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Healing

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

Inspiration, Spirituality

What Makes You Sad?

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Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.Khalil Gibran

We all experience some things in life that have brought us to our knees. Whether it’s an illness, death, divorce, loss of a job or financial troubles, our uncontrollable situations can cause us great suffering and grief. At times, we feel sad for no discernable reason. It’s very similar to and often related to negative thoughts. Sadness comes from a lack of meaning and purpose, from a lack of hope, from fear of the future, or worry about loved ones. It’s part of the human condition that we naturally have the ability to feel blissful and melancholy and everything in between. This is a good thing.

My son, Rocco, is intelligent, sensitive, and very spiritual. He studies many different spiritual practices from Christianity to Buddhism. During a phone conversation, he told me that he was sad but okay. Parents worry when their children are unhappy, especially when they live far away. My first reaction was to jump on a plane and make darn sure he really was okay. Rocco was the first person to explain to me—his mother—that being sad is part of life and that it made him appreciate the good times even more. I asked Rocco to recall our conversation and if he would share a few sentences about his interpretation of our discussion. Here’s what he said.

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Health, Inspiration, Nature

The Spirit of the Wild

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The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind. Paracelsus

There is nothing more peaceful than being surrounded by nature and enveloped by its healing power. The sight of colorful birds and trees, the symphonic sound of crickets and birds singing, the gentle kiss of wind on your face, and the smell of freshly cut grass or a fragrant gardenia can be an instant stress reducer.  The Great Outdoors is also a place where we can be alone with our thoughts and feelings.  Have you ever gone for a walk to ‘clear your head’ and suddenly came up with creative thoughts about how to solve a problem or design something new?  Inspiration takes place in many forms and in many places. Being in nature can do more than just enhance our sense of vitality. 

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Health, Pets

The Healing Power of Pets

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“Animals are more complete than people. They are wonderful teachers, therapists and role models for us all.”  

Bernie Siegel

Many people feel that their pets are part of their families. Dogs, cats, birds and even reptiles are included in holiday photos. Some pet owners have astonishingly bequeathed large sums of money to their pet companions in their Will. So why the love and adoration for these friendly companions?

Dogs are commonly referred to as “man’s best friend,” and for good reason. No matter how difficult our day is, no matter what we look like or how we feel, our faithful comrades love us unconditionally. When we are at our worst – feeling sad, sick, unsightly, ill, with bed-head, baggy sweats and no make-up, our cherished pals seem to love us even more.  And the feeling is mutual. 

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