Yoga is an opportunity for self-reflection. Self-reflection means purposefully paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, decisions, and behaviors. It enables us to make meaning of all of the great and not so great experiences we’ve had in our lives.
Just like a yoga pose, self-reflection is challenging and requires us to be open and honest with ourselves.
When we, as yogis, are unwilling to self-reflect, we project. We project those things that we are reluctant to turn inward, sit with, and change.
Change Is Hard
Change is hard but change is a necessary and pivotal part of life. When I think about all the different ways to discuss or even label change, several ideas come to mind: growth, transformation, letting go, and acceptance. All of these things require us to go within ourselves and do some sort of work–some kind of self-reflection. You can’t grow from your experiences if you don’t understand them. Once you understand the why behind your decision-making, you can make changes based on what you’ve learned.
I spent a big part of my life projecting so that I wouldn’t have to deal with my core issues. Everything was everyone else’s fault. Everything that was happening to me, around me, and within me, was always the result of someone else–at least in my mind. It was a defense mechanism to protect and preserve the only thing I knew and the only thought process and outlook that I was comfortable with accepting.
How Yoga Forced Me to Dig Deep
When yoga came into my life, it was both liberating and frustrating. Yoga gave me the freedom to feel but it also forced me to see myself for who I was. I had to look at what I was doing instead of pushing the blame onto others. I had to take a real look at myself and the real reasons behind my actions.
I say to my students each day that yoga is a mirror reflection for our everyday life and that reflection is available for us to see when we finally decide to see it. I will be the first to attest that the reflection will not always be quaint and pretty. It will most likely be uncomfortable and even sad at times. However, that is how growth happens.
Growth happens when we let go of our expectations on people, situations, and life. Letting go of our expectations does not mean that we no longer hope or desire anything from life anymore. Rather, it means that we come at our life (our mat) in a way that opens the doors rather than lingering in the doorway, just waiting for it to close or prove others are wrong.
Merriam-Webster defines compost as “a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter.” Compost is used for fertilizing and conditioning land. Your compost is a mixture of your stuff, your baggage, your mindsets, your hang-ups, your habits, and your ego. When you practice self-reflection, you take your compost and use it to fertilize your life and the conditions of others. You take the mixture of your life, your actions, and your situation, and you compost it.
My yoga practice has taught me a lot about my compost and digging dip into my own “mixture.” It has allowed me to get real with myself. Moreover, once you are genuinely able to see the mess you are in, only then can you begin to transform.
When things don’t go my way or are not to my liking, I first ask–Why? I then take a step back to reflect so that I can see how much of my compost is altering my experience. Coming from a place where I took everything personal in my life, once I realized how my compost was affecting what I was doing, I was better equipped to let others off the hook for my shortcomings. Seldom is it ever really about others but rather how we received those experiences and how they reflect upon us.
Don’t Give Up
I urge you to keep coming to your mat, keep getting uncomfortable, and keep taking classes and stepping into poses that ruffle your feathers. Resist the urge to roll up your mat those five minutes early in the hopes of avoiding discomfort. Instead, sit in those poses as your mind stews–allowing your mind to sift through your thoughts, emotions, and reactions to truly get to the bottom of why you feel the way you do.
From my heart to yours, from my soul to yours, from my compost to yours, and from my mat to yours, Namaste.
Have you ever been told to “take a deep breath” when something in your life has caused you to feel frustrated or overwhelmed? Chances are, you have. If you haven’t, you’ve definitely given this advice to someone else at some point or another. But why?
Stress in Life
With the ever-increasing demands and challenges in our daily lives, it’s easy to see why many of us suffer from high levels of stress. Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, releasing hormones in the body that spark the “fight or flight” response. This response triggers the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or flee to a safer place.
To deal with the stressors in our daily lives, many of us turn to things such as alcohol, food, exercise, or television shows to distract us. Why? Well, the answer is pretty simple–we don’t seem to have the proper tools or knowledge to be able to manage stress more effectively. And because breathing happens naturally, many of us don’t give the concept of breathing much attention.
However, breathing slowly and deeply can create a relaxation response within the body. Breathing exercises bring life back into your thirsty body, mind, and soul. It cleanses you, relaxes you, and it makes you whole.
What is F.O.R. Peace Breathing?
Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing was introduced to me when I first started on my yoga journey. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t complicated, and it didn’t require any equipment. All it needed was you and your willingness to step back and breathe.
When you stop and take a breath in a stressful situation, you stop the hormones released by the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and start to live again. It is a simple tool that you can use every single day to prevent and release stress when it starts to bubble up.
Steps of F.O.R. Peace Breathing
Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing un-complicates what our minds often make complicated. It makes you STOP and use the tool you were born with to deal with stress in your life.
What Does “F.O.R.” in Peace Breathing Stand For?
Focus on one, long, deep breath. Inhale deeply, feeling your diaphragm and belly expand (not your chest). Exhale through your nose or mouth for the same count, or longer. Be fully conscious of this breath.
Observe your mind. Does it wander during this breath? Where does it go? Can you try again to be right here, right now?
Refocus if you need to. Bring your mind back to your breath. If your mind wanders, return to one deep breath.
The next time that you are feeling stressed, uncertain, foggy minded, and in desperate need of relaxation, Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing and take a breath. You will be thankful you did!
Today, I will Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing and enjoy the power of my breath. I encourage you to join me, friends. What can it hurt?
If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy the power of your breath, check out these resources:
Meditations for Stress Relief
5 Simple Solutions When Life Feels Like A Mess
We understand that during this time there are a lot of unknowns. What exactly COVID-19 will do and how things will play out is still a big unknown!
And we deeply appreciate each and every one of you. Everyone is being affected by the current state of our country and world. From family life, to work life and it’s times like these that we often throw self-care practices out the window.
It may seem silly but, during this time, I want to suggest we stop and reflect on how we can be a part of the problem or a part of the solution.
Together let’s be a part of the solution!
With the outbreak of COVID-19 impacting our state and local community, we are focusing on doing things we need to do to keep you, our community, our staff, and our facility as safe and as healthy as possible.
For many yoga studios, they are facing challenges with running classes and keep things clean and hoping those who are sick do not come to class. To all those who attend group activities please use common sense when engaging in public activities.
So let’s take this time to make sure we are practicing good hygiene and supporting others to stay healthy!
Here are the current guidelines and announcements from federal, state and local agencies, including the CDC and other health organizations: HERE
Consider the following when out on the road, in the efforts to stay healthy and help others do the same:
1> If you are feeling healthy, keep moving. Keep walking, keep exercising. A healthy body and mind can reduce stress and boost your immune system.
2> Support each other in cultivating a gratitude practice. Dr. Joe Dispenza conducted a study that found: Practicing gratitude for 9-10 minutes, 3 times per day, for 4 consecutive days increases the function of your immune system.
3> Get some quality sleep. Check out our guided meditations to help you get some much-needed shut-eye! Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Research has shown that T-cell production increases with consistent good rest and sleep. Naps are GREAT!
4> Consider how you can support the health and comfort of your neighbors and friends. Check up on anyone you know that may have compromised health. Stay connected via phone, text, and email.
5> Be mindful of the source of information. Be thoughtful before sharing or posting. Question information that might be untrue or cause concern.
6> If you have a compromised respiratory system, immune system, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and/or diabetes, stay safe and stay home.
7> If you show any signs of illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath), Contact your health care provider and use common sense. It may not seem like a “big deal” but others may not have as strong of immunity as you do. Consider others and their health as well as your own during this time. It is difficult to discern the difference between Coronavirus, Influenza, the common cold, and allergies.
8> Minimize exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) by following the hand hygiene guidelines – washing your hands with soap and water while you sing the ABCs and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor.
DIY Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer: Fight COVID-19:
>>1 Tablespoon aloe vera spray or gel
>1 Tablespoon alcohol-free wich hazel (you can find this at the dollar store, Walmart, CVS)
>1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E Oil (if you can’t find it, don’t stress, you can go without)
>10-20 drops essential oil blends like Young Living Thieves or Doterra On Guard, or DIY your own blend using: cinnamon, myrtle, tea tree, lavender, rosemary. Use what you can find!
It’s important to choose essential oils that are anti-bacterial like the ones listed above. The use of alcohol continuously on your skin can really dry out your skin. By combining aloe vera gel or spray into your mixtures you can nourish your skin as well. I prefer the spray as it’s not so clumpy and easier to mix.
Practice good social etiquette: wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your arm, and use paper towels when opening doors. Or at a minimum just we aware that the germs we spread not everyone’s immune system can withstand.
I am reminded during this time how we get what we give. So during this time give patience. Give kindness. And give good hygiene. You may never get COVID-19, but let’s make sure you don’t make it more difficult for others.
No matter what your personal stands is on our countries current state. One thing is clear, we must show kindness, and remember that although we may be healthy and never get sick or test positive for the Corona Virus, that doesn’t mean we won’t negatively impact another with our choices.
As someone who has an Uncle with cancer, a cousin who today is going in for heart surgery, and friends and family members with compromised immune systems prior to the Corona Virus. I ask you to do your part and ask yourself do I need to go out? Is telling the world I think this is silly on social media helping or hurting? And how can I support others?
Sometimes supporting others is by the following suit and washing your hands and reducing unnecessary trips to the store. And finding ways to support others in new ways. Think of all of this as a means to expand yourself in ways you otherwise wouldn’t.
Now make some DIY hand sanitizer and go wash your hands.
Want to read more?
Check out Hope’s recent blogs:
And we always appreciate it when you LIKE and SHARE our content. It helps us reach more people just like you. During this uncertain time, keep your mind focused and full of positivity, read from accurate sources, and be kind!
It’s people like you that make this world a better place! Keep being you. Keep being amazing. And keep sharing the gratitude and sweetness!
>>>>>An Attitude of Gratitude and Meditations to go with it!
>>>>>Simple Solutions When Life Feels Like a Mess
And remember no matter what, “Girl, Wash Your Hands!”
In honor of washing your hands. Order one of our GIRL, WASH YOUR HANDS TEE’S and we will donate $1 to Project HOPE to aid those who are truly affected by COVID-19.
>>> ORDER YOUR TEE HERE <<<
We have all heard this before: “An attitude of gratitude”. But in the midst of what can feel like uncertainty, it is vital. Let me say that again… it is VITAL that we keep our minds right. Drenching our minds in the news and social media is not going to make things better. But making sure we practice self-care, keep our minds clear and continue to stay calm is something I urge everyone to do.
I went to bed last night thinking a lot about our countries current situation, my life, and what I can do for my family right now and all of you.
Each night my family (my husband and our three kids) and I all pray together and after we all go around and say who or what we want to pray for tonight.
And as we went around I was reminded to not forget the little things. It made me think about how we all can still be grateful for the little things, and remember how we can impact our communities despite such circumstances.
My prayer is for you all to consider a local business to pick up food to go, or inquire about delivery, shipping gifts to that friend or family member or just letting the world know what they are doing as they struggle to remain open, or if they have already made the decision to close.
During this time, I urge you to continue to practice gratitude. To continue to go beyond and help another, even if it means having to take an extra step or two to do that.
Yesterday I made an egg and book delivery (yes I have chickens) to our amazing local cafe Perc Place and I usually just drop and go when delivering eggs or books. But I decided to grab a drink to go and support them.
Perc Place is my office away from my home office and I can’t imagine not having them in my backyard to go to for inspiration. As I stood there in the cafe all I felt was gratitude for the owner and all her staff during this time. So many unknowns, and it’s easy to think “one small act WON’T make a difference”. But, when 10, 25, 100 people all do the same thing. It all adds up. Gratitude adds up!
In order to stay mentally and physically strong in the midst of this unprecedented time. I urge you all to continue to engage in things, activities and with people who lift you up. Help you feel good. And keep you in the right frame of mind. This is VITAL!
What can you do to stay in gratitude each day?
- Go for a walk with your family and talk about positive things
- Get enough sleep
- Drink plenty of water
- Dance in the sunlight
- Write down what you are grateful for each morning
- Listen to meditations or positive recordings/books
Let’s maintain that positive attitude that helps others when we come into contact with them…even if it’s virtually.
I always ask myself “am I a part of the problem or a part of the solution?”
Let’s write out our ideas to make us and our businesses better.
Write out plans and goals that you will do during this pause in life, and what you’re doing afterward.
Then get out any anxiety that may be clouding our heads and hearts out and into the daylight by writing it down. When we write it down, it isn’t as scary.
Then once you write it down… Take action! Get on your yoga mat! Go for a walk! Read, meditate.
You know what?
These can be scary times, but we are so resilient. I’m encouraged by all of the good I see in the world, and how many people are working to help others.
Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers) said in times of crisis, look for the helpers.
I say WE are the helpers.
Let’s keep getting up and taking that time for ourselves each day to better help where we are able.
And to HELP…. I am giving all of my meditations away for $1.
Why a dollar?
Well, I believe that everything is an exchange.
And my heart and soul are in those offerings and I ask that you simply be a part of the exchange back. 🙂 [And these were all professionally recorded just for you.]
>>>>> MEDITATION BUNDLE OF 6 FOR JUST A $1 <<<<<
I believe that we are the ones most responsible for our own health and well-being. It is our privilege that we practice self-care and engage in the right things. And the results will always be better than if we did not.
So remember what you do have control over. Remember how you can impact those around you, by first you being calm, centered, and full of gratitude.
Stress. Stress can be overwhelming and even debilitating. It can cause headaches, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and negatively affect our immune system. Obviously, we all know that stress isn’t good for us physically or mentally. However, how do we keep stress from manifesting itself into our daily lives?
Life Is About Choices
The great American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote a letter to his daughter who was worried over a mistake she’d made. This is what it said:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders, losses, and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Emerson’s quote serves as a reminder to us that we must give ourselves permission to make a few mistakes, be imperfect, and “fall off of the wagon” from time to time. Accept what you were able to accomplish and leave yesterday in the past. Do not let stress and mishaps prevent you from moving forward.
In an article that appeared in Medical News Today, discusses how “Stress, in everyday terms, is a feeling that people have when they are overloaded and struggling to cope with demands. These demands can be related to finances, work, relationships, and other situations, but anything that poses a real or perceived challenge or threat to a person’s well-being can cause stress.”
You may not always be able to control what happens in your daily life, but you can practice healthy habits to manage stress.
17 Ways You To Mindfully Reduce Stress in Your Life
- Go to bed on time. What does that look like? I can imagine watching T.V. until nearly midnight is not what we had in mind.
- Get up a few minute earlier than planned and take some time to be silent, meditate and visualize how your day is going to be great.
- Learn to say “no”. Say no to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule, your vision, or may compromise your mental and emotional health.
- Allow others to help you. If they did’t want to help, they shouldn’t have asked. And that my friend is not your concern.
- Allow extra time. Cutting it close or under budgeting time because you think that will make others happy will eventually backfire. Consider allowing more time and getting there or done early. Now that is a bonus!
- Have a back up. Have a back up plan, a back up car key, a back up babysitter, a back up ride home. Anything. We think that takes too much time to prepare. But imagine how long it takes to find something that was never planned for?
- K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble, concern and pain. Ask yourself: “is what I am about to say helping or hurting”? And go from there.
- Eat right. Start with one right choice. An apple. A glass of water. No need to bulldoze your life today. Just add in one new food or simply drink more water and see where it takes you.
- Listen to relaxing music, or guided meditations. Choose uplifting or motivating broadcasts or shows. Stay away from music, broadcasts and entertainment that only causes more pain, confusion, agitation, and anger. You can choose what you listen to.
- Laugh. Every single day. Laugh. Laugh so hard you cry. And better yet, laugh with a friend. Laughter releases endorphins that you desperately need to stay happy.
- Keep a gratitude journal. When is the last time you really stopped and reflected on all you have to be grateful for. The news and social media do a good job of showing us where we are imperfect and lacking. Remind yourself you have so much to be grateful for.
- Surround yourself with people who lift you up rather than tear you down.
- Take ONE DEEP BREATH before you say or do anything more.
- Be kind to unkind people. Kindness matters. Being kind doesn’t mean you agree with them, or even want to be their best friend. But if you won’t be kind, then who will be?
- Slow down. Most of us are all in overdrive in multiple areas of our lives. What’s the hurry? What if you will get there at the exact right time, every time?
- Live within your budget. It’s not something we all want to hear. And there are times in life you need to take a leap. But when is the last time you wrote down all your expenses and asked yourself “is this necessary? what value does this bring to my life”? Hard truth, most of it is unconscious spending and as a result we are unable to afford the essentials.
- Meditate, pray, practice yoga. You don’t have to do them all. But when is the last time you unplugged with something that will plug you back in?
Finding the best mindful stress relief strategies may take some time. Don’t give up if one doesn’t work; Simply move on and try another. However, it’s important to keep looking for the tools that will help you manage life’s ups and downs in a healthy way. Keeping stress at a manageable level is important for your overall well-being.
Surround yourself with people that support you in your journe and leave those that don’t, behind. You won’t regret it.
I never thought that yoga would become such a huge part of my life. To be honest, I didn’t even know what yoga was until a co-worker said to me one day, “You look like someone who would practice yoga.” Hmmmm…thanks? I guess?
You know, those moments in life that just hit you like a ton of bricks? Well, at 17 years old, that is exactly what that moment did to me.
I truly believe that life has a way of nudging you in the right direction. Of course, it’s up to us if we decide to follow that nudge or not, but, nonetheless, it’s there.
Destined To Do Big Things
I’ve never shared this before but when I growing up, I always knew that I was meant for more. As a child, you could usually find me tucked away, inside of my closet, stapling papers together to create books. Not books to share, but books that I planned to store away with the intent to be found by someone one day when I was gone. That someone who would say, “Wow, this is amazing.” Okay, looking back–maybe that was a little weird BUT the point is–I always knew that I was going to do big things. I knew I was going to be known for something more.
Then came yoga. Practicing yoga was a saving grace to me. It was my lifeline. Every Wednesday night, it gave me hope that I could do it. It showed me I was strong. It showed me what I was capable of. It showed me that I was meant for more.
Yoga changed my life.
Then, randomly one day, my yoga teacher casually suggested to me that I consider teaching yoga. Funny how life works, right?
Yoga Was My Nudge
My first search–“How to become a yoga teacher”–landed me on an ashram in Rollingsville, Colorado. Don’t ask me how or why, but I just knew that this was the place for me. Without hesitation, I signed up, gave them my money, and booked my tickets. However, it wasn’t all quite that simple. The catch–I had finals during my month stay in Colorado. I know what you are thinking– “Ok, Hope, that’s not that big of a deal.”
Here is the thing– I went to a Catholic university and I was off to an ashram to learn how to teach yoga SO it was sort of a BIG deal. The two couldn’t be more different. That next week, relying on my faith and a prayer, I asked my professors if they would consider letting me take my finals early. They all said yes. My stars were aligning.
My Yoga Teaching Journey
There was no hiding it–I was scared. I was still struggling with an eating disorder and there appeared to be no real hope or end in sight. I wanted to stop. I desperately wanted to be able to live a normal life. But I knew I still had a long way to go.
I still remember my first day in our yoga teacher training at the ashram. Eleven of us sitting in a circle and everyone was at least 15 years older than me. I was determined to step aside from my fears and make the most out of this month-long stay–all 98 pounds of me. I was praying to God this would heal me. This 30-day stay would be just what I needed to clear my head and conquer my addiction–for good.
That afternoon, sitting in a circle on the freshly carpeted floor, I knew this was where I belonged. That day I heard a voice inside my head and it told me eleven things I would do going forward from that day. These were things that I never thought I would do. They were things that were never in my scope of dreams. However, to be honest, struggling with an eating disorder, depression, and a laundry list of other issues–survival was the only thing I could focus on. But I pulled out my yellow legal pad and printed out one goal on each line. I tore off the sheet and folded it up. I was on my way.
My article on Mind Body Green highlights what I believe are the 7 Secrets of Becoming a Successful Yoga Teacher.
My Yoga Training Forever Changed the Course of My Life
My yoga training gave me hope that all the prayers that I had said and all the things that I had been through would not be a waste.
That yoga training was hard. It rocked me to my core. It challenged on what I thought about life, movement, and myself. It challenged my faith to go deeper into myself and see wh at and how I really connected to God.
I believe we all need those moments in life in order to truly get to the bottom of who we are. We are all here on this earth for a purpose and it is us who gets in our own way and downplays our potential for greatness.
My yoga training taught me that we are all worth it.
You Are Worth It
For you, it may not be enrolling in a yoga training class. (If it is, please reach out to me if you have questions. I would be happy to help you find the right fit!) Whatever it is, remember–you are worth it. You are better after it and there are never any mistakes in life. Just opportunities. Opportunities to learn and soak up all that is waiting to be had.
Picture a day when you are no longer struggling to get out of the gutter. Instead, you are leading others from it.
A day when you are no longer asking for forgiveness, but receiving gratitude from those around you.
A day when you are not searching for the next best thing. Instead, you find yourself attracting what you desire all the time.
Picture a day when all you have been through was absolutely worth it.
Today is that day. You owe it to yourself.