What does love, or living from the heart, really mean? To me it’s about creating present, meaningful connections. Not just connections to spouses and family members but also friends (human and furry) and anyone else that may cross our path. It also means living from a place that is heart-lead, guiding us to decisions that come from a spirit of kindness, compassion and selflessness. To connect and live from the heart try some of these tips: - Make eye contact and offer a genuine smile when greeting people during the day. - Be a 'present moment' listener. In this time-crunched world we live in, giving someone your undivided time and attention is truly a wonderful gift. - Make connecting with significant others, family and pets a daily priority. After work take at least five-ten minutes to talk, listen, kiss, hug and pet (your dog…or your spouse). - Create time and space for meaningful connections. Avoid time wasters like too much Facebook, twittering, television, texting, etc. - Volunteer every now and then. - Choose a more plant-based diet. - Support local farms that utilize humane practices (if you do eat animal products). - Help a friend with something he/she ‘needs’ to get done, despite what you ‘want’ to get done. - Ask people how they are doing and listen to them first before talking about yourself. - Have a family game night. - Have a date night. There are a multitude of ways to connect. Bring your awareness to ideas and strategies that are meaningful to you, and those around you, and love and live from the heart. By Greg LaBarbera www.ayanayoga.net
When I’m asked how yoga has impacted my parenting, I parse it down to one point, which every other type of work on myself has corroborated for the past 13 years. In every moment, I magnetize my own state. Translated: However I am behaving will be reflected in everyone around me, especially my kid. There are many simple examples of this popular topic. If you’re happy, people smile at you. If you don’t trust yourself, nobody trusts you. If you’re paying attention, people around you pay attention. Every day, whatever apocalypse is happening inside of you will be magnified again and again in the people near you, until you handle it. Whatever you’re feeling, see how it’s returned to you. When I’m paying attention, yoga offers spaciousness to my experience of parenting. Most of the day, I can feel it close by, but I can’t touch it. How ridiculous is it that here I am teaching specifically about spaciousness for more than 13 years and I cannot seem to get past my own animal instinct to doubt and rush and be perfect at the expense of my son’s stability and confidence? So this is what I want to share here. Parents, use your yoga to cultivate your own brand of spaciousness. What does it mean to be spacious (hold space in your own body) and how can we do this through yoga?
The other day, I had a discussion with a friend about the Handel process, a life-coaching program wherein we’ve both learned how to design consequences for our angry outbursts around our kids. While the yoga practice has opened so much for me, the Handel Group’s aim-oriented, personalized action plans were the missing piece. Both my friend and I came from families where rage was present, and coaching helps us define the behaviors, own them and evolve them. What we came to in the conversation was super simple. Your kid, at any moment, is just showing you your own face. That statement stings, and it should. Make more space in yourself and your kid will receive it and reflect it back to you. Paradoxically, this spaciousness is cumulative. When you cease doubting yourself and begin to hold that space for yourself, you are generating an indestructible quality of freedom within yourself that nobody can take from you.
“Asanas (postures) catapult us out of our habitual minds and into the vast space within” – Christina Sell, the upcoming “My Body Is a Temple.”
You’re practicing to prepare yourself for the unexpected, so that no matter what happens, you’re still the one who’s able to stand still and quietly, confidently, hold that space for yourself and for anyone nearby. You’ll catch glimpses of what it feels like to hold that space for your child, and those glimpses will become vantage points, places within yourself where you can stand and offer stability in your family, no matter what the context. As Vimala McClure describes in her book, The Tao of Motherhood, “You can manage your children with strength. Mastering your own life requires true power.” Parenting is no exception. As a parent, we magnetize nothing but our own behavior in that of our kids. If I point my finger and yell, at his next play date my 4-year-old son points his finger and screams at another child when he’s frustrated. He would never know how to do that without my example, and he’ll never know how to be masterful without my example either. And when I manage to listen attentively and sit with him so he can comfortably invite me into his mind and his realm, I get attention, kisses, hugs and hilarity returned to me. So in every moment as a parent, we magnetize our own behavior in our kids. You get it. How does yoga help? In the poses, I want to respond to my body’s resistance with patience (the spaciousness I personally need) rather than reacting with self-doubt. This allows me to be more patient with myself, and learn how to hold that patience for my kid rather than worrying about what else I could or should be doing. I then want to teach that process of holding space, which is really just a matter of learning to be expansive and more kind with myself, so the folks I’m teaching will be drawn to do that for themselves and their families.
The Proof Is In The Numbers: Folks in the South Are Turning To Yoga For Wellness, Fitness, And A Break From Modern Day Life.
Today’s fast paced generation thrives on instant gratification, pressure to be productive, and drive for perfection. For years the same mentality applied to fitness: We looked to programs that got us looking good in the same amount of time it takes to drive through the car wash. However, a new approach is spreading through the Fort Mill area as we recognize the need for something more. We are looking for an outlet that offers total mind and body wellness when we put on our workout gear. For this reason many of us are grabbing our yoga mat rather than running shoes when we head out. Yoga has been around for centuries and practiced by many, but according to Google, “The ancient art is experiencing a renaissance, with an estimated 12 million Americans now practicing yoga, double the number of just five years ago." So, why is yoga becoming the answer for so many? Because, when you come to a yoga studio it's like coming home: you kick off your shoes, put on something comfortable, and let the day go. This is a welcome change for those of us who used to drag ourselves to a gym where we would encounter fluorescent lighting, the sound of weights thumping into the floor, and the wait for our favorite machine. Now, we can just roll out our mat and breathe. In addition to the inviting atmosphere, we can find a class and routine that matches exactly what we need. Whether you want to trim and tone up for bikini season with a power class, detox with a hot practice, or just get started in a basic class, you can find exactly what you need any day of the week. Om Yoga, in Baxter Village, offers 8 different styles of practice throughout the week to choose from. Within each class further modifications, and physical adjustments are offered by each teacher to make the practice custom fit for you. It's as though each time you walk in you are getting personalized session. Furthermore, when you practice at OM, you feel like you are out with friends. You end up taking class with the same people and building a camaraderie that is both motivating and fun. Often times, people leave in groups to catch up over coffee after class. On Wednesdays, clients can even bring a friend for free! In addition to the overall wellness gained from yoga, practicing the physical postures conditions the body in a healthy way. Each pose uses only one’s own body weight as resistance without any unnecessary damage to the joints and bones. Unlike many popular exercise fads, yoga, safely tones the body while increasing bone density, blood circulation, and detoxification. Whether individuals are seeking an alternative fitness program, a way to manage stress, or a practice that increases mind and body wellness, yoga is the ancient secret that is resurfacing as the modern approach.
OM Yoga, in Fort Mill, offers a variety of yoga classes led by a highly respected team of teachers who are dedicated to inspire, challenge and help students reach their individual goals and desires through their practice. The relaxing ambiance and non- competitive environment provide a sanctuary from the daily pressures of a busy life. Whether the individual has been practicing for years or just starting out, he or she will find their niche at OM. If you would like more information on the benefits of yoga, or would like to plan your first visit at OM please visit our website at www.ombalayoga.com or call us at (803) 396-0493.
By Anastacia Ike-foreman
“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.” ~ Tina Fey, Bossypants Lately, I’ve been doing a weekly yoga focus, which has been receiving some great feedback. However, for December, I have decided to focus on stress reduction for the entire month. It’s so prevalent in our society at the moment that I feel it deserves to be the focus for more than just one week. As you know, the holiday season can be a time of great joy, but also of great stress. There are gifts to buy, parties to attend, family issues to deal with. All the while, we’re expected to continue doing everything else we normally do (like go to work, school, etc.). The “busyness” of everything thrown at us during this time of year can be overwhelming, and if we’re not careful, it can become detrimental to our health. Personally, this season is proving to be quite stressful for me. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but I’m noticing that my insomnia is back with a vengeance, I’m getting short of breath and short of temper, and generally just don’t feel like myself. Two weeks ago in my blog post about starting over, I mentioned that I was going to make sure I get on my mat every day for at least 30 minutes. For the most part, I have been able to do this. I’ve only missed two days, and there have been a couple of days where I’ve only had time for 20 minutes. But you know what? It’s a start, right? At least I am getting more mat time than I have been lately, so I’ll take it! Yesterday, I started wondering, “Why am I so stressed, then, when I am getting on my mat MORE? What gives?!” I’m not sure I can answer this yet, but I do know that though yoga as a whole is a great form of exercise for stress relief, it’s essential to make sure to include certain types of poses. So for December, work on making sure to incorporate a variety of the types of poses mentioned below as a way to center yourself, and to become more mindful of the true meaning of this time of year.
So what are your favorite poses to do when you’re stressed? What about other things that you do to rid yourself of stress (i.e., meditation, breathing exercises, shopping)? I love hearing what works for all of you out there in Blog Land, so please comment and share your tips and tricks. One of my hopes is that by sharing our knowledge with each other, we can truly make a difference in each other’s lives. It’s what yoga is all about!
“I’m letting go of everything I once was…I’m all in, I’m all in…” ~ by Toby Mac
In yoga, we need to focus on our journey yoga, not the destination. Easier said than done for many of us, wouldn’t you agree? If you’ve been trying to focus in your practice on the mat (or off the mat, for that matter) and have been having some trouble, remember this…it takes practice and repetition. But it also takes you making the CHOICE to do what needs to be done. You can practice your yoga poses over and over, and gain a lot of experience in the process. But until you make the choice — the decision that you are going to succeed — it’s just alot of MOVEMENT. There’s a shift that happens in your mind when you finally decide to let go and give it your all. Instead of thinking about trying to MAYBE make something happen, you think about how you WILL make it happen, no matter what. When you give your all, it’s amazing how much easier the path becomes. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel like such a chore anymore, and you stop questioning yourself so much. When you’ve given all of your heart to something, it’s easier to take on challenges that arise and persevere, because all of you is invested. Many of us start by doing this on our yoga mats. We may make a conscious decision to do whatever it takes to reduce our stress, relax more, loosen up tight body parts, strengthen weak parts. Those are all good things to start with, for sure. For me, it started back in 1999 with the decision that I needed to get on the mat to reduce stresss and sciatic nerve pain, because nothing else seemed to be working. It was torture for me the first few classes, because I had such a hard time focusing my mind on the task at hand, and I was constantly frustrating myself with my lack of flexibility compared to the other students in the room with me. But I was in it for the long haul. I had made the decision to go all in so that I could move forward in my life in such a way that made me happy and healthy. Pretty soon, I stopped looking around at everyone else in class and just focused on my teacher’s instructions. I turned my attention to my breath, noticing how it gravitated towards my tight and/or weak spots and worked at opening me up. Noticing how once I started doing that, it became easier to focus on what I was doing in the moment, instead of all the things that were stressing me out in my life. It wasn’t long before I saw this spilling over into my life off the mat. All of a sudden, I noticed I was able to look within myself more honestly, and there were some things I didn’t like. The fact that I always tend to avoid conflict, and that I am always bending over backwards to make sure everyone around me is happy, regardless of my own feelings. The fact that I shut down when things get tough. Now remember from up above that in yoga, we focus on the journey, right? Well, for me, I’m still on my journey. It has not been easy for me to make the changes I need to make. I definitely have more work to do, because self doubt constantly makes its way in. But as of late, I have recommitted to letting go of what I once was…I’m all in, so to speak. I’m saying to myself that I am worth doing whatever it takes to make my life the best it can be. On the mat and off. What about you? Will you join me on this journey? Will you take an honest look at your life and decide where changes need to be made, and then commit to doing whatever it takes to make the changes a reality? If you do, who knows what will happen? I can promise you this: no matter how things end up, you will know that if you were truly invested with your whole heart, then the result is what was meant for you. And how can that be bad?
Melanie Deal, RYT-200, lives in Fort Mill, SC and has been practicing yoga since 1999 and began teaching in 2002. She earned her 200-hour teacher training certification with YogaFit and is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance organization. Melanie is currently pursuing her RYT-500 certification through the Asheville Yoga Center.
“Sun salutations can energize and warm you, even on the darkest, coldest winter day.” -Carol Krucoff In general, Sun Salutations are used to warm the body at the beginning of a practice. However, Sun Salutations can be a complete practice in and of itself. If you’ve been to one of my classes, you’ve probably heard me say many times that if you have time for nothing else, you can get a complete workout just by doing a few rounds of Sun Salutations. The wonderful thing about them is that you cover strength and flexibility all at the same time. And if you move one breath for every movement, you may feel cardio benefits as well. There are 12 basic poses that make up a Sun Salutation. These 12 or so poses linked in a series can can distribute energy (prana) throughout the system, in addition to strengthening the body and adding flexibility. There are many Sun Salutation variations you can choose from, and you just need to choose the one that resonates with you the most. If you are a beginner to yoga, try this variation as a start. If you’re preference is a more active, powerful style, try this variation instead. There are so many benefits to incorporating Sun Salutations into your practice. From a physical standpoint, they open and strengthen the front and back of the body. From an emotional standpoint, they help in bringing the body, breath and mind into balance. And from a prescriptive standpoint, they’ve been shown to help with low energy and poor circulation issues. This week in class, we’ll be playing around with making Sun Salutations our own. The wonderful thing is that you can add or remove any pose you wish, just as long as you’re moving mindfully and with your breath. In my opinion, THIS is our chance to truly explore and play. Have fun!
My name is Melanie and I live in Fort Mill, SC. I’ve been exercising regularly for years and have been a yoga teacher since 2002. Check out my blog- SC Yoga girl