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.

Finding Joy

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“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?

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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.

Contentment

Contentment

Hello and Happy September! In my last post I made a reference about how it is impossible for everyone to do something big or great. Well, I received a little feedback from some of my readers regarding that post and how it appears to denote a defeatist tone and may come off as uninspiring.

Before I go on, I would like to first apologize to anyone who may have found the content in that post offensive or otherwise. Secondly, I would like to say that I can see how the perspective in that post may have seemed counterproductive with regard to maintaining a postive outlook on life, or how it may have come of as being pessimistic. However, that is not the kind of message that I was trying to convey.

“Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves.” – Pema Chodron

The main focus on that post was actually about practicing self-compassion, acceptance and more important…contentment. It was not intented, in any way, to share any likeness with self-pity or lacking.

It came from a place of understanding that is more modest than egocentric.

It also came from a place that engenders a less acquisitive perspective towards the achievement of goals and aspirations; while still celebrating one’s achievements, goals and aspirations…whatever those achievements goals and aspirations may be.

“I only seem negative to the fortunate. That is because I show the less fortunate that they aren’t less fortunate after all.” – Criss Jami

In short, that blog post was meant to inspire, encourage – but most of all empower. It was created to support those who may need to feel good about the way that they are choosing to show up and contribute to society, especially if to them – it may not seem like it is “enough”.

It’s no secret that some of us will become very well known and some of us will not. Most of us will not. Some of us will earn PhD’s and some of us will not. Some of us will form corporations. Some of us will not. Then there is the consideration of whether or not we actually want to take on a bigger responsibility and role. Sometimes it’s hard to understand and accept that others aren’t interested in the same things that we are interested in; and that doesn’t mean that something is wrong with them. We forget that as connected as we are, we still, as a society value individuality. It’s our differences that make us beautiful and more important…interesting. Just strive every day to be good at what it is that you do!

It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, or how you choose to do it. The only thing that really matters is that you are trying to do something good – and that you’re not causing anyone any harm while doing so. If you are bringing something good into this universe of ours, then you are doing plenty! No matter how big or small. Besides… I am sure we can all agree that doing something is better than not doing anything at all when it comes to trying to make the world a better place… A more interesting and special place. Love and light to you!

Thanks for reading!

Until the next post…

Take care + be well.

The Last Mercury Retrograde of 2018

The Last Mercury Retrograde of 2018

Greetings everyone! Today is the last Mercury Retrograde of 2018.  If you are familiar with astrology or the metaphysical side of spirituality then you are probably familiar with the term Mercury Retrograde.  If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, it is a planetary event that takes place 3, (sometimes 4), times a year in which the planet Mercury appears to travel in a backwards motion when viewed from earth.  It has been determined, though, that it is not actually traveling backward but is just moving very slowly which gives the illusion that it is moving backward. Scientifically, this process is known as apparent retrograde motion

Mercury Retrograde dates for 2018 were 

March 23rd – April 15th  (In Aries)

July 26th – August 19th  (In Leo + Scorpio)

November 17 – December 6th  (In Sagittarius + Scorpio)

It’s About Communication

How all of this relates to this planetary event is that since the planet Mercury is associated with communication, whenever mercury goes retrograde it tends to wreak havoc by causing errors in all forms of communication and it can also affect human behavior, cause delays, issues and problems.  The types of communication that can be affected include, but are not limited to:

  • Speaking + listening
  • Reading + learning
  • Editing + researching
  • Selling + buying

With this in mind, as you might guess, whenever this event occurs the likelihood that you may be misunderstood, get into an argument with someone, misinterpret things, not pay good attention to things or make mistakes is high.   A few other things to be wary of are:

  • Starting anything new 
  • Merchandise purchases 
  • Agreements + contract signings
  • Dating + relationships
  • Having surgery
  • Mailing important documents
  • Equipment breakdowns
  • Travel issues
  • Sudden + unexpected change of plans
  • Email + social media mishaps
  • Losing things + forgetfulness
  • Etc…You get the picture don’t you?

Pseudoscience?

Is this just pseudoscience?  Maybe… but for anyone who has experienced the results of mercury retrograde or believes in the influence of planetary alignments it is an actuality.  Mercury is not the only planet that “retrogrades’, but it is the most popular type of planetary retrograde event.

Not So Bad…

Whenever mercury goes retrograde it is a good idea to pay close attention to the possibility that problems may arise and trouble may ensue. So, it is probably best to steer clear of agreeing to anything or making any important life changing plans until mercury retrograde has ended.  There are some people who consider mercury retrograde somewhat ominous, but there are many others who choose not to view it in that way and see this event as a time of opportunity. 


The good thing about mercury retrograde is that we can prepare for it and work around it or decide to carry out an action at a later date  – Thankfully.   

A key thing to remember about mercury retrograde is that it always involves another sign and the element associated with that other sign. What does that mean? Well, if mercury is in an earth sign at the time that it retrogrades any problems can usually be eased by applying a bit of practicality instead of  wishful or hopeful thinking. If in an air sign analyzing and careful thought or discussion can be helpful. If in a water sign it’s all about using your intuition, and if mercury is in a fire sign, the best thing you can do is use your creativity and be daring and bold in your approach to attempting to fix any retrograde related problems.  

This current and last mercury retrograde was actually the first time, (that I really noticed it having an effect on me and my life.  Initially, I had not even considered that all of my recent miscommunication issues and delays were  because of mercury retrograde. Yet, when they kept happening over and over again that is when I began to get a little concerned – and then earlier this week it hit me… Of course! Why had I not thought of this sooner?  It was just a little planetary interference.

As you can see, mercury retrograde is not all doom and gloom. It is a time to:

  • slow down a bit and set or reassess any intentions, priorities and goals.
  • Tune into your intuition.
  • Change any bad habits that you may have.
  • Set new personal affirmations.
  • Express your creative side.    

Goodbye For Now

It will be a while before the next mercury retrograde event:

The Mercury Retrograde dates for 2019 are:

March 5th – 28th  (In Pisces)

July 7th – 31st  (In Leo + Cancer)

October 31st – November 20th (In Scorpio)

So, smile! If this is something that you follow and believe in then there is plenty of time to prepare for any commotion that the next events may cause you.  Now we can all focus a little more on holiday meal planning, gift giving, thinking of new ways to remember and honor lost loved ones and all of the cheerful loveliness of the holiday season – for me – that is a gift in itself (thank you for that experience mercury retrograde) and what a great way to welcome the Christmas season and ring in 2019! 

Until the next post

Blessings!

Take care + be well,

Carol 

10 Things A Digital Detox Can Do For You.

10 Things A Digital Detox Can Do For You.
Computer and social media use have become an ever increasing part of our lives.  I remember when my kids were the only ones in our household who stayed continuously connected to the computer, other digital gadgets, or used any type of social media platform throughout the day.  Well, a lot has changed over the years, as I am sure it has for many other families as well, given that more adults use their computers and smartphones today for a variety of reasons, not just for work.
Many adults today must stay connected to their devices and/or social media for work purposes, but a larger majority stay plugged in to maintain contact with family and friends from near and far or just for sheer entertainment.  Still, young adults are leading the way when it comes to staying digitally connected.
It’s often very hard to not reach for our smartphones when we hear that little signal from our phones letting us know that we just received a like, a comment or a new follow.  Similarly, email updates can add to our “digital anxiety” when we receive an email notification and suddenly feel compelled to see what surprise awaits us in our inbox, or we suddenly realize that there are a host of emails that we need to delete. Furthermore, who has never been enticed to check their phones before going to bed at night? We have become a “plugged-in” society and it seems that, in many ways, this way of life has somewhat removed us from society instead of helping us become more connected to each other. It is funny how something that was originally designed with the intent to make life easier has fallen short of helping us feel more at ease in life. If any of these feelings resonate with you then it might be time to consider doing a digital detox.
A digital detox consists of taking a break from all digital life for a specified amount of time.  The time can be any length of your own choosing and based upon your own unique needs. I usually make an effort to take one at least once a year for a week, but some people have been known to take a much longer break. How you plan your digital detox is all up to you.  I must add that if you are going to do a digital detox and you are online regularly, make sure to let your followers know ahead of time that you will not be posting anything for a while and provide them with a brief explanation of what you will be doing; otherwise they may lose interest or have concerns about your absence. Trust me, they will thank you for it and you will be glad that you did it.      
Here is a list of my top 10 benefits of doing a regular digital detox:
  1. A digital detox allows you to ease through your day, feel less pressured and get a lot more accomplished.
  2. Allows you to live “in the moment” and pay more attention to “the little, but meaningful things.”   
  3. You get to take control of your life once again – even if only for a short time.
  4. You will find yourself with the freedom to eat your meals more mindfully.
  5. You get to set an example for your kids and show them that it is alright to focus on other things in life besides our computers and smartphones. 
  6. You will find yourself  feeling a sense of calm and relief as you unconsciously become “deprogrammed.”  
  7. You will be contributing to your physical health by spending less time near harmful EMF’s (Electronic Magnetic Fields), increasing your change of getting carpal tunnel syndrome and improving your adrenal system.
  8. You will be teaching yourself to become less dependent on digital devices and social media.
  9. You will be contributing to your mental health by reducing the likelihood of depression, ADHD and other conditions that are related to excessive digital device and screen time use.
  10. You will find that you have more time to spend with family or friends and do the things that you thought you would never have time for. 

If you decide to do a digital detox I wish you a happy, peaceful break from being continuously “connected” – Enjoy!

Until the next post.


Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well,

Carol xo

How I Fell in Love with Hiking

How I Fell in Love with Hiking
My first hiking trip was taken on a whim.  It was an idea that arose from a discussion between my husband and myself regarding what we should do for our upcoming Anniversary.  My husband can be quite accommodating when it comes to letting me chose a locale for a trip or a night out, but the idea that I had in my mind at that time was one that I wasn’t sure that he would be willing to agree to. Yet, much to my delight, he agreed, albeit his agreement was not without some hesitation.
I wanted to visit the desert for a considerably long time.  It’s a landscape that I am often drawn to and have always had a fascination with. Although I would have also loved another quintessential night on the town, complete with a delectable dinner at a lavish restaurant, that option could not contend with a trip to the desert. More specifically, a trip to Joshua Tree National Park or the Mojave Desert – Not this time. I guess you could say that the desert was calling me and I could not say no.
After further discussion about our choices, my husband expressed that his less than enthusiastic response to my request, (at first), was because of his disinterest in desert landscapes. This just happened to also be when I learned that he’s more of a forest kind of guy. We laughed at a few of his jokes about there being absolutely nothing in the desert to do or see and I begged to differ.  He acquiesced,  I smiled and then we proceeded to make our trip reservations for Joshua Tree National Park.
I think people thought that we must have lost our minds when we told them what we planned to do for our Anniversary that year, and maybe for a second, we too, began wondering whether we were making the right decision. Who wants to jeopardize spoiling their Anniversary? We had never been hiking before. Nor had we ever done anything outdoorsy for any special occasion, so this was something that was unusual, but I really wanted to do something different and my husband agreed that maybe it was time for us to start trying things that were different. We were definitely up to the challenge and looking forward to discovering what the desert had to offer.  Little did we know at the time that we had just made one of the best decisions that we have ever made during our many years together as a married couple.
We conducted a bit of research on the park and learned that Joshua Tree National Park is considered to be a highly spiritual place. We were skeptical, but still very curious to know if this held any truth.  That element alone played a big part in making this trip exciting.
We went during the spring, so the weather was hot, being that it was the desert, but it was also moderate and not as hot as it would have been had we went during the summer. This made for a comfortable visit. Going during the springtime also made the desert seem more like a desert oasis because we got to see a lot of wildflowers, the bright colors of the flowers on the cacti and the landscape was a lot more verdant that we expected due to the previous season’s rains. My husband was surprised to see that it did not seem like the typical desert he had in his mind and I was amazed at how beautiful everything was. It could not have been more perfect.
The first trail that we ventured to was the Split Rock Loop Trail. I was in awe of the rock climbers and we were both so fascinated with their skill and bravado that we had to stop and watch them for a while. Moments later we decided to try the 2 mile loop trail there which was very invigorating. That was the moment that we began feeling like we were suddenly hikers.
Next we visited two popular spots known as Skull Rock and Elephant Rock. Skull Rock is exactly what it sounds like. The trails here are relatively easy to hike, but they are filled with large boulder like rocks that we spent a lot of time climbing to the top of to enjoy the many gorgeous views of this area, especially during  a sunrise or sunset.   These became one of our favorite spots and we revisited this area several times that weekend. Not just because of the views and attractions, but it was one area that we felt the most spiritual energy. The energy here was magical.
I love nature, so I had to stop at the Arch Rock Nature Trail.  This trail has one of the most unique rock formations in the park. The namesake Arch Rock is a slab of rock shaped like an arch or a bridge. This is also another popular spot in the park and is often quite crowded most of the time. We weren’t able to get a good view of Arch Rock during that visit but we did get to enjoy the other sights of other odd rock formations as well as the .5 mile hiking trail.
The last trail that we ventured through was the Cap Rock Trail.  This was a short .4 mile trail loop with extensive views of Joshua Trees. It was quite picturesque during the twilight time during the spring, and it presented us with more stunning views of wildlife and wildflowers.
As you can see, we chose to hike short, easy trails during our first hiking trip. We did this because of our inexperience and because we wanted to take it easy until we were able to learn more about hiking and hiking safety.  Initially, we had the impression that hiking is very much like walking, but it isn’t.  Especially when you are exposed to the elements and wildlife that you would not ordinarily be exposed to on an average walk. We also, at the time, were not prepared with enough supplies should we had made the mistake of wandering too far out into the desert and lost our way back to where our car was parked.  That would have been devastating, not to mention irresponsible on our part. Safety is key when hiking.
Still, that trip back in 2016 inspired us so much that hiking has become a favorite pastime for us.  It is a way that we’re able to spend quality time together and stay healthy as we grow old together.  It has also been a very helpful outlet for us during our bereavement, so we are both very glad that we took on this hobby before losing our son.
What I love the most about hiking is the way that it makes me feel. I love how it centers me. I love the way that it reminds me of how connected we all are to everything. It is exercise for the mind, body, heart and soul. It’s also the only exercise that I can think of that is mentally, spiritually, visually, audibly and kinesthetically stimulating while also being relaxing at the same time.  If you’re looking for a way to stay healthy that doesn’t feel completely like exercise and that allows you to also enjoy all the beauty of nature and life, I recommend that you try hiking. Get out in the open, enjoy the fresh air and discover all the ways that this form of adventure can excite and inspire you.
Until the next post.

Blessings,
Take Care + Be Well,
Carol xo