The Key to Yoga Bliss? A Regular Home Practice

The benefits to practicing yoga are becoming more well known.  The list of yoga goodness ranges from the physical benefits of increased flexibility, coordination, and strength.  As well as mental/emotional  benefits including reduction of stress,  improvements of resilience, mood, and even relief from depression.  Some practitioners also report  a deepening in a spiritual connection.

Until recently, there has not been any hard scientific data to support these claims.  The journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports on the efficacy of all of the beneficial claims of practicing yoga.  The most amazing report I came across was entitled Frequency of Yoga Practice Predicts Health.  The conclusions drawn from this report are that “home practice of yoga predicted health better than years of practice or class frequency. Frequency of home practice appears to be very important—more important than how long an individual has been practicing or how many classes one takes.”

I’ve been a yoga teacher for over ten years now.  I’ve taught weekly classes, weekend workshops, as well as private one on one sessions.  Although I enjoy the energy and community of the weekly classes and workshops,  I have witnessed the greatest  transformations when I’ve worked with private clients to guide them through the process of creating a lifelong home practice.   By working one on one with clients, I am able to design home practices that addresses each client’s specific needs.  By addressing their specific needs and through establishing a daily practice, my private clients experience all the juicy, yoga goodness.  Once you begin to see the transformative effects of yoga, you are hooked! Yoga becomes a part of you and your practice becomes a daily habit.

If you’ve been going to regular yoga classes and are waiting to feel that yoga bliss, your key may be adding a daily home practice, one that resonates with you and addresses your own personal intentions.

A Charmed Yogi

heart hand gesture

Why do we come to the yoga mat?  Initially for me, it was to reduce stress; increase my lung capacity; and improve my flexibility.  But then it morphed.  I was looking for something more, a spirituality or openness. I wanted to cultivate acceptance inwardly and outwardly, in other words, I wanted to cultivate love.   As I practiced, I realized, I wanted to continue to ‘spread that love’ by becoming a teacher.  But, what kind of teacher would I be?

I found my voice early as a teacher without any instruction, but there was still ego.  Yes, yoga teachers still struggle with ego.  While I’ve never been one to strive for striking a pose for the cover of Yoga Journal, I’ve found myself asking the questions, ” Am I a ‘good’ teacher?” ” Do I challenge my students?”  “Am I boring my students?” “Do I talk too much?”  “Do I talk…

View original post 230 more words

Great guide to using yoga props! My teacher trainer always used to say, if you can’t reach the floor, bring the floor to you! Enjoy the post!

A Charmed Yogi

yoga props

Using props in your yoga practice is not a necessity, but there are ways to incorporate accessories like blocks, straps, bolsters and wedges to help support your practice.

Myth: Props are for wimps.

Fact: Props can often prevent injury by providing stability throughout the evolution of our yoga practice. Plus, many props can actually help us get deeper into postures, and alleviate unnecessary stress on joints.

This awesome chart from Fit Blogger shows a variety of ways to work props into your regular practice.  I’m a bit of a prop-a-holic myself.  They came in particularly handy after an injury, and allowed me to re-learn my practice using better body mechanics.

prop usage guide

Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the props picture here.  If you don’t have a strap, you can improvise using the belt of your robe.  And if you don’t have a ‘yoga bolster’ you can stack up a…

View original post 105 more words

Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

Out of the Darkness and Into the Light.

Must share this lovely post from A Charmed Yogi. She does such a lovely job at explaining what meditation is, but even more importantly, what it isn’t! Enjoy! ❤

A Charmed Yogi

woman with the word 'listen' taped over her mouth

“Seek to understand, then to be understood” – Stephen Covey

A friend recently shared a disturbing article on Facebook about parents who want to ban yoga in school because they consider it to be ‘prayer’ and religion has no place in school. The hardest part of this for me to swallow isn’t the lack of understanding about yoga philosophy, but that they’re willing to take away a valuable physical education and stress management tool from their children without seeking to understand. Meditation is not prayer, and there are other things it isn’t that I’ll get into.

View original post 480 more words

5 Steps to Mindful Parenting

As the parent of three (if I do say so myself) fabulous children ages 15, 12, and 10, I sometimes stand back in wonderment at how these individuals came to be such well adjusted, happy people.

I think the feeling of  gratitude especially hits me when I hear of the tragic lives other children live.  In my other life, I’m a special education teacher. I witness how precious young lives are changed forever by unconscious parenting.  I also hear the tragic stories of young people at my son’s high school who turn to drugs and alcohol to fill the holes they feel.

When I think of how my husband and I have chosen to raise our children, the best way to describe our style is mindful parenting.  Even before our children were born we’d spend hours discussing our views on parenting and raising children.  It was always our desire to help guide them, but never to mold them into our vision of the perfect child.  It’s always been important for us to help them uncover their inner genius or their own life’s purpose.  We’ve allowed them to explore interests and if something doesn’t resonate with them we’ve allowed them to move on.

What is mindful parenting?  Jon Kabat-Zinn, co-author of  Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting suggests:

“Parenting through mindfulness has the potential to penetrate past surface appearances and behaviors and allow us to see our children as they truly are, so we can act with some degree of wisdom and compassion. The more we are able to keep in mind the intrinsic wholeness and beauty of our children – especially when it’s difficult to see – the more our ability to be mindful deepens.

So,  here are my 5 steps to Mindful Parenting:

1.  Listen.  No, I mean really listen to them.  As I say to my class  at school, “Give me five!”  Five meaning:  listen with your eyes, your ears, your heart, with your hands free, and mouth closed.  This is so hard in a busy mom’s (and dad’s)  life!  Make it a point to really give your kids “five” everyday.  We all  just want to feel heard.  When we feel that we are heard, we feel validated and worthy as  human beings.  What message are we sending our children if we are so busy on facebook or our iphones that we nod politely and say a lot of “uh-huh, that’s nice sweetie” while they are telling us about their day?  What chance do we have that they will really listen to us when we have something important to say?

2.  Observe.  Mindful parenting requires us to be present enough on a day to day basis to notice small changes in behavior in our children.  When my oldest gets short fused and smart-mouthed, I know something is going on in his life.  If I were not present and mindful, I might just punish him for being disrespectful or belligerent. But that doesn’t get to the root of the problem.  When I observe this behavior shift from his usual happy self to a place of anger, I approach him instead with love and concern, then give him some space to let what I’ve said settle in.  Each and every time, within a short amount of time, he comes to me, apologizes for his behavior and tells me what is going on.  We then have a dialogue about what he may be dealing with at the time as I help him come to his own resolution with the issue.

3.  Be Firm with your Expectations.  Mindful parenting does not mean anything goes.  I am not suggesting that you don’t have rules.  On the contrary, I think it is important to have boundaries and rules within a family.  It is very confusing for young people to not have boundaries and rules.  I think that is why some of my students love school and hate when summer vacation comes; they desperately and innately need boundaries.   This provides a safe environment to grow and learn.  It is also important that family rules and subsequent consequences are clear and spelled out.  Nothing confuses a child more than inconsistency or surprises.

4.  It’s okay to express emotions.  Years ago I attended a Kirtan led by Krishna Das.  He told a story of his “adopted” family in India that he came to think of as his own.  He said one of the most  startling, but beautiful things he witnessed early on in this family was how they’d yell like crazy, vent at one another, and have truly knock down drag out arguments.  The beauty came after the conflict when they’d come back together, hug one another, discuss it, then move forward. No one was chastised for losing his or her cool, or for crying, or for feeling any of their feelings.   That story has always stuck with me.  How many times have we heard a parent (you may have even caught yourself)  say, “Stop crying!”  “You are too old to cry.” “Don’t raise your voice.” or “Don’t act like such a baby!”  etc….?  The harm in all of these messages is that we are in essence saying to our children, “The way you are expressing your emotions is WRONG”  or worse yet they hear us say “The feeling that you are feeling  itself is WRONG!”  So what do they learn to do?  Stuff their feelings so deep down, it can take years as adults to uncover them.  My children have witnessed me yell, cry, and totally lose it.  And I’ve seen them do the same.  We accept that these are just feelings and feelings pass.

5. Love your children as individuals.  As a parent of a soccer player, I have witnessed many a parent living via their children.  If their child makes a mistake, they take it personally.  If their child is a superstar, they take it even more personally!  So many children play a sport, play an instrument, or get straight A’s only because they don’t want to disappoint their parents.  The longer a child lives to please a  parent, the harder it will be to discover their own life’s passion as they grow and mature. I’m not saying that all children excelling at sports or music or academics are only doing so to please a parent!  There are many children who are intrinsically motivated to do well and excel at what they love.  I believe it is our role as parents to help them find out what it is that they love.  It is important to provide an environment of love, support, and compassion so that children will feel safe to venture out and try new things knowing that if they fall flat on their face, they’ll have the safety of home to come back to.

Mindfulness takes practice.  If you are new to the practice of mindfulness, be patient with yourself.  Start with baby steps.  Set an intention at the beginning of each day to practice being truly present for small, do-able increments throughout the day.  Keep a journal to document your progress.  Most importantly, don’t take it too seriously!  Have fun with it and include your children in on your new habits!

Namaste,

Lisa

Gratitude

It’s been awhile since I last blogged.  I have been in some sort of funk and really didn’t want to whine or complain, so I just sort of disappeared for a bit. I’ve been working hard at climbing my way back from the abyss of funk-dom.  I had some figuring out to do. And I gotta say, it’s good to be back!

Sprirally downward is incidious.  It doesn’t happen over night. It creeps up on you so slowly that you don’t even know you are slipping away.  Thank God I have the level of awareness to know when I’ve gone too far, for too long. 

I’ve been practicing my yoga asanas, breathing, and meditation.  Something was still missing.  Then it hit me.  Most of my thoughts throughout my day were focused on lack;  lack of money, lack of time, lack of “stuff”.  I thought about how I wasn’t living my purpose.  And on and on and on. 

Those of us familiar with Universal Law know that negative attracts negative.  Well, guess what I kept getting!?! 

What has been missing is living each day with gratitude.  When I switched my thoughts to gratitude, the fog lifted and the light returned.  I feel gratitude for the money we have, the time I have with my fabulous family, the home we live in, and the path that I”m on to help me live my life’s purpose. 

Although it seems simple, it certainly isn’t easy.  It takes concious effort and a real resolve to want to change. 

With gratitude to each and every one of you!

Peace and Love,

Lisa

Previous Older Entries