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.

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.

What is Holistic Living?

When you think of holistic living, you may conjure up thoughts of consuming “green juice”, using herbs to heal ailments or improve nutrition, creating natural beauty products out of resources made in nature, or some form of complementary medicine such as acupuncture.

Although those things definitely fit into the scope of living holistically, they are a small part of what it means to live a holistic lifestyle.

Holistic living is a philosophy that requires an understanding that all parts of the body, or self, are interconnected and should be considered when taking care of one’s complete health and wellness.

Moreover, on a more basic and common level of understanding what it means to live holistically, it simply means living your life in balance with your mind, body, soul, (and I always like to include heart as well.)

There is no specific way to live holistically, but, one important aspect of doing so consists of living in tune with nature and using natural products, elements, and food, etc., keeping your thoughts and emotions as positively open and healthy as possible – and doing it all collectively as a way to heal or maintain health, wellness and well-being.

I hope this post gives you at least a hint or an idea of what it means to live a holistic lifestyle. Stay tuned for a few ideas on ways to live a holistic lifestyle.

Until the next post…

Thank you for reading.

Take care,

Carol

A Pest-Free Yard + Home

A Pest-Free Yard + Home

” A flower blossoms for it’s own joy.”

– Oscar Wilde

 

Do you enjoy gardening?  I do.  I just wish that I could do a lot more of it. Thankfully, I am discovering that the older that I get, the more time I seem to have for it which is a definite plus.  I suppose eventually I’ll be able to garden on days other than the weekends at some point at this rate. Little by little, day by day, right?

I love gardening because it is so relaxing. I also enjoy the reward of caring for something and watching it grow into something wonderful and beautiful.

If you don’t garden you might be surprised to learn that it is a very physical activity, so much so that I consider it a form of exercise. Digging holes, bending and squatting to pull weeds, clipping and cutting, and when you are propagating several plants at one time it can be somewhat labor intensive. So, it’s a good way of getting exercise if you aren’t into exercising…well, sort of.  

I love the way that annuals and perennials add character and color to my yard during the spring, summer and fall months.  I also love it when the plants and flowers that I plant attract butterflies, ladybugs and birds – especially butterflies and hummingbirds.  However, I am less enthused when my yard attracts a lot of bees, flies, snails or other bugs. Not because I don’t like bugs, but because I would rather not get bitten or stung by any insects, and it can be very frustrating when they eat the leaves of my plants and open them up to disease and eventually plant loss. 

One way that I try to combat insects, and their sometimes vicious little bites, are by planting plants that have the ability to repel and ward off certain insects.  Some of the plants that can be quite useful for keeping mosquitoes at bay include mint, basil, lavender, lemongrass and chrysanthemums and marigolds. I like to keep at least two planters filled with bright, beautiful marigolds and chrysanthemums by my front door during the second half of summer through the fall season, and I am also sure that is something that our guests likely appreciate when they stop by to visit as well.

The marigolds and chrysanthemums are beautiful to look at and add that curb appeal to the front yard, but lately I have been thinking about adding some olfactory benefits to my front yard as well. 

I really love the smell of lemongrass and lavender and would love to add both to my front yard. The tricky part is finding a good spot in my yard, or in a pot on the porch, that doesn’t take anything away from the aesthetics of the yard design. I’ll figure it out at some point and I will be sure to post and share that with you when I do so you can have an idea of how to incorporate it in your yard should that be something that interests you.

I was gifted a mint plant last year and I kept it indoors for several months so that it could serve as a natural indoor repellent, and a natural herb to use for cooking that was handy and within reach while cooking.  As a child my mother used to grow mint in our backyard and the refreshing scent is something that I will always associate with home. The scent is light, but still delightful and can be very comforting.

The mint plant that I received eventually outgrew the pot that it was in, and I felt that it was time to move it outdoors. I also wanted to see if it would actually grow outside, and it grew very well outdoors – although I decided to keep it in a larger pot instead of planting it in the ground because after conducting a little research, I learned that they tend to spread if planted in the ground and given a lot of room to grow. This was just my personal preference because I need all of the extra planting space that I can get because I am also currently working on creating a memorial garden, and unfortunately, mint isn’t on that garden’s planting list.   

During the winter and into spring when we get a lot of rain on the west coast we tend to get a lot of snail activity where I live which is, more often than not a bad situation for many of my plants and flowers. Lucky for me though, not too long ago, I was informed by a neighbor that the fennel plant is a great plant to use in your garden if you want to get rid of snails. That was great news for me being that I usually use Corry’s Slug and Snail Killer, and have been looking for something more natural to use for our snail problem. I can’t wait to try that option later this year.

I can’t end this post without mentioning my favorite flowers – petunias! I absolutely adore petunias, and they way that they add so much flair to a yard during the spring and summer.

The pest-free benefit of petunias is that they are supposed to be good at keep aphids away.  (You know, those pesky little critters that are known to invade your lovely rose bushes and delicate indoor plants.)  Petunias are my go to flowers once the weather begins to warm up after winter, and I am ready to add a pop of color to my yard.  If the petunias still happen to get aphids I then turn to using safe soap based insecticidal solutions to get rid of them. 

Even with the likelihood of getting garden pests, I still enjoy this hobby and I appreciate the joy that it instills within me. 

If you have any other ideas for getting rid of garden pests, please comment as I would love to hear your ideas! Love and light to you!

Thank you for reading.

Until the next post…

Take care + be well 

   

“When your hands in the dirt, ready to care for a living thing, that is a time when your cares melt away.”

– Salubrity + Soul

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.