s out there. My teacher trainees are assigned the “task” of going to other studios and venturing outside the box.

I was always at ease exploring and doing my asana practice at home and trying other studios and so forth, but found not every studio is friendly or ready to open their arms to you. Lack of warmth and acceptance I find is a theme of many studios today. The biggest compliment my students and clients give us at my studio is: I feel like I am at home.

I am not trying to “I” you to death, but to just build bridges in your reasoning to how you choose to make your choices. Apply this to any place in your life and you will see where you are drawn to being in the tribe and being yourself.

This brings me to my whole big contemplation for this entry:

So what, pray tell, is the yoga body supposed to look like then? What do Westerners think yoga looks like?

When I started to discover yoga, the covers of Yoga Journal still had our modern masters gracing the covers, and now there are a few too many dancer/models shining on the glossy cover page at you, shouting: You must look and bend like me! Really they are not saying that, they just get paid to do their job as the cover model, but you make that conclusion whenever you see the media…

Each day, I get several phone calls from people wanting to try yoga for the first time. Many of them when they call tell me how out of shape or in shape they are because they are worried about being able to do it at all, or they don’t want to be put in too easy of a class. I hear fear of a beginner, or I am too beginner. I don’t hear people say, I want to increase the level of my inner understanding….

I hear, “I am very in shape, I exercise regularly, I am not flexible, I am out of shape, I want to lose weight, I go to the gym everyday…” You hear the shame and the pride as people explain who they think they are to me on the phone by how they look physically.  I am not judging them, I am just observing our behavior as a whole, and here is what they are all trying to tell me:

I am afraid YOU will judge me by how I look in a class.

YIKES!

Well with all the spanx, lycra, and leggings this industry has promoted itself to be, I can understand the fashion, body complex. Well, let me correct you all on your observations of yoga, IT AINT ABOUT WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE ON THE OUTSIDE.

Yoga IS what your inner body reflects. The inner body must be toned, purified, and healthy in order to: practice asanas, breath properly, engage in practices of the mind and concentration, and to be able to tune into your inner being to be able to connect to the universe, god, spirit, whatever you want to call it..or for the yogi’s Ishvara Pranidana.

Yes, yoga is about finding a closeness to god!

WHAT??? Religion?

Nope, that is called spirituality my friends. Being at one with each other. Practicing love, compassion, forgiveness, radiance, openness, truthfulness, cleanliness and so forth.

You will find this as the root to many of the yogic scriptures and texts. The next time you walk into a studio, and see women and men in tight clothing, people with socially accepted bodies, people with socially unaccepted bodies, hot studios, cold studios, naked yoga, dog and me yoga, or whatever fad is in that week, let me remind you what yoga IS: a path of dis-joining or letting go of the untrue self to seek only the truth and find the true self or ATMAN.

Didn’t sign up for that? Well, most of us don’t at first. I know when I began I was seeking change, to understand myself more, to understand more about chakras, yoga history, to be able to perform certain asanas, and delve onto a deeper spiritual path. I didn’t know what vinyasa yoga was at the time, only a nice hatha practice with poses like triangle, warriors, baddha konasana and so forth.

I knew I felt great after. I knew I felt things stirring in my 20 year body and under the surface that felt more important than fitting my ass into a pair of tight yoga pants, even though my ego wanted that too because I was being propaganda’d that all the time. I remember a teacher a lot of people respected for many reasons (maybe her knowledge, maybe her body, maybe her ability in asanas) telling me I was fat in her own way once, and I remember thinking I felt sad that she needed so much healing if my weight bothered her…but true yoga helped condition me to not take it personally.

We made it that way. We made it worshipped for the body to look a certain way. So how can I be blown away by such shallow a comment? I wasn’t! People are people, this is their beliefs, but the important thing is, I didn’t believe her!

I don’t do this to fit in, if anything, this industry has set me apart from a lot of people… but that is a part of the practice, the coming apart, and then the coming together.

So where is this conversation with myself coming from?

Mostly the desire to have my body to look a certain way, and it brought my inner working material, also known as my stuff, up. I know it would make my life easier in some regards, to have a more socially accepted body, but that is not a yoga body. There is no such thing. A yoga body is a self-accepted body.

I have come very far in my physical practice, now it is time to come far in my mental practice. It is time for me to: accept the body I have, engage my thought around self-love and acceptance, and to seek the body I want with love and health being the goal…and still do all those bad ass asanas that keep me strong. I am good with that, and real with that.

Joyful January: Really applying what you learned in 2015!

Last year, if you followed my blog, you might have noticed a trend: connecting to good self-awareness, love, self-love, healing, forgiveness, compassion and personal power.

As I turn the page on another year, these things really are in my energy and consciousness all the time, and I am practicing my next step on my yogic journey which is a deeper understanding of inner wisdom.

I really hope to understand how to do the following: communicate my truth without hurting or unkindness, honor myself and my own boundaries, let not taking things personally be taken to a higher level, and to always do my best.

In the background are these powers: it is none of my business what others think of me, patience is my word of the year all across the board including within myself, and to let others own their stuff, and not try to take ownership all the time of what I could have done differently, I do that enough, it is time to rest and just be me for a change.

As for my word of the year: PATIENCE is connected to everything I tried for last year. It is a commitment to change, a more loving and kinder heart, a cleaner mind, and a more peaceful way of living.

Making up a fresh planner, putting up a new calendar and making my new year intentions journal, I realized a big part of that was keeping those around me who love and support me, my health, my business, my lifestyle, and my family a priority. That those who need to fade out or leave the circle can do so with my blessing and my internal understanding that I am whole as a person no matter who surrounds me and they can be too.

I am not in this life just for me and my own needs.

I really believe that we all live on this earth, connected to one another, and to keep my thoughts clear of the mind clutter and thoughts that don’t serve me or them. If unkindness and selfishness is going to be a part of someone’s palette when they think of me, it is none of my business, especially if they do not come forth and speak to me about it.

Venting can be a problem, especially if it is viciously done and not just to organize your thoughts. It is one thing, as sometimes just getting the words out can help, or writing them down, but if you do not speak your truth to those involved, then how will anything change? Snarky, snotty comments only hurt and offend. Anger usually can give way to healing, but only if the pressure of it can subside a little before a conversation has been had. Working through things is just as it sounds, WORK!

Try this as a rule of thumb: if someone were to overhear you vent, or say what you thought of them without them knowing you were around, how would you or they feel about that? Never say anything out loud you don’t intend to have repeated…

I am a better person this year already.

I wake up each day practicing what I think and speak about to my students. I am not just one of the hokey people saying, “Like totally send them love, for sure!” Valley girl style, you know, and we don’t even mean it or do it. That does nothing for me. I do send people that are unkind to me love, and it is real and honest, they need it as does the world. I do talk myself through conversations that are important in my head and on paper before I have them. I don’t speak casually as I used to, to friends, family or students, in a need to check myself on not wasting energy on poorly executed words or stories. I do try to be patient even when I feel my energy is about to lose its hold.

I am not perfect. That was never the goal. The goal is to be a kind, loving, good, impeccable with their word, always doing their best person. But here is the deal. The package that it comes in is me. I am honest, direct, bold at times, guarded at times, sarcastic some of the time, and usually on the side of happy and joyous a lot of the time. That does not make me a bitch, a bad friend, a poor listener, intimidating, or unkind, as I have been told I am and I had started to believe. Those are beliefs that do not honor me.

I understand myself and my goals now.

I know I am a good person, mother, friend, colleague, teacher and as are some of the people who say bad things about others. The thing is, this year, above all, I am OK with me being me. Are you?

Self-Reflection exercise:

What are the things YOU do not like about yourself?
What are the things OTHERS say to you or behind your back that they don’t like that you have come to know about?
Do you want to change those things or part of those things?
ARE YOU OK WITH YOU?
Can you love yourself everyday no matter what?
What is your word of the year?
What can you do or let go of to get yourself aligned and living that word?

Keeping Promises to Yourself

Keeping Promises to Yourself - Self Care, Self Love, Balance

Don Miguel Ruiz says that one of his four agreements is to be impeccable with your word.

I value his pillars for living so much, and this morning I realized I had breached this a bit. Not with others as much as with myself. Each day I wake up hoping to get an early start, have a moment to sit with my thoughts, do my asana or exercise, have a cup of tea with the sunrise, start my day with some juice from our new juicer and so forth… as my list of personal requests builds, so do my excuses

My excuses are real, of course; I need sleep, my little woke in the middle of the night (that’s a big one), I have too much housework to do, got to get the kids ready for their day or our weekend events… but as my tension builds and my patience lessens, I see that I am losing my grip on my yogic lifestyle.

It was an amazing close to the summer. Moving back to my home after a healthy reconciliation with my husband, setting up house, unpacking, travelling for a week to Maine, many birthdays, anniversary and wedding and then 2-3 weeks of us getting colds and sinus issues… here I am a long time between blogs.

Time gets away from us…

I have had a lot to think about. Fall is my deep creative and reflective time. I love to immerse myself in reading, organizing, writing, and holiday preparation. I liven up the yoga shop with new items and freshen up the playlist for my classes. I also like solitude in my yoga room or bathtub to dig into my shadows.

This year was quite a year. Many friends left my circle, many kinds of relationships blossomed or came to an end, and there were a lot of firsts for my toddlers in their learning world. I can say I did take it all in. I needed it. I needed that time to reflect. I always push to get to the next thing. This time, I just enjoyed it. I spent a lot of time with my kids and with myself, making a lot of good habits… that for the last 2 months I breached.

I am ready to get back to it, and dedicate that time to myself again. I dedicate that chunk of time in the morning to myself so I am happier, healthier and more compassionate to myself and others now.

So just today I got up at 4:30am…yes 4:30… I got up, saw the clock, snuggled back in and decided I wanted more me time than sleep. So I took my time.

I made my cup of hot water and lemon, filled my big mason jar with fresh water, checked my emails and put a time limit of 1 hour on that. Once I reached an hour, it was down to my yoga room for some candlelight yoga, a simple 30 minute practice of just what I needed: hips, twists, and an inversion. Back upstairs from some writing and an important call to my mom, and there is was, 2.5 hours to myself. It flew by, but I am feeling so much better already.

I promised myself each morning to have a cup of tea with some reading that will collect dust if I don’t sit down and take a look at it, while my kids eat breakfast or before anyone gets up. That is important to me as fall is so short… so for October I am making my list. It is simple and obtainable.

What will you do?

Are you keeping the promises you made to yourself?

Jenn’s fabulous morning rise routine:

  • Rise at 5:00 am
  • Take my time waking up. 10 minutes for me is a long time
  • 30-60 minutes of yoga or cardio
  • Outdoor meditation as often as weather permits, 15 minutes
  • Hot shower or bath before the kids are up so I can take my time with that ritual in peace and not in a hurry
  • Healthy start to the day with juice, smoothie or whole grain porridge of some kind (will have to make double batches so it’s easy to just grab and not make a sound!)
  • Switch from having hot water and lemon or tea outside or in with a magazine of choice 20 minutes

Daily & Weekly Goals

  • Drink lots of water
  • Exercise daily, even for 15 minutes
  • Get outside as much as possible
  • Reduce sugar when holidays kick in, enjoy nature’s candy of fruit instead
  • Eat less but more flavorful foods, like currys, adding fresh herbs
  • Spend lots of time with the kids and husband
  • Try new recipes!

Tips for you:

Try my recipe for curry
Try my detox soup
Try my neck and shoulder routine!