Self-love is where transformation begins

Hi All! I am excited to share something I have been working towards for a long time. I hope my words will resonate with you and bring some hope to your day!

Empowering others to take charge of their own health, naturally, is my life’s purpose. Nothing makes me happier than seeing others succeed and thrive! Continual emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual growth is my passion and I have overcome many personal challenges. I reversed an autoimmune disease with lifestyle medicine and proved my doctors wrong. I couldn’t accept the idea of being on daily medication for the rest of my life. I knew there was a better way. I struggled with hormonal issues, disordered eating, negative self-talk, addictions, anxiety, depression, and severe back pain in my earlier years. I watched various family members, including my mother, suffer from breast cancer and all of its repercussions. Others close to me have had to live with diabetes and its many complications. Early in life I had a feeling, and now know without a doubt, that chronic diseases are often avoidable and sometimes reversible with lifestyle changes.

With the help of mentors, teachers, healers, and coaches along the way, these last 20 years I dove into the research and made an experiment of my own life and health. Yoga, meditation, a plant-based whole foods diet, and various other natural healing modalities have brought me to a whole new level of existence I’d never imagined was possible! I began to live my dreams and experience joy I had never felt before. And there’s always more to learn! Approaching 40 I feel younger, healthier, happier, and freer than I did when I was 20. I am excited to wake up every day and experience the magic of life. I have learned a lot on my journey and want to share it with as many people as I can. It’s never too late to live a fulfilling, healthy, abundant life!

I’ve been working with type 2 diabetics for over a year now and have seen them lower their blood sugars, come off of insulin and other medications, and in a couple of cases actually reverse their disease! To fully live my purpose, though, I want to expand my work to include anyone wanting to learn more about lifestyle medicine. I have joined an amazing group of holistic health, nutrition, fitness, and business professionals, yoga teachers, and healers with big hearts. As a health coach I will guide others on their own journeys toward optimal health! If you or someone you love is ready to fully commit to self-transformation, please feel free to reach out! It would be my pleasure to serve anyone willing and ready. I will only be accepting 3 people into the program at this time, beginning February 15th. Email me for details.

loving-kindness

Have You Ever Seen Yoga Like THIS?

What do you feel when you watch this?

See the entire documentary here.

Yoga Sequence for Letting Go

cloudy skyHolding on to something you don’t need? Grief, pain, or guilt that won’t seem to leave you alone? Life requires letting go.

We all experience loss from time to time. Sometimes we regret our own actions or words. Each mistake is a lesson and an opportunity to become a better person. Each loss is a natural part of life that cannot be avoided. It’s important to stay gentle with ourselves. Try this yoga sequence for some relief. Love yourself and let go. Give yourself time to relax. Give yourself permission to cry, to feel deeply, to do what it takes to eventually let the emotion(s) pass.

  • Play some peaceful music, if you’d like – here’s some recent relaxation music I discovered
  • Cultivate ujjayi breathing, deep ocean breath through the nose. Immerse yourself in breath. 
  • Hold these poses for several long, slow breaths (5-10 in and out) each.
  • Listen to your body. Be aware of all your body parts. Feel them touch the ground, the rug, or the mat you are on.
  • Notice the subtle shifts that happen as you hold each pose. Watch your emotions, let them pass. Watch your breath.
  • Be with the practice. Be present. Know you are safe and it’s OK to let go.
  • Keep your connection to your body. Try not to get lost in thought. If and when you do, as soon as you realize it, come back to focusing on the breath.
  • Relax your jaw. Relax your eyes. Envision a warm light of compassion and love streaming into your heart.

Uttanasana ~ Standing Forward Bend

Baddha Konasana ~ Butterfly

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana ~ Upward Dog

Balasana ~ Child’s

Ardha Matsyendrasana ~ Seated Twists, right and left

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana ~ Pigeon, right and left

Matsyasana ~ Fish

Viparita Karani ~ Legs Up The Wall

What is Yoga?

What is Yoga? ~ Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Alistair Shearer

Yoga is a way to restore our lost wholeness, our integrity as complete human beings, by unifying the personality around a center that is silent, unbounded, spacious, and joyful. 

The techniques of yoga are methods of purifying the nervous system so that it can reflect a greater degree of consciousness and our lives can become an increasingly positive force in the world.

If these techniques are correctly practiced, the whole nervous system is revitalized – the body enjoys better health and more energy, the rested mind is freed from the burden of past experience, and perception is restored to its primal freshness.  Thought and activity become coherent and integrated, life becomes richer and more fulfilling.

Yoga is not a religion.  Its techniques, however, will gradually lead you to the direct experience of those truths on which religion rests.  Yoga is a catalyst that allows us to grow in whichever direction is natural and life supporting.

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When Darkness Appears

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When and how has your dark side appeared to you?

What behaviors, words, and thoughts have arisen?

What were the triggering situations?

What did you do about it?

Should you have better control the next time that darkness is accessed?

How can you transform “negative” feelings of anger, depression, greed, guilt, jealousy, shame, etc. into something useful?

Yes, it is lovely to focus on light and beauty. The fact that we can consciously reprogram our brains is fascinating and extremely useful. Focusing on so-called “positive” thoughts is a great way to unlearn some of the lies we’ve been told or told ourselves inadvertently. We can transform wrong beliefs to engage in a more productive and enjoyable life. 

The truth is, though, we are all made up of both light and darkness. What we often tend to perceive as “good” and “bad.” One cannot exist without the other. We see this reflected everywhere in nature and in the people around us. We judge some emotions as better than others just because they feel good. They are, however, all a part of life. And it’s not healthy to deny our emotions or thoughts even if they are ugly or frightening.

Becoming aware of our true nature is the essence of yoga. That way we can gain some control over emotions and thoughts that may lead to harmful actions and words. We can free ourselves from the stories we make up in our heads, which can seem so true. We can learn to deal with triggering situations and people in a more peaceful manner so we are not left with regret or other “bad” emotions growing inside of us. We can look at ourselves and others with love and compassion rather than judgment or fear.

The Yamas and Niyamas (the first two of the eight limbs of yoga as laid out by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras) deal with how we behave and interact within ourselves and with the world around us. Self-study is a very important aspect of yoga. I offer the questions above as a starting point for self-study. Meditating on similar types of questions can help us become our best selves. Taking mental notes, or much better, keeping a journal, can help us become aware of our reactions. We become aware of the transitoriness of thoughts. We realize emotions arise and then subside. We become more aware of the world around us and hopefully grow into an agent of peace not disaster.

Banish Stress: Amygdala Reprogramming


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Stress causes all sorts of health havoc. It’s important to know how to handle its inevitable triggers. I learned this following “amygdala reprogramming” exercise from a doctor of public health. Just an idea to try the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation. 

The amygdala is in the lower part of the brain and it stimulates the body’s fight-or-flight response. When we are exposed to something upsetting, we have about 5 seconds to decide how we’ll respond to that stress. If we don’t do anything, the amygdala will release its stimulation causing the adrenals to release stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Your blood sugars will shoot up as well as your heart rate. Your immune system will be depressed. Your blood is more likely to clot – leading to greater stroke/heart attack risk, etc. These are only a few of many examples of the negative health effects of stress.

Studies have shown we can block that amygdala response. We only have 5 seconds to make that decision. Energy levels and sense of wellbeing often dramatically improve once people start automatically stopping that response. As soon as you experience a stressful situation, physically put your hands out and say “stop” – with a smile on your face. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the situation. The whole negative experience goes away.

Consider experimenting with this exercise when faced with stressful situations in your life. Follow these steps exactly – the physical movement, out loud command, and smile are important. The concept is controlling how your mind works instead of going through the autonomic responses, letting your mind control you. 

Further information:

Brain Retraining: Amygdala and Limbic System Desensitization

Scientific Research Validates The Linden Method’s Science
A revolution in neuroscience:
Reprogram
ming the subconscious mind

What is Amygdala Retraining?

Excited to Announce New Yoga Classes!

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The Body Knows & The Body Remembers

Body Memory

Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. 1995. “Women Who Run With the Wolves.” Chapter 7: Joyous Body: The Wild Flesh (p. 214).

New Moon Ritual: Fertile Darkness

With the June new moon approaching, I’d like to dedicate this post to the new moon ritual.  

new moonhttp://i1.wp.com/www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/double_conjunction.jpg

People throughout history have been guided by the moon.  From its role in the creation of calendars and tidal charts to its reputation for its effect on our emotions, behavior, and energy levels, the moon has always had a strong influence on humans.  Various rituals have been performed throughout history during different phases of the moon.  New and full moons are very powerful times for reflection and celebration, respectively.  However small or large the ritual, I try to pay attention to those times.  Living life this way can make us feel more alive and grateful.  It reminds us of why we we are here and what we are evolving toward and helps us get there.

The new moon is a powerful time for meditation and taking stock of our lives and where we are headed.  The new moon is an opportunity to initiate projects, intentions, and goals.  One of my teachers calls it “fertile darkness.”  The new moon is a great time to plant the seeds of intention.  We think about what we are moving toward and what specific steps we need to take to get there.  And then we seal that intention with asana practice and meditation.  Here are some photos from the last new moon for inspiration (I was lucky enough to be at the beach at the time…)!  

mandalas in the sand

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fire in wood on beach

Happy June New Moon on Tuesday!  I would love your comments and stories if you’re interested in sharing, please!

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Yin Yoga Session for Relaxation and Fluidity

Yin Yoga is a balancing practice that perfectly complements the Yang Yoga practice familiar to more of us.  It also brings balance to other more active pursuits such as running, biking, hiking, and various sports.  It not only allows deep relaxation and a time for going inward, it can make you a better athlete by rejuvenating the body after intense muscular exertion.  Yin yoga helps the body age gracefully and with less pain.  It increases flexibility and calms the mind.

Yin yoga, as the name suggests, is a passive rather than active practice.  It focuses on stretching the deep connective tissue such as ligaments, tendons, bones, cartilage and fascia.  It lubricates the joints and increases our natural range of motion.  Energetically, yin yoga enhances the flow of Prana or Chi.  Like acupuncture, it removes blockages and opens up the meridians (the channels in Chinese medicine that conduct energy throughout the body).

In yin yoga, we hold poses for an extended period of time – usually about 2 to 5 minutes but sometimes up to 20 minutes.  This time is the magic ingredient of the yin practice.  It allows the deep connective tissue release that is so necessary for a healthy body and mind but often ignored.  We are always using the muscles and rarely do we just give them time to relax.  In yin yoga, we do just that.  We assume a shape without being too strict about alignment.  We come into the shape, which looks slightly different for everyone based on bone structure and flexibility, and relax all the muscles around that shape.

It can be very difficult to hold the poses for an extended period.  Stronger poses like Dragon are demanding both physically and mentally.  Part of the practice is to come to a comfortable edge where we feel challenged but don’t overdo it.  Discomfort is OK but pain is not.  If you feel any sharp, electrical pain, immediately back off or come out of the pose completely.  A dull ache, however, is completely normal and healthy in some poses.  For example, when we hold Sphinx or Seal for an extended period, we feel that dull ache in our lower back/sacral area.  This is normal after a period of lower back compression.  Coming out of the poses we sometimes feel hesitant or weak in the area that has been stressed.  This is normal and will subside soon.

Yin yoga also lends itself beautifully to meditative practices.  Each pose can become a mini-meditation and we can try either one or several meditative techniques throughout the practice.  The physical difficulty I mentioned in staying in a strong pose – or sometimes simply boredom or irritation at feeling stuck – can be a great opportunity to non-judgmentally observe our aversions and overcome them.  We can hope to bring this attitude to our daily life when we encounter situations we dislike.  Instead of becoming alarmed, we can become comfortable with our discomfort or lack of control over outer circumstances.  We can use the yin poses to observe the breath and bodily sensations, or to internally repeat a mantra.  There is no limit to the creative possibilities.  And if you prefer to just relax into the physical postures without trying to meditate, you’re still hugely benefiting your body and your mind.

Here is an approximately hour-long sequence you can try.  I use a timer in each pose and suggest 5 minutes per pose except where specifically noted otherwise.  Obviously feel free to change it up to accommodate your own needs!  If you have any questions, please let me know.  Love & Health to you all!

Seated Meditation

find a comfortable seated position and with all the muscles relaxed around an upright spine, close the eyes and focus on the breath

Butterfly

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Wide-legged forward fold

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Sphinx

sphinx

Seal

seal

Child’s (1 minute)

childs

Baby Dragon/Low Lunge & Hamstring stretch both sides

babydragon

hamstringstretch

Reclining Hero/Saddle Pose

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or go deeper (after a minute or two in the above version)

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Child’s (1 minute)

Anahatasana/Heart-Melting

anahatasana

Full Forward Bend

pashimotanasana

Shavasana

shavasana