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.

Living our practice 

I had a teacher a few years back who changed my practice drastically and completely altered the way I live my life (on and off my mat). She was one of those teachers who always taught exactly what I needed. Like she could read my mind (or my body). Her classes always left me wanting more and it was her who convinced me to take the leap and attend teacher training. One thing she taught us that I will always carry with me is that we must “live the practice”. She inspired us to put skin and bones on the intentions we set for our physical practice and to carry that with us as we roll up our mats and go out into the world as we live our lives. 

This is the hard part.

It’s easy to set an intention for a brief time when we are completely focused on one thing. In a yoga class setting we are taught to be mindful and focused and we are constantly drawn back to the breath and our reason for being on our mats (through the guidance and encouragement of an instructor). But what about when we leave the studio? What happens when we are no longer dressed in our cute little lululemon pants, surrounded by like-minded people moving and breathing together as one collective unit with someone telling us what to do? What happens when we are thick in the shit of living our lives? Where we have to deal with stress, deadlines, media stories that impact us on a deep emotional level, conflict, etc.

This is where 99% of our practice actually occurs. You see, the postures, or asanas, we do in a 60, 75, 90-minute yoga class are just a small fraction of our practice. We do the asanas and meditation practices to quiet and calm the mind in order to operate from a space of consciousness and openness. This expands our ability to respond to situations internally and externally rather than react to them. So that when someone does something that we don’t necessarily agree with or perhaps makes us angry, we can look at them as if we were looking in the mirror at a reflection of ourselves. It helps us to extend love and compassion to those who challenge us, question us and those who really push our buttons.
So what does it mean to “live the practice”? What is the practice of yoga all about?

It’s being intentional and doing things with love, compassion and acceptance.

It’s extending kindness towards others and to ourselves.

To stop for a brief moment to really focus on our breath whether it’s while driving our car or in the middle of a long run.

Waking up each morning and committing to being the best version of ourselves we can possibly be.

Making a conscious decision to live our lives from a place of peace and harmony with ourselves and with others.

To commit to not causing harm. To not steal or take more than our share. To release judgements and comparisons.

To find a mind, body and soul connection so that we can significantly increase our quality of life.

 
When we commit to the practice on and off our mats, and truly put in the work, we become motivated by our internal awareness rather than our external distractions.

You don’t ever even have to step foot on a mat to have a yoga practice. In fact, you are more than likely already doing yoga now, you just don’t realize it. You can tap into the practice when you are shopping for groceries, sitting at your desk at work or even when you are having a heated conversation with someone and you stop for two seconds and realize that what you thought you were going to say might actually not be the right to say.

To me, doing yoga (on or off the mat) is really just about being a good person. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be super deep and spiritual. It’s just about extending lovingkindness as much as possible. And nobody is perfect. I would be lying if I said I never spoke badly about someone or engaged in gossip. I have my fair share of issues that I have to work on but I know that at the end of the day I am doing the best I can. I am always striving to better myself. And that’s the point. Just working toward living a live where you can look yourself in the mirror and say “I am enough and so is everybody else”. Choosing love rather than fear or hate. And always being a light for someone else.

Just chill out. 

I’ve made meditation a part of my daily routine for quite a few years now. It’s something that is very important to me and one thing that I try not to sacrifice. Of course, I’m only human and I’ve gone through times in the past where I fell short of my daily meditation goal. At times it’s been days and even months between each one.

 When I went to Florida for my Yoga Medicine training, Tiffany Cruikshank reignited that spark and inspired me to reconnect with my practice. In our training we would have daily meditations that would last 20-30 minutes. The first couple of times we did this I had a really hard time turning it all off and being in the moment. But once I allowed myself to surrender and to just be in the moment, I was able to relax and find stillness and peace. 

I forgot just how much I loved my practice and how incredibly important it is for me to just sit down and shut up for a bit. Other than when I’m sleeping, meditation is the only other time when I can turn off that little voice inside my head. The one with the constant dialogue. The one that never wants to shut up and at times can drive me close to insanity. As I’ve continued with this practice I’ve noticed some amazing side effects:

Mental Clarity

Calmness 

The ability to observe without feeling inclined to react

Greater awareness of my thoughts, actions, responses

The ability to make decisions based on how it will truly make me feel. 

Increased attention span.

Better sleep at night. 

Deeper connection to myself. 

More love and acceptance of myself and others. 

I can’t say enough about just how incredible a regular meditation practice is for your mind, body and soul. 

Here are some steps to establish a practice of your own. Remember, this should be tailored to what works for you. Play around with it and see what you think. 

1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted. This really can be anywhere. Anywhere in the world. I have a room in my house that I’ve dedicated as my space to chill out. I prefer to light candles and sometimes diffuse oils or burn an incense but it really is your preference. 

2. Come into a comfortable posture that you can be still in. This can be seated, lying down or you might even use some yoga props or blankets to prop yourself up. I prefer seated with my legs crossed and my hands resting in my lap. Some people advise against lying down as you might end up falling asleep, but my thoughts are if you are relaxed enough to fall asleep, great. The point of this is to chill out and quiet the mind. If you fall asleep, clearly you needed it. But again, all of this is personal preference. 

3. Set a timer. I advise this especially as you are first getting into the routine of meditating. There are many different smartphone apps you can use. I really like Insight Timer. It’s free and very user friendly. Plus, if you’re a type A personality, you can track your practice. If you’re not interested in an app, simply use the timer function on your phone or just a kitchen timer works great too. If you are using your phone, be sure to switch it over to airplane mode so you don’t get distracted. I would recommend starting at 5 mins and increasing your time from there. Trust me, starting out, 5 mins feels like a long time to be still and quiet! 

4. Relax and Breathe. Once you are set up and you are comfortable, close your eyes. Draw your awareness inward. Start to notice the breath. Observe as it moves through the body. There are many different ways you can meditate. I encourage you to find what resonates with you. I really like to either count my breath or I repeat a mantra. One that is special and that I can connect with. This doesn’t have to be anything super complex. 

Some examples are: 

I breathe in love, I breathe out fear

I am love, I am light

I am strong, I am open

I am enough, I am enough 

Make this your own. That’s the only way you will stick with it. And if you notice that your mind starts to wander (and it will, trust me) draw the focus back to the breath. Every single time. Don’t get frustrated. Just observe the thoughts and allow them to go just as quickly as they come. And start small. This practice takes a lot of dedication and love. If you allow yourself to get upset or frustrated then you’ve lost the point of this. It’s about relaxing the body and stilling the mind. Finding just a nugget of peace in our very busy lives. Recognize how truly fortunate you are to have the opportunity to spend just a few moments in silence for self reflection and self love and appreciation. You might even get a journal and keep track of your practice and the things that come up mentally and emotionally for you. Have fun with this! Explore! 

Just enjoy the journey. Don’t focus so much on the destination. 

Namaste. 

 

The core of

your true self.

let go of all

the pretending

and the becoming

you’ve done just

to belong. Curl up

with your rawness

and come home.

you don’t have to

find yourself;

you just have to

let yourself in.

-d antionette foy

Trust the Process

I am a control freak. There, I said it.

I like things to go my way. When they don’t, I tend to get upset, frustrated, annoyed and angry. I might even shed some tears.

That is why I have deemed 2015 the year I allow myself to work towards letting go and trusting the process.

That’s it. That is my mantra. “Trust the process”. Because everything is a process and without trust in allowing things to be as they should, we tend to exert unnecessary energy in worrying about the outcome and potentially trying to make something be what its not supposed to be.

My husband and I are in the process of finding a new home. We have outgrown our current house and are ready to upgrade and settle down and eventually start our family. Buying a house is downright stressful. There is no hiding that. You think you find the one you want, you put an offer down and out of the clear blue sky something comes up. When buying a house, something ALWAYS comes up. The bank wants more paperwork, the seller is being a pain in the ass, there are issues with the inspection, etc., etc., etc. My personality is such that I want to find a house, close on the house, and move in. Now. I want to find my dream home and get it done. But that’s not how life works. It’s a process and one that takes time.

Patience has never been my strong suit.

Which is why my focus, intention, goal, resolution, whatever you want to call it, is to Trust. Trust the Process. Trust that things will work out exactly as they should and understanding that no matter how much I want to or try to control the situation, that wont change the outcome.

This has been huge in my yoga practice as well. You see all of these incredibly flexible yogis all over Facebook and Instagram who make full splits or some crazy arm balance look like a piece of cake. Seriously, how do they do that?!?!?! I get on my mat and the instant I get into my first warrior 3 I feel like someone has a vice grip on my glutes because my muscles are so tight. Or I get into standing splits and I can barely lift my back foot off the mat. This is where I really have to release control and to find patience in my body. I constantly repeat to myself “You are enough. Your body is beautiful, strong and exactly how it should be.”

The postures are a part of the process of working towards opening the body and embracing where we are at in our bodies. What comes up emotionally is the process of opening our hearts and minds to our truth and finding peace in that. Every day holds a completely different story for me on my mat. But, when I allow myself to show up, be present and trust the process I leave my mat connected to who I really am. I leave everything behind and allow myself to be open and accepting of myself and others.

Yoga is a process.

Life is a process.

Finding our truth is a process.

Everything is a process.

I will remain open.

I will trust the process.

Bring it on 2015!

Good things

Yoga for Athletes

yogis war 2

Yoga is very advantageous to all athletes and should be incorporated into everyone’s weekly workout routine. To learn more about all of the great benefits of a consistent yoga practice, see my blog post Why Every Athlete Should do Yoga. The sequence below will help strengthen and stretch your under and over utilized muscles as well as increase your joint and muscular flexibility, mental focus and balance. Spend as much time in each posture taking as many breaks as needed. Its not about forcing your body into each pose.  Ease into the stretch and back off when you start to feel any discomfort or pain.

Cat/Cow Stretches

Stretches: lower spine, hips, back and core

Benefits: opens chest, warms up the spine, relieves lower back pain and sciatica

How to: Start by kneeling on hands and knees. Align shoulders directly over the wrists and hips over the knees. As you inhale, lift your chest and tailbone to the ceiling while lowering your belly to the floor (cow pose). On your exhale, press your palms firmly into the floor as you round your spine drawing your navel in and taking your chin to your chest (cat pose). Repeat this back and forth motion between cat and cow pose as many times you would like and then return to a neutral spine.

Cow pose Cat pose

puppy finalPuppy Stretch

Stretches: spine and shoulders

Benefits: opens chest, strengthens and stretches arms, hips and upper back, relieves symptoms of stress and insomnia

How to: From your hands and knees position, begin to walk your hands towards the front of your mat. Keep your hips stacked over your knees. Drop your forehead to the floor and place a blanket or block underneath for more support. Let your neck relax but keep the arms active by lifting elbows away from the floor. To feel a nice stretch in your spine, press your hands more firmly into the mat stretching through your arms while pulling your hips back toward your heels. Stay for about a minute or so and then walk your hands back towards your legs, lift your chest and rest sitting on your shins.

Forearm Plank

Stretches: Shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches

Benefits: strengthens arms, legs and core

How to: Start on hands and knees tucking toes and stepping feet to the back of your mat. Lower down to forearms one at a time. Press inner forearms and elbows firmly against the floor. Pull shoulder blades onto the back, plug shoulders into socket, pull your frontal ribs in and keep your neck long. Press your thighs toward the ceiling but resist tailbone toward the floor and press heels towards the back of your mat. Stay as long as you can, resting when you need to. To modify this pose, lower the knees to the mat. Stay for a few breaths and then lower shins onto the mat and rest your hips on your heels.

Forearm plank Modified forearm plank

Standing Forward Fold

Stretches: hamstrings, calves, hips

Benefits: strengthens thighs and knees, calms the mind helping to relieve stress, reduces fatigue, and relieves headaches and insomnia

How to: From standing, as you exhale, bend forward from your hips keeping length in your spine and a soft bend in your knees. If possible, bring your fingertips to the ground or bend your elbows taking your hands to the opposite elbow. You can also use a water bottle, helmet or block to bring the ground a little closer to you. Stay for a minute or so and then bring your hands to your hips and lift your torso returning to a standing position.

Modified FF Standing ff

 

Low Lunge with back knee down

Stretches: Psoas (hip flexor) in back leg, hips

Benefits: Strengthens quads and glutes

How to: From a standing forward fold, step your left foot back as far as it will go and lower the knee to the ground. Keeping the right ankle and knee in line with each other, slide the left knee back enough to where you feel a comfortable stretch in your thigh and groin on that leg. Bring your hands to your right thigh and lift your torso upright. Allow your shoulders to stay relaxed and slowly start to extend your arms overhead. If this feels like too much, bring your hands back to your thigh or take your palms together in front of your heart. Stay here for a few breaths and then slowly release the hands down framing the right foot, tuck back toes under and return to your standing forward fold.

Low lunge Low lunge mod

Half Splits

Stretches: hamstrings, calves, hips, low backHalf Splits

Benefits: Strengthens hamstrings, relieves sciatica

How to: From the low lunge position, place on the ground on either side of the front foot. Begin to shift your hips towards the back heel. Flex the front foot so only the heel of the foot is on the ground. For a deeper stretch, walk hands forward and lift your chest. Modifications to this pose would be to take hands to your hips or blocks. Stay for a few breaths and then slowly switch sides.

Low lunge twist

Stretches: psoas (hip flexor) and hips

Benefits: strengthens quads and glutes, improves digestion and elimination, and relieves sciatica

How to: From the low lunge with left leg forward, place both hands on the ground between left foot. Press right hand into the ground and extend your left arm towards the ceiling opening your chest. You might stay here for a few breaths, then tuck your back toes and lift your knee taking this stretch a little deeper. Keep pressing the ground away with your right hand and draw your shoulder into socket with the right shoulder over the right wrist. Send your left hip back and lift your right thigh up. Breathe here for a few breaths and return to your standing forward fold.

Low lunge twistLow lunge twist full

Boat Pose

Stretches: spine, lower back and hamstrings

Benefits: strengthens core muscles, improves digestions, stimulates kidneys and thyroid, and strengthens lower back muscles

How to: From sitting, place feet and knees together as you bend your knees. Hold the back of your things, lengthen spine and slowly start to lean back without collapsing into your abdomen. Slowly lift your feet a few inches from the floor while engaging your core and lifting your chest. You can start to work towards lifting your shins a little higher taking them parallel to the ground and extend your arms forward. Stay as long as you like and slowly lower feet back to the ground.

Boat tabletop Mod boat

Seated Twist

Stretches: Shoulders, hamstrings, spine and hipsSeated twist

Benefits: massages abdominal organs, relieves backache and hip pain and strengthens spine

How to: From sitting, extend legs in front of you. Start to bend left knee and walk your left foot towards as close to your left sitting bone as possible. Keep right leg engaged and active and flex your right foot, pointing your toes back towards your hips. With an exhalation, rotate to the left and wrap right arm around your right thigh. Press left hand into the floor next to your left hip and lift your torso, keeping spine long. With your inhalations see if you can sit up a little taller and as you exhale, take your twist deeper. Stay for 5-10 breaths and slowly unwind returning to center extending your left leg.

After you’ve completed all of the postures, spend some time lying on your back, quieting your mind and resting your body.

savasana cropped

Why Every Athlete Should Do Yoga

As a yoga instructor, I get approached all the time by my cycling and running friends with questions about yoga. It seems that a majority of people are interested in the health benefits of yoga but are not convinced of how it will help them in their sport. They are more concerned with the fact that they are not flexible and are too intimated to give yoga a try, often times just dealing with any aches or pains in their bodies. For a lot of athletes who have intense training schedules, finding the time to incorporate yoga into their already busy day is often challenging. However, not much time is needed and the benefits to the athlete’s performance make it just as important as any other element of their training plan. Yoga is the perfect complement to any competitive athlete’s training and I think it is safe to say that without it, you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage and missing an opportunity to enhance your performance and reach your full potential.

Yoga has become more popular over the past decade and is now being recognized in the professional sport realm for its ability to aid in injury prevention and provide the athlete with the strength and flexibility needed to perform in their particular sport. Athletes such as Shaquille O’ Neal and LeBron James (legendary basketball players), Ray Lewis (linebacker for Baltimore Ravens), Mike Kryzewski (legendary Duke and USA national team basketball coach, Vernon Davis (tight end for San Francisco 4ers), Blake Griffin (forward for LA Clippers) and Tom Brady (Quarterback for New England Patriots) are just a few who have added yoga into their training regimen.

I personally started practicing yoga at a time when I was training for multiple half-marathons and competing in duathlons. I was running and cycling 5-6 days a week and felt yoga would be the perfect addition and would be great for cross training. Yoga was a complete game changer and I have been hooked ever since. Here are some of the many benefits that athletes can expect to experience by incorporating yoga into their weekly workout routines:

1. Improved Strength: With a routine and consistent practice, yoga is able to strengthen the athlete’s under-utilized muscle groups. With specific focus of these muscle groups, these supportive muscles are able to be strengthened enough to help aid in injury prevention and provide more power to the athlete during training and competition. Core strength is one of the most important, overlooked areas for most athletes. Since this area is the body’s center of gravity, it provides the foundation for all movement within the body. This can aid in lower back pain relief and add speed to the athletes sport by allowing the whole body to move in unison while exerting less energy. This will also improve posture and contribute to overall health.

2. Mental Control: Athletes have the amazing ability to push their bodies to the limits and although the physical benefits of yoga are huge, the mental control one can gain is nothing in comparison. There are times in the practice where the student must hold a pose and be completely still, while utilizing the strength of the muscles involved in the pose. This is when the mind starts to wander and it starts to flood the brain with thoughts, feelings or emotions that we just don’t want to deal with. This comes up even more so in the final posture, savasana, where the student finishes up their practice by lying on their back and resting for a few minutes. This should be a time of complete relaxation and stillness but for some, this is the most challenging part of the entire practice. Although an athlete can suffer physically during competition, the moment they are asked to be still is really when the hard work begins. If an athlete can get past the mental barriers holding them back in their practice, they will be that much stronger come competition time, giving them an advantage over their opponents.

3. Improved Flexibility: For most people this is the most well-known benefit of yoga and the one thing that prevents most people from ever stepping onto a yoga mat. Most think that their lack of flexibility will prevent them from ever being able to do yoga. You may not have any flexibility at all, but with a consistent practice, that will be a thing of the past. Stretching works to improves the joint and muscular flexibility. This is another excellent aid in injury prevention. Most athletes experience repetitive motions in their sport. The more we do those repetitive motions without stretching (and strengthening) the muscles, the greater the risk for injury to occur. Common overuse injuries include those involving the illiotibial band (IT band), knee, hamstrings, hip flexors, shoulders and lower back. These injuries often times are due to poor core strength, misalignment and lack of flexibility. Yoga helps to alleviate these issues in order to minimize and/or prevent injuries from occurring and sidelining the athlete. If injured, the athlete will be able to recover much quicker than they would have without yoga. Simple stretching before and after a workout is not enough. Most athletes are typically stretching the same muscles in the same direction every time. Yoga works the muscles and joints through all ranges of motion and not only targets the big muscle groups but the smaller ones as well which aid to support the primary muscles used in the athletes sport.

4. Balance: Balance postures can correct muscle imbalance and poor body mechanics. Better balance means more coordination, which will allow the athlete to have better control of their body. This will help with technique and form in their sport.

Now that you know some of the benefits of yoga, it’s time to start incorporating it into your weekly workout routine. If you don’t know where to get started, look for studios near your home or work, many offer various classes throughout the day for a small fee. If a public setting is not your thing, there are multiple websites that offer videos (some at a fee) and these can be tailored to your preference for length, level and style of yoga. Two of my favorites are http://www.yogaglo.com and http://www.yogavibes.com. There are numerous books and magazines that provide guidance on yoga postures and you can find them at your local library or amazon.com. If you know of any yoga instructors, reach out to them. Many offer private lessons and this is a great way to get on-one-on interaction with an instructor who can customize a yoga practice for your body, sport, any injuries you may have and where you are at in your training. Ideally, during your peak season, your yoga practice will be more about recovering the body and stretching the muscles that are being used repetitively. The off season is when more of the strength building and vigorous practice comes into play. This is where having those private lessons becomes advantageous. Everything is tailored specifically to you. Whatever method you chose, be prepared for all the positive changes to come. Most importantly, have fun and don’t take it too serious.

Fall Into a Reset

Ahhhh, November. I have missed you terribly. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. The turning of the leaves, cooler temperatures, scarfs and boots, hot teas and lattes, sitting around the fire, cuddling on the couch under a mountain of blankets, it all makes me giddy with excitement just thinking about it. One thing I really look forward to every year is the time change, the end of daylight savings. I think that setting our clocks back and shorter days is nature’s way of forcing us to slow down and take more time to ourselves.

With the holidays right around the corner, my intention this month is to truly slow way down. To spend more time laying on the couch cuddled up with a good book instead of lacing up my running shoes and pounding the pavement, to cook more meals instead of going out and to go to bed earlier and give myself more rest. I intend to say “no” more often than I say “yes” to plans with others. Most importantly, I plan to take care of myself by hitting the pause button and completely resetting.

We are all extremely busy these days. We live in a fast paced society and we are constantly putting pressure on ourselves to do more and more. It seems that our to-do lists are getting longer and our calendars are filing up quickly. However, you will be of no use to anyone if you don’t stop what you are doing and spend some time relaxing your mind and body. If you notice that you feel guilty about taking time for yourself, then you probably need it much more than you realize. You shouldn’t have a single bit of guilt for carving out time to yourself. Your physical and mental health are more important than any errand, workout or social gathering.

Spend time meditating or take a restorative yoga class.

Read a book.

Drink a cup of tea next to the fireplace.

Start a journal.

Take a bubble bath.

Stay in your pajamas all day long watching movies on the couch.

Pour a glass of wine and light a bunch of candles. 

Listen to relaxing music and diffuse essential oils. (I recommend chamomile, lavender or frankincense.)

 DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO TO SLOW DOWN AND RECHARGE.

 RELAX, RESET, RENEW

Take care of yourself.

 

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!!!!

Go With the Flow

Go with the flow. The same words keep popping up randomly and have been doing so for the past few weeks. It’s in my Instagram or Facebook feed, I’ll see it written in a book or hear it on the radio. Every single time it’s a like a gentle reminder from the universe telling me to chill out and stop wasting my energy fighting whatever situation I’m being faced with.

It all started a few weeks ago when Tori and Ben, two absolutely incredible people from Ohio, who travel to various studios all over the country advocating this movement of going with the flow on our mats, came to OKC. Tori leads the students through a vinyasa flow class while Ben serenades the students with his acoustic guitar and vocals. I really didn’t know what to expect when I showed up for their class but I had only heard really great things.

This would be a good time for me to explain that as a yoga instructor, sometimes it’s really hard for me to get out of my own head when I practice in a class setting. I’m usually thinking “oh, I love that transition, I’ll have it rememberer that” or “wow, that was a great way the instructor lead us into that pose, I really like that” or sometimes I just don’t want to do want the instructor is asking us to do and I end up in child’s pose for half the class because my body is too tired to practice and I really just want to be on my mat, breathing with my community. Nothing more.

Something pretty radical happened when I took Tori and Ben’s class. It was one of those practices where I was deep in it. I mean complete connection to my breath and my body. My mind was silent and I felt my body move and flow in a way it never has before. I had this feeling of being the only one in room yet, It felt as if I was connected to every single person there. Our souls were united and it was as if our hearts beat as one. I didn’t control my breath at all. It just naturally came and moved my body in a dance on my mat. Not to mention the savasana. The most blissful savasana I have ever had in my life. Holy moly! Bens beautiful voice sung us a sweet, beautiful song that brought tears to my eyes. Although I’m notorious for being “that girl” that always cries in class, something shifted in me that day. I realized that I don’t always have to control situations and that sometimes if I just sit back and go with the flow instead of constantly trying to fight the situation, there could be so much more waiting for me at the end.

Lately I’ve struggled with things in my personal life not going the way I want them too. Plans change, relationships change, I change and I often find myself being very resistant to completely surrendering to the situation and allowing things to be as they are. Instead, my mind takes over and negativity starts to creep in. Once this happens it starts to consume me with negativity and it begins to spread like a disease infecting everyone around me.

But here’s the thing I’ve come to realize: change is indeed going to happen and there is not a darn thing you or I can do about it. The seasons change throughout the year bringing many changes to our environment, the years pass, we grow older, our bodies change as well as our minds. Plans change. Ideas change. People change. It happens 24/7. There is no escaping it.

So, we have two options: we can fight against it wasting the short, precious amount of time we have here, only to be in a losing battle with the universe where we end up consumed with emotions of negativity, fear, anger and resentment or we can allow ourselves to go with the flow of life understanding that we can’t always be in control. Sometimes we have to submit to the inevitable and trust that every thing is going to be okay.

Just to clarify here, by saying go with the flow I don’t mean you should just roll over and submit to every single situation that doesn’t go your way. There are obviously times when you must fight for what it is you believe in. There is a time and a place to use that energy and only you can decide when that is. But- if doing so sacrifices your character or causes you to become someone that you wouldn’t want to be around, you might take a step back and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.

Going with the flow is responding to cues from the universe and understanding that things do happen for a reason and at the end of the day we will be fine. It’s about trusting that we don’t always have to control the situation. Sometimes when the winds of the universe change, it’s perfectly okay to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Going with the flow of what life has in store for us instead of fighting against it.

For more information on Ben, Tori and Go With the Flow, check out their website at: gowtheflow.org