Back home.

Yesterday I got on my yoga mat for the first time in almost 6 weeks. The past couple of months have been difficult dealing with family health issues, my husband getting into an cycling accident and several other curveballs that have come our way.
My yoga mat has always felt like home. But when things got really hard for me, that was the last place I wanted to be. And I couldn’t understand why. How could I turn my back on something that I love with all my heart.
I couldn’t even bring myself to roll my mat out at home.
I wanted nothing to do with it.
At all.
I questioned it and questioned it and I just couldn’t grasp why.
Getting back on my mat I finally understand. Yoga is the one thing that truly connects me. Mind, body, heart and soul. All of it. And it connects me to everything around me. It’s what makes everything make sense. It makes time seem to not exist. It aligns every part of me and shows me my own truth. It forces me to deal with my issues and to let them go once they have taught me what I’m supposed to learn. It shows me that everything is going to be okay. No matter what.
And I guess I just didn’t want to see those things. Maybe I wasn’t ready to deal with everything yet. Maybe I didn’t want to let go. Im guilty of suppressing things way deep down and not wanting to face them in hopes that they will magically go away. When you’re caught up in your own mental thunderstorms it’s really hard to see past the pain. And to allow yourself to do the things that you know will bring you joy. It’s like we punish ourselves or something. Or maybe I’m the only one who does that.
Regardless, I am grateful for a great friend for guiding me through my practice and for Soul Yoga for always being my home.

Love and devotion 

I received Danielle Laporte’s daily truthbomb this morning in my inbox. It read: “Spiritual practice won’t make you super human. But it will help you fall in love with your humanity.”

  
That got me to thinking about this whole spiritual practice business. I live in Oklahoma, which if you don’t know, is right smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt. If you speak of anything spiritual, it better be Baptist and have to do with going to church on Sunday mornings. Anything else is hogwash and frowned upon. However, I was not raised in the church and I’ve never read the Bible (I’ve read parts, but definitely not in its entirety).

My spiritual practice didn’t start until I was in my early 20s and I began doing yoga. After falling in love with the physical part of the practice, I wanted to learn everything there was to learn about the spiritual side of yoga. I started reading tons of books, went to lectures, watched documentaries, and completely immersed myself in as much as I possible could.

Ever since I was a young girl I have always prayed to God. However, I was never really sure what that God looked like or the extent of what “God” embodied. I just prayed. Once I started learning more and more about different kinds of Gods and the various religions, I realized that I didn’t really connect with any spiritual box that people try to fit themselves into. I’m not Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Methodist or any other category. I’m just me. I’m understanding more and more that my spiritual practice doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s idea/expectation. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s so crazy how defensive people get about this whole thing. I mean, wars have been fought on the matter. Seriously people, are we missing the point here or what?

I pray, meditate and I even pull Angel Cards every single morning. That is my ritual. I wake up in the mornings and make a cup of tea, pull my daily angel card, sit and meditate for about 10 minutes and finish up with my prayers. I do this every single morning. From there I pray all throughout the day. My prayers are in the form of exercise (whether I’m on a trail run or sweating it out in a Barre3 class), journaling, practicing yoga, driving down the road, sitting on the couch watching a movie or drinking wine with friends. My prayers come in all shapes and sizes and to me they are a form of self-love.

Spiritual practice doesn’t have to fit any mold or idea because it’s personal to how I connect with God. And some days, God is a She. Some days I feel God and others I don’t. Some days I use the word God and others it’s Spirit, Source or Love. And it’s all good. Its devotion and that is the key. Being committed to the practice and remaining open to what it brings into my life. And I’ll be honest, most days I am just praying for love. Love over fear, greed, judgments, comparisons, negativity, hate, etc. To see love. To feel love. To be love. To give love. Just love. Because in the end, love is the ultimate spiritual practice and we could all use a little more of it in our lives.

Choose love. Be love.

xo

Melott

Be YOU! 

I don’t idolize many people but there is something about Danielle LaPorte that intrigues me. Perhaps it’s her sassy attitude or that fact that she isn’t afraid to say what she thinks. Ever. Regardless, that woman knows how to light a fire under people and get them to go for what it is they desire in life. 

This quote from “Firestarter Sessions” is one of those quotes that speaks to the depths of my soul:

So many people are looking for it: their Big Life Purpose.
Becoming YOU is your purpose. 
YOU are the very purpose of your existence. Realizing what lights your fire and floats your boat-that’s your life purpose. What else could it be? 
If it gives you true joy (not the seemingly happy high that is fleeting, but the reliable, always-there kind of satisfaction) to rock that guitar, to make people laugh, to discover the world, to make things a little more beautiful wherever you go, to feed, to stir it up, to clean it up, to execute the plan, to bank the cash, to be a compassionate citizen, to explore nonstop, or purely to seek pleasure…….then, that’s your life purpose! 
Your life purpose is what you say it is. 

So, ask yourself. Are you living your life purpose?? If not, what are you going to do to change that right now?  Stop waiting for your life to be how you want it to be.  The fire has been lit…….the time is now!! 

Bliss Jammin’ 

  

My two most absolute favorite books in the entire world are The Desire Map and Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte. If you’ve never heard of Danielle, your world is about to change. Drastically. Or at least mine did the minute I picked up my copy of The Desire Map. 

Let’s rewind to about a year and a half ago. I had just become a lululemon athletica ambassador and was fairly new to teaching yoga. (Why on earth lululemon wanted me, I have no clue!). I sat down with some of their employees as well as the other ambassadors and we did a visions and goals exercise. I had never really taken a step back to look at what my future goals were. In fact, I didn’t even have a clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. At first I was stressed out about being vulnerable enough to write my goals on paper for others to see. 

I thought to myself, “Crap! I’m going to be held accountable here. What if I don’t succeed?”

Long story short, I started to do a lot of fun daydreaming about what my future could look like. I eventually wrote out my 1, 5 and 10 year goals for lululemon to display in their store with all the others employees. I kept all my goals pretty low key. It was almost as if I was scared to dream too big. I stayed conservative. Cookie cutter. Boring. 

At that time, a good friend introduced me to Danielle and her books and since I was already pretty giddy about the vision and goals stuff I had just done, I decided to dive right into the books. The Desire Map is all about setting goals based on how you want to feel. You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing the feeling that you hope achieving that goal will give you. Danielle’s words are incredible powerful and motivating and she really gives you that swift kick in the butt that everyone needs to push them past where they want to be. That kind of uncomfortable, holy crap, this could actually happen place that we don’t allow ourselves to step into very often. 

The book leads you through a pretty indepth exercise of determining how you want to feel in multiple areas of your life: 

  • livelihood & lifestyle
  • body & wellness
  • creativity & learning 
  • relationships & society 
  • essence & spirituality

You come to learn what your core desired feelings (CDFs) are and then you can use those to determine what actions you need to take (i.e. goals/intentions) in order to feel exactly the way you want to feel. 

I learned my CDFs are:

  • Open to receive
  • Ignited 
  • Balanced
  • Confident
  • Abundant bliss
  • Connected 

And once I got clear on exactly how I wanted to feel I could set intentions for the future in order to ensure that 1,5,10,20,50 years from now, I will feel exactly the way I want to feel. This was a HUGE game changer for me. It completely shifted my thinking. Pre Desire Map, I was just writing down things that sounded good. Some were things I felt I needed to do in order to make others happy or some of the goals just sounded like they might be fun. But a chunk of them were not aligned with my core desired feelings, at all. 

I have since read the Desire Map and Fire Starter Sessions three times and am constantly inspired by the words in each book. I have crossed off multiple goals in the past 18 months and each time I do, the fire just burns deeper and deeper. There is something incredibly rewarding to look back at goals or intentions you have set for yourself and be able to say “done!”. Cross it off the list, move on to the next big thing and keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop pursuing what it is that lights you up. That thing that gives you butterflies in your belly. The ideas that keep you up at night because you are so damn excited to share them with the world. Do it! What is stopping you? I can tell you that the only thing getting in your way, is you. You can do anything that you set out to do. Guaranteed. 

Set some time for yourself to think about how you truly want to feel. Light a candle, pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on some groovy music and get to know yourself and your CDFs. Once you determine what these are (I would suggest to just pick a few) marinate on them for a while. Days. Weeks. Months. Meditate on them. Write in your journal about them. Put them on post it notes around your computer or on your bathroom mirror. Look at them every day. Multiple times a day. Once you’ve determined that these feelings are completely aligned with how you want to feel with all your heart, you can start to determine what you need to accomplish (aka your goals) in order to meet your CDFs head on. So dream. Dream as big as possible. Make a plan and live each day getting one step closer to being completely aligned with your core desired feelings. Ride that incredible wave of bliss. This is your story. You get to decide how it’s written. 

Whenever you start guiding yourself by caring about how you feel, you
start guiding yourself back into your Stream of Source Energy, and that’s
where your clarity is; that’s where your joy is; that’s where your flexibility
is; that’s where your balance is; that’s where your good ideas come from.
That’s where all the good stuff is accessed from.
—Abraham-Hicks

To fail or not to fail

I recently read somewhere that only 8% of people who set New Years Resolutions actually have success. Which means that everyone else is a failure.

Failure. Such an ugly word, right? I used to think so but now I am kind of in love with it.

I remember when I was growing up, failure was something that we were taught to never let happen. We were to always be the best at everything we did. Our parents and teachers always led us to believe that our mission is life was to make good grades, go to college, meet our soul mate, get a great job, have kids, etc. etc. etc. In that order, just like that, with everything being perfect. There is no room for failure anywhere in that plan.

But, life happens. And so does failure. Sometimes more often that not. Life is not always sunshine and roses. That’s the reality of the human condition. And trust me, I have had my fair share of failures in my short 31 years here. I’ll admit, there are few that I am not proud of but, there are some that have truly taught me so much and I have used those experiences to evolve into the person I am today.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” ~ JK Rowling

Failure can be driven by many different circumstances. Far too often we are the ones setting ourselves up for our own failures. We place an extraordinary amount of pressure on ourselves to reach our goals or live a lifestyle that is not in alignment with who we really are.

Once we can be real about the ideas and plans we have for ourselves and how we truly, realistically, want to our lives we can avoid so many of these inevitable failures.

Back to my original point. I am kind of in love with failing. Why? Well, how are we ever to learn anything about ourselves if we never experience it? How are we to know the truth about who we really are if we never allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to allow failure to happen? Failure can be harsh. It can hurt not just on the surface but that hurt that goes deep into your bones and settles in for an extended stay. It can feel like your heart has been ripped out. It can be gut wrenching, soul sucking, pain. But when we are open to what we can learn from our failures and commit to stay connected to our truth, our failures will begin to minimize in size and occurrence.

So, you’ve failed. What now?

Ask yourself why you failed. Evaluate the situation. Get clear on what happened. Who were you in the situation? Were you fully present giving it your all or were you only half committed? What changes need to be made to prevent you from failing again? Is this something that you are truly ready to commit to? If so, make a new plan, a realistic one, and recommit. Brush the dirt off your knees and make this goal your bitch. Just because we fall doesn’t mean we cant get back up and finish the race. Take what you have learned from your experience and apply it toward your goals.

Make a commit to remain open. You might fail again. And again. And again. That’s the beautiful thing about life. We are not defined by our failures but by the person we become because of them. Never let any experience occur, good or bad, without taking something from it. 

Continue to Grow. Expand. Evolve.

Dreaming, thinking, wishing and hoping.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is more people who come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman. 

So what is it that makes you come alive? What gets your heart racing with excitement? What are you so passionate about that it keeps you up at night? We all have something that really lights our fire. So, ask yourself. What is it for you?

The past year I have become obsessed with goal setting. It all started last fall when I became an ambassador for lululemon athletica. During a meeting with the staff and other ambassadors, we were asked to list our vision and goals for the next one, five and ten years. We were to write our vision and goals down so they could be posted in the store for everyone to see. I’m almost embarrassed to say it but this gave me anxiety. I mean heart racing, sweaty armpits, stomach-dropping anxiety. Like anyone else I have always had goals and plans for the future, but never once did I take the time to mediate on my life years down the road and solidify and broadcast what those goals were.

I took my sheet with me and stewed on my goals for weeks. I found it hard to write them down and make a commitment that other people were able to see and hold me accountable to. What if I didn’t achieve my goals? What if I fail? What will others think of me if I don’t succeed? But then I realized, who really cares? These are my goals, nobody else’s. They are all about me and although I have a vision for my future, that vision evolves just as much as I do. Looking back at my one-year goals, I was actually able to obtain most of them; which honestly is a pretty dang good feeling. These goals were to pay my house off, attend two yoga workshops, read two books a month and establish a daily meditation practice.

Since then I have read numerous books and follow many blogs on goal setting. This stuff really gets my motor going. I can’t get enough. I could spend hours daydreaming on things that I want to achieve in my lifetime. Some are small goals that I can achieve daily and others I will spend my whole life working towards. That’s the really great thing about goal setting, even though we are able to check things off the list, it’s ever growing. There really is no end as long as we are passionate and motivated to succeed.

Evidence shows that when we write down our goals and share them with others, we are able to hold ourselves more accountable, we can clarify what it is that we want to accomplish and we are able to see and track our progress. This allows us to get closer to kicking the crap out of our goals.

So, now its time to ask yourself, what are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? Goal setting can get a little overwhelming. Here are a few tips for getting started:

  1. Start small and go from there. Allow yourself to set obtainable goals which will continue to feed your fire.
  1. Be realistic with your goals. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Enough said.
  1. Dream big. There are no rights or wrongs when setting your goals. Only you know what you are capable of and the world is your oyster, my friend. Dream as big as your heart desires (but keep in mind #2).
  1. Understand that you might not be able to obtain every single goal you set. Life happens and sometimes things get in the way of what we want to accomplish. Don’t look it as a failure, chalk it up to a life lesson, dust your shoulders off and move on. But, don’t give up on something that your heart truly desires. You know the saying; if at first you don’t succeed, try again. And don’t stop trying until you get what it is you want.
  1. Recognize and accept that although others may have the same goals as you, we are all walking different paths in life. Even though you may have the same goals, the means for obtaining them may be entirely different. Be happy for those who have achieved their goals prior to you and be patient. Your day will come when it’s supposed to.
  1. Share your goals with others. Help each other stay on track and be accountable. Share what has worked for you and want hasn’t. Motivate each other. Share your successes and what you’ve learned along the way. Inspire others and be inspired.
  1. Journal. Journal. Journal. Write down your goals. Meditate on them. Watch them evolve and then journal some more. Keep the ideas flowing.
  1. Finally, have fun. Goal setting is a process of learning about who you are and what you want out of life. Embrace whatever feelings or emotions come up during the process. It’s a journey, but one where the risks are totally worth the rewards. Enjoy, my friends!

I’d love to hear from you and what your goals are! Leave a comment below or email me and share your stories at lmelott@thislandyoga.com. Keep on dreaming!!!!

Yoga for Cyclists

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Stretch out those muscles that get super tight from logging numerous miles on the bike. These poses will help unwind the spine, open the chest and shoulders, and relieve tightness in the hamstrings, glutes and hips. Do these stretches after your ride and you will be sure to find a little more freedom in those overworked and under utilized muscles used in cycling. Be gentle and listen to your body. Try not to go too deep into the stretches and take breaks when needed.

Bridge pose
Stretches: hip flexors, quads, chest and shoulders
Benefits: Calms the body, alleviates stress and rejuvenates tired legs. This pose also opens the front side of the body, increases flexibility in the spine, tones the back side of the body and releases the lower back
How to: Lie on your back. Bend your knees and walk your feet in directly under your knees. Extend your arms long next to you and reach your fingertips towards your heels. Begin to press your heels into the mat and lift your hips. Stay for 10-15 breaths. When your ready, slowly lower your hips back to the ground and it may feel good here to pull your knees into your chest and rock from side to side giving the lower back a gentle massage.

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Reclining Pigeon Pose
Stretches: Low back and outer hips
Benefits: can help prevent knee and hip pain by opening hips and stretching the IT band
How to: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on mat. Take your right ankle and cross it over your left knee. If this is enough for you then stay right here. For a deeper stretch, lift your left off the ground and wrap your fingers around the back of your left leg. Keep your tailbone and your shoulders on the mat. Stay as long you want in this stretch then repeat on the other side.

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Reclined supine twist
Stretches: back muscles and glutes
Benefits: Increases flexibility in spine and back muscles
How to: lie on your back and bend your knees taking your legs in a tabletop position stacking them over your hips. Extend your arms long into a T or you can bend your elbows if that feels better. Gently let your knees fall to the right. Your knees might not touch the floor, which is fine, but keep your shoulders resting on the mat. If it fees okay you might take your gaze over your left shoulder. Stay for a few breaths and then switch sides.

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Bound Angle Pose
Stretches: inner thighs, hips and groin
Benefits: Strengthens and improves flexibility in inner thighs, hips, knees and groins.
How to: from a seated position place the soles on your feet together and let your knees drop towards the floor. If your knees are above your hips, sit on a blanket or block. You can also place blocks under your knees for support. For a deeper stretch, walk your feet closer to your pelvis. For a less intense stretch, take your feet farther from you. You can stay here or start to fold your torso over your legs keeping your spine long. Keep your sit bones pressing firmly into the mat as you take this stretch. Stay for a few breaths and gently release.

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Toe stretch:
Stretches: fascia that covers the sole of the foot and extends all the way up the legs
Benefits: Opens toes and feet and strengthens ankles
How to: sit on your shins with feet together and tuck your toes under. Spread your toes apart giving some space between each one. This is an intense stretch so try to focus more on your breath keeping your inhales and exhales deep and even. You can rest your hands on your thights or take your hands to your heart. Try to stay for 10 breaths and take breaks when you need to.

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Top of foot stretch
Benefits: stretches top of foot
Stretches: foot
How to: from the previous stretch release the tops of your feet to the ground. Place your hands in front of your knees. Begin to press your toes and hands into the ground and gently lift you knees. The higher you lift your knees, the more intense the stretch will be. Stay as long as you can and slowly lower your shins back down.

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Wide leg forward fold
Benefits: Opens up the backs of the legs, the adductors and outer edges of lower legs as well as releases tension throughout spine
Stretches: inner thighs, gluteus, hamstrings
How to: from a standing position take your legs into a wide V stance and turn your feet parallel to each other. Bring your hands to your hips and lift your chest towards the sky as you inhale. On your exhale, engage your core and start to fold forward. Tailbone reaches up as head moves away from hips and towards the ground. Keep your knees soft and allow your torso to completely relax here letting your head be heavy. Keep your quadriceps engaged to protect your hamstrings and shift your weight forward taking it out of your heels. You can slowly lower your hands to the mat for support. For additional support you can place your hands on a block or you can use a helmet or water bottle if the ground seems too far away. To release, take your hands to your hips, bend your knees slightly and lift your torso.

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Legs up the wall
Benefits: allows legs to relax and encourages the chest to open and the back to release
Stretches: backs of legs
How to: Lie on your back and walk your legs up the wall as you bring your hips closer to the wall. You can place a bolster, blanket or pillow under your back for support if needed. Stay here for a few minutes and if you want to get deeper into your groin, start to take your legs away from each other. When you are ready to come out of the pose, walk your feet back down the wall and roll to your right side. Take a couple of breaths here before pressing yourself up.

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