How I Fell In Love With Yoga

My yoga journey began in 2013. It started with an exercise video that included several ashtanga based yoga sequences that were designed to build strength and increase flexibility. I truly enjoyed those yoga sequences, and remember performing them with so much ease. Later, I attended classes at a yoga studio and at a fitness center. My interest in yoga eventually waned with each passing year, and I began pursuing other interests; such as hiking. I know now, in retrospect, that those ashtanga asanas weren’t designed for anyone just beginning a yoga practice. So, when I look back at that time I feel extremely fortunate for that experience.

It wasn’t until the end 2019 that I would rediscover yoga, and learn that I didn’t know as much about it as I thought I did. Never, in a million years did I ever expect to be as intrigued with yoga as I am today; after making the decision to pick it up again and deepen my practice. My decision to do so arose from my intent to find a way to manage the grief that I was feeling after losing my son. That led me to begin taking courses that would help me learn about the foundations and fundamentals of yoga . It turns out that was one of the best decisions that I have ever made for myself.

There was a time when I once thought that yoga only consisted of performing complex asanas (poses), maintaining a “certain look”, or living a specific way. For some, it may be just that, but that is not all that it is. Yoga is so much more.

Besides asanas (poses), yoga is also comprised of meditation and pranayama (breathing). In fact, the word yoga means “to yoke” or join together in Sanskrit. Moreover, according to Pantanjali, the father of yoga, it is about mastering the stillness of the mind, understanding the nature of reality and the true nature of self.

The asanas (poses) are actually just one part of what makes yoga… well…yoga. They are the part that assists in the creation of strength, flexibility and balance. The other components of yoga are related to mental focus, personal and spiritual ethics, and using the breath as a life force. All of which, once practiced daily help increase resilience, compassion and a connection to your higher self and source.

A lot has changed for me personally since 2013 including my levels of physical activity and flexibility. But thankfully, yoga is very forgiving. It doesn’t demand perfection. It only asks that you continue to show up on your mat daily, and when you do show up, that you meet yourself wherever you are, and create space for where you are trying to go. I love that so much.

Thank you for reading.

Until the next post..

Please take care.


References:

Satchidananda, Swami, Sri. (2018). The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali . Integral Yoga Publications.

Easwaran, Eknath. (2007). The Bhagavad Gita. Nilgiri Press.

How Are You Doing? A Message of Hope and Solidarity.

How Are You Doing? A Message of Hope and Solidarity.

As we have all been affected in one way or another by the coronavirus, (COVID-19), as it is known as a novel disease; and as a virus by the name SARS-CoV-2 I just wanted to take a moment to check in on you and say that I hope that you are doing well. I hope that your loved ones, too, are doing well. If it happens that you are not doing well or someone that you know is not, or has not fared well as a result of of this pandemic my heart goes out to you and please know that even though you may not know it, there are people who are thinking of you and praying for you every day. I am one of those people. What we are experiencing right now is heavy to bear, but it is something that we will overcome.

I would like to remind you of the importance of being present – especially when life may seem to be unraveling at the seams. Let me share with you a quote by R. Wayne Willis, author of Hope Notes which says, “To grow some hope, take a hope-full step. That first step is the most difficult.” There are times in our lives when cultivating hope can be a hard thing do, but in reality we should never really expect it to be something that will happen overnight. Some things need time. So take it day by day if you need to. Keep the faith and know that we will all get through this together.

If there is anything even the slightest bit positive about what we are now forced to endure, it the opportunity to come together as one as we work through our concerns, fears, losses and patiently await resolve.

As always, thank you for reading.

Until the next post…

Please take care.

Finding Joy

Photo by Jackson David on Pexels.com

“And here is the key: As long as you are letting your joy be your guiding light, then you can always stay in balance.” – Abraham Hicks

Not to sound cliche’, as I am saying this straight from the heart and with the utmost authenticity – “Spring is in the air!”

Yes! it’s in the air, and I am completely elated because springtime is the one season that lights a spark within me. I guess you could even say that springtime fill me with joy – real joy.

I used to think that it was solely because of the warmer weather, the unfurling plant life, the reemergence of all of the lovely colorful flowers, increased daylight, chirping birds – and I can not leave out the ladybugs and butterflies (just to name a few of spring’s most heart-warming assets.)

But, I have have come to realize that my feelings about spring go much deeper than those things just being things. They are things that awaken me to my core. I am humbled by them, and I am grateful for the benefits that I receive from them as they please all of my senses.

Ever energizing and euphorically interesting and otherworldly – springtime is the season that time and time again always brings me back home.

Where do you find joy?

Thanks for reading.

Until the next post…

Take care.

Ayurveda: What is it?

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Ayurveda! A name that you’ve, undoubtedly, heard a lot about lately as it has become a trending practice. But did you know that ayurveda has been around for a very long time, and is one of the first systems of medicine in human existence?

Originating in India, it is a 5,000 year old system of healing that addresses the mind, body, and soul.

Other forms of healing and medicine have a connection to it such as traditional Chinese medicine, reiki, accupuncture, accupressure, polarity therapy, energy medicine and herbal medicine just to name a few.

One of the most interesting things about ayurveda is the way that it acknowledges the wisdom of other cultures and traditions in addition to its own.

Often referred to as “the science of life”, ayurvedic knowledge was derived from the Indian Vedas, which is one of the oldest written texts in the world, and a traditional concept of philosophical phrases, (known as sutras), as a way of transferring knowledge to the next generation.

A central belief in Ayurveda is that food is medicine, but ayurveda is not just about diet and nutrition. It is a lifestyle that can include diet, maintaining a daily routine, the elimination of bodily toxins, aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, breathwork, chanting and various other holistically based selfcare methods – but the most important part of ayurvedic practice is the utilization of dosha specific guidance.

The goal of an ayurvedic practice is to bring the body into a state of balance and to maintain that balance; which in turn, helps with overall wellness. It is also believed to help with healing faster should you become ill.

What I love the most about ayurveda is its personal approach to wellness through the use of doshas that help address your individual and unique health concerns. In other words, it’s customizable and what’s not to love about something that is specially designed to help you care for yourself and address your own specific health needs? Because if you really think about it, health and wellness (perhaps) shouldn’t consist of a “one-size-fits-all solution. Wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks for reading.

Until the next post…

Take care.

On Meditating

On Meditating

Meditation is one of those things that, when thought of, is often considered to be something that is rather easy to do. Yet, some people may find that once they get into position, (which is usually some variation of the lotus position, but can be just about any position that you find comfortable), they tend to have difficulty maintaining their posture, maintaining a still mind or both.

I used to be one of those people, until I attended a yoga class, one of which meditation was a part of; and I quickly discovered that it’s actually quite common to lose focus while meditating. It was my instructor who, ever so graciously, helped to put my mind at ease and made me feel less uncomfortable about my ability to meditate – and to do so in a way that I could actually benefit and grow in my meditation practice.

I learned that meditation doesn’t have to feel as initially intimidating as it often does for many. Nor does it require that you clear your mind of your thoughts. Instead, it is more important that you learn to work with the thoughts that come through your mind. Why should you do this? Well, because your thoughts are likely going to keep coming. So, in lieu of fighting your thoughts, it would be better to accept that they are there and say to yourself, (mentally, of course, especially if you are meditating in a class with others), “I am in control of my thoughts” and then simply practice controlling them.

One way to do this is to continue to relax, close your eyes, try stilling your mind, (you can do it!), and then pretend that your thoughts are on imaginary clouds. Place your thoughts on clouds that are floating by, in your mind while your eyes are closed, and while maintaining your focus on the task of meditating. Lastly, observe each thought as they float away – far away.

Another similar option would be to put your thoughts in imaginary balloons and observe each thought as they are being released into a sunset filled sky and then – just let go.

I have tried both methods and they have worked well for me. I found that they keep me from being distracted by any thoughts or concerns of the day to where it makes getting through a complete meditation session much easier and without feeling as thought I am clearly focused one minute; and then losing my concentration the next.

So, it is considered acceptable if you find that you have to keep trying again and again to maintain your focus while meditating until you are able to get to a point where your mind no longer feels the need to wander. With a regular meditation practice you will likely find yourself becoming less of a meditation amateur just like I did.

One of my favorite things about yoga and meditation is the philosophy behind the practice; and how they offer so much in way of self-compassion. My holistic living journey over the past several months has been quite the eye-opener and I am excited to see where else it takes me. Thank you for reading.

Until the next post…

With love. Take Care.

Losing a Pet is Like Losing a Child

Losing a Pet is Like Losing a Child

Good Monday to you!

This one is for pet owners.

It’s also for anyone who can’t understand why people grieve the loss of their pets.

We lost our family pet during the first week of January. He was the sweetest, funniest (yes, pets can make you laugh hysterically), “little ham” ever – and a big part of our lives. When you’ve had a pet for 14 years they tend to grow on you and their loss can really “sting”.

Whoever said, “Pets are like Family” obviously owned, cared for and loved one themselves, because they sure knew what they were talking about. We found our little guy , a chihuahua mix, at a local pet store — but he was a shelter dog. One that if not for our youngest child, ( our son who passed away), asking us repeatedly to get a dog, we would not have had. Which would’ve meant that we would have missed out on some very special moments.

Just as with the family members and friends that we have lost, we have memories in the form of photos; but there also the stories. Oh, how I love the stories.

They remind us of the reason why “he” had to be the one to come home with us and become a part of our family.

It hurt having to say goodbye to him forever, not just because we loved him, but because having him around after losing our son allowed us to still have a little bit of our son around.

If you think about it… our pets lives are very much like that of the life that we have with our children, or anyone else that we may be taking care of on a daily basis. Their lives become intertwined with ours as we wake each day, on time, to ensure that they are fed.

We play with them, talk to them (yes, I said “talk” to them), we socialize them with other pets at pet establishments or dog parks; and sometimes we even set up play dates for them. We take them to the veterinarian to keep them healthy, or when they become ill.

Many pet owners, like myself, watch what our pets eat to ensure that they are eating foods that will benefit their health needs and keep their bodies strong.

We make sure that they exercise – usually with a nice walk, and it’s not unusual to hear a “pet-parent” talk about how their pet is often their source of motivation to get off the couch and to get a little exercise.

It’s no wonder that pet owners are considered healthier than non-pet owners, (even though recent research concludes that there is not enough evidence to support that belief). Yet, as a life-long pet owner I believe in the benefits and positive effects of pet ownership; and I challenge you to become a pet owner and judge for yourself!

Our pets keep us going and moving through life, while also adding positively to our livelihood. But, it’s their unconditional love that we probably benefit from the most. As that part of pet ownership has been shown to support emotional health and well-being.

I am sure that every pet owner will agree that there is nothing like the warm welcome and excitement that your pet shows when you walk through the door after being gone for a while.

Here is the thing… A loss is a loss. It doesn’t matter if it is a family member, friend or pet. It’s about how those we lost had an affect on our lives, and how much we will forever miss them.

So remember this the next time that someone thinks you are being dramatic because your pet died and you are grieving their loss; and keep grieving until you feel better. It’s not your fault that they don’t understand. Nor is it your responsibility to make them understand. But, feel free to send them a link to this post in hopes that they may one day learn to understand that pet loss is just as realistic and significant as human loss.

Thank you for reading!

Until the next post…

With love.

Take care,

xo

Why I Began Living a Holistic Lifestyle

Why I Began Living a Holistic Lifestyle

Grief really took a lot out of me. I didn’t expect it to, but it had a negative impact on my health. This was despite the fact that I did my best to eat healthy, exercise, get adequate rest and go hiking often.

To be honest, I was really taken aback and quite surprised at how draining grief can be. It’s funny how we never expect ourselves to ever experience certain things. I guess you could say that grief “caught me off guard.” I believed that I was handling my grief well, but a year later discovered that I was doing just the opposite when I had a health scare and had to go to the hospital to find out why I was having breathing and heart issues. That is when I knew that I had to make a change.

“Honor the physical temple that houses you by eating healthfully, exercising, listening to your body’s needs, and treating it with dignity and love.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

Grief affects you emotionally, but it can also put a strain on you physiologically and physically and take a toll on your whole body. Oftentimes you’ll feel as though what you’re feeling is just basic tiredness, but for me it wasn’t just tiredness. I just wanted to feel like myself again. So, I took the leap to take my health power back (so to speak).

One way that I did just that was to begin living a holistic lifestyle that included changing the way that I eat, sleep, rest, think about myself and others, exercise, live and basically just care for my whole self.

Since I made that lifestyle change I have been able to lose weight, (without even trying to), reduce bodily aches and pains, reverse 2 chronic health conditions, gain increased energy throughout the day, manage stress better, become more calm and mindful in all aspects of my life, improve the way that my body feels and the way that I approach and think about life.

Living a holistic life is not a diet or a fad. If done, it should become a way of life if one is to reap the rewards of the benefits that it offers.

I’ll talk more about what a holistic lifestyle is this week, but I just wanted to share my “Why?” with you for now, and how excited I am about the changes that I’ve made.

I can tell you that I love that it’s not just about food, or just about exercise, or just about spirituality. What drew me to it is how this lifestyle cares for all parts of you. I also love it’s connection to living in harmony with nature. I am glad that I stumbled across this new lifestyle and I can’t wait to share more about it with you.

“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine, our medicine should be our food.”

– Hippocrates

Have you made any lifestyle changes lately? I would love to hear your story in the comments section below.

Or, if you’d feel more comfortable discussing privately…shoot me an email.

Happy Halloween! If you are celebrating the day, have fun and be safe.

Thanks for reading!

Until the next post…

Take care,

Carol

Affirmations

Affirmations

Have you ever tried using affirmations as a means of self-help or self-improvement?

An affirmation is a positive statement that is repeated or written until it is believed to have manifested. They are quite helpful in decreasing negative thoughts, and every time that an affirmation is recited it helps to strengthen positive thinking.

My first experience with affirmations was less than favorable to say the least. In fact, the first time that I tried them I was instantly unimpressed and convinced that they were ineffective.

It seems I somehow formed the conclusion that they were just some type of “woo-woo” new age thing that didn’t offer any real inspiration or serve a viable purpose, (not that there is anything wrong with new age concepts…) I am not judging here. At that time it just felt wrong.

I remember I didn’t like the way that saying them made me feel when I recited them. They always left me feeling as though I was sad, incomplete and somewhat pitiful. Which was quite the opposite of how they were supposed to make me feel. Affirmations are supposed to leave you with a sense of empowerment. Why wasn’t I feeling empowered?

I later learned that affirmations, just like anything else that is created for the purpose of self-development and personal growth, work best “if” the person is ready, willing and open to receiving what the self-help task being performed is attempting to help you accomplish. I think sometimes when it comes to self-help activities we often expect them to work in an instant – like magic – at least that was the belief that I had at that time in my life. That is often not the case though. It took me a long time to realize that. Now I say say affirmations daily and I appreciate the gift of mental and spiritual inspiration that they give me each day.

What I like the most about affirmations, is that they work very similarly to gratitude in that they are personal, and they remind you of the positive life affirming aspects of your life. Every affirmation, once spoken, wraps you in your own personal strength and power; and prepares you for a day in which you will be prepared to take on any obstacle. To me, they are like daily “mental rainbows’ that provide you with little shots of extra resilience while also filling your heart with self-compassion and joy.

An affirmation as simple as “I am feeling stronger today” can help provide you with that little bit of encouragement needed to perhaps… get out of bed and face the day ahead when you are in a bereaved state; or experiencing some other type of loss.

In addition, reciting an affirmation such as ” I am feeling stronger today” is considered to be a better affirmation to use than something very simplistic like: “I am strong” because it is more reality based, a little more in-depth and considered to be easier to accept – and therefore apply. This works well for me, but feel free to try this for yourself to see if it works for you.

Other examples would include the following:

  • Using the affirmation statement “I will be kind to myself today and apply patience through all things that I encounter, ” instead of using a statement such as “I have an abundance of patience.”
  • “It is okay for me to laugh sometimes because laugher is a soul’s expression of joy. Appropriate laughter helps me breathe positive energy into the universe”, Instead of ” I will remember to laugh to foster a sense of joy.”
  • “I am present in my life and open to receiving love and support and good energy from others”, instead of ” I am open to socializing, and trying new things.”
  • “I trust that my ability to create a new story, (or add to the one I already have), is strong when things go wrong in my life, and I repel all doubt of my ability to do so”, instead of ” I can and will beat any adversity.”

A few ways that affirmations are useful include the following:

  • They help you draw on your ability to be open and receive positive energy from source or the universe.
  • They allow you to focus on applying courage because instead of denouncing your fears, they help you climb over them.
  • They help you apply patience, because they help you remain honest about your abilities and intentions.
  • They help with resilience because they make it easier to keep showing up during tough times.
  • They help you maintain your sense of humor and your ability to smile, laugh, not take life too seriously.

If you haven’t already done so, try creating your own daily affirmations, or if you’ve tried and had a bad first experience like I did, why not give it another try and see if it adds value to your life this time around. You’ve got nothing to lose, only something to (hopefully) gain. I wish you luck. Love and light to you.

Thank you for reading!

Until the next post…

Take care + be well.