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Emotional Wellbeing, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Meditation, Mindset, Nature, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wellness, Wisdom

Tearful Yoga

The room was completely dark except for the illuminated “Exit” sign.  As I lay on the floor in a supine position, sweat streamed down the side of my face, arms and legs. Toxins and stress drained from every pore.  It had been fifty-eight minutes of the most strenuous stretching, balancing, and hard-core strength exercises a body can tolerate, but as I lay in my own pool of sweat, I felt elated.  Yep.  Elated.

The instructor, Michael, taught an intense power yoga class which included traditional yoga postures combined with a series of faster paced moves which called for a bit of mental gymnastics.  When a difficult pose ended, another began. There was very little rest. When we were instructed to hold a challenging balance that required muscular strength and stretching limbs and torsos beyond what was once imaginable, my mind played its usual tricks:  leave now and go get a cappuccino…why are you working so hard on a Sunday when you could have slept in and read the paper….there’s a woman at least ten years older than you bending like a pretzel…..c’mon…you can do this, etc…

At times, there was no music, just the sound of the instructor’s voice encouraging us to go deeper into the pose, or take just another “sip” of breath. Serious and seasoned yogis use a diaphragmatic breathing technique that’s supposed to bring attention back to one’s breath, maintaining calm and focus amidst chaos. The mind continually races, however, with thoughts of “I should have worn the black tank top….what am I having for lunch….to…I bet I’ll lose three pounds of sweat from this class…”

While there are many different kinds of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, power, gentle, and everything in between, yoga has evolved from thousands of years ago. Today, yoga is a culture of its own. There are people who do (it) and people who don’t.  You either fall into one category or the other.  There’s little flexibility because many gurus are so serious about their craft. Although I’ve been in the fitness industry for more than thirty-five years as a choreographer, program developer and instructor, I often feel as though I’m out of my league when I attend a yoga class.  It’s a feeling akin to sports fanatics.  You either like to watch games or you don’t.

The yoga culture extends to manners and clothing, as well.  Be prepared to speak in a whispered voice and be cognizant of your space when entering a yoga studio. Smiles are given freely and often, except when walking on someone else’s mat or (gasp!) when a cell phone buzzes. Anger is simply not welcome.

Stretch pants previously reserved for the gym and only the gym are now seen on both hockey moms and dads in and out of yoga studios and worn as a statement; “I can do the splits and I eat kale.”

The lights dimmed with just a hint of radiance from the gorgeous chandelier above me and the music became so loud I couldn’t hear myself or the person inches away from me breathe, or fart, although I’m quite certain that happened to at least one of us during the hour.  It felt like a nightclub scene, but without any alcohol or pick-up lines.

The instructor never demonstrated any moves, and as an intermediate yogi, I was unfamiliar with the sanskrit terminology, so I cheated by looking at those nearby including my son, Rocco, who is currently attending yoga teacher training.  Not realizing we would have to remember sequences, I simply played “follow-the-leader” as I mimicked those around me in the shadows of the dimly-lit room.

At the end of the class, when it was so dark I could only see the ‘Exit’ sign, we laid on our sweaty yoga mats, exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was quiet, with only a faint sound of deep, relaxing sighs.

Then, with the first sound of the piano notes, it started.  I felt a tightening in my throat, and heavier, more intense breathing.The music blasted, but this time with a more peaceful, poetic combination of Gaelic, New Age and classical sounds that both calmed and comforted me.  The volume of the music grew along with its intensity to levels that I felt in my bones. Suddenly, a persuasive, emotional wave took over me and within seconds, tears filled my eyes and streamed down my cheeks.

I began to weep.

Salty tears of elation mixed with my hard-earned sweat.

And it felt so good.

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Health, Meditation, Spirituality

Spiritual Adventures, To Be Continued….

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Ok, are you ready for some deep conversation? Recently, my husband and I had those difficult discussions about funeral arrangements and what kind of burial we’d like. Sounds gruesome, I know, but these are real, straightforward talks that need to happen. We’ve all had those thoughts about our own mortality: What if I died tomorrow… Have I done all that I wanted to do? What would I have done differently?

It caused me to reflect on my life and the changes that I have made in the past decades and the legacy I’d like to leave behind. I am definitely not the same person I was twenty or thirty years ago. The struggles and triumphs I’ve endured got me to the place where I am now. By no means, am I perfect. Rather, I am a student of life – constantly learning and soaking up information like a sponge. The older I get, the more time I want to spend grabbing onto knowledge as if it were an outstretched arm from a firefighter as my house was burning. I want to learn all that is humanly possible, while trying to get through an ordinary day of work, paying bills, household chores, taking care of pets and my family.

When I was a teenager, I went to a church with my mother and grandmother that was a nondenominational Christian church. While there were biblical quotes given in every Sunday talk, there was also discussion about a book called “A Course in Miracles”, which is a philosophical interpretation of the Bible.

Hang with me, this is deep talk.  Continue Reading

Health, Meditation, Mindset, Wellness

Be Still

meditation

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.T. S. Eliot

Close your eyes, put your hand on your chest, and feel your heartbeat. Focus on slowing down your breath and relaxing every part of your body, beginning at your head, down through your jaw, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, and toes. Imagine that every cell in your body is operating at its utmost potential. Envision every muscle and bone healthy and strong. Bring your awareness to your breath. Pretend you’re breathing through a straw slowly. Inhale to the count of ten and exhale even more slowly. Try to slow your heartbeat.

Studies show that we can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and diminish anxiety just by being still and calming our bodies and minds. Meditation helps the mind find a happy ground where it’s not working so hard and spinning out of control. It helps control anxious and negative thoughts.

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Meditation

The Mind-Body Connection

meditation

“Before aligning the mind, body and soul … first one has to straighten their mind out.”
― Stephen Richards

Part of being healthy and happy is not only based upon what we eat and how we exercise, but how we think and feel. Scientists are discovering and admitting to the links between how our emotions affect our health. We’ve all heard stories about couples that have been together for a long time and when one of them dies the other soon follows although they had no terminal health problems. Grief can have an astonishing effect on the human body and can cause heart attacks and even stroke.

Meditation, relaxation and finding things to distract you from overwhelmingly negative thoughts have been proven to relieve stress and even pain during difficult times. When my husband, Ted, had both of his knees replaced he was in an incredible amount of agony, even with anesthesia. I tried something with him that I knew that has helped me with debilitating migraines. Don’t expect it to completely take away the pain of a critical injury, like a broken arm, but try this when you’re feeling stressed. It worked for Ted.

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