Category Archives: Positive Thoughts

Starting the New Year “Sin Culpa”

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Before a night of over-eating and drinking, I made sure to start my New Year’s Eve with some hot yoga. When I entered the Haute Yoga Queen Anne studio, Leah (our instructor) had set down small squares of paper and pens next to everyone’s spot on the floor. My gut reaction was to think we’d be writing down our New Year’s resolutions to set our intention for the day’s practice.

This did not sit well with me because I’ve been avoiding setting 2013 resolutions in the first place. I don’t like the idea of setting “goals” because every time I do, I inevitably start feeling bad about where I am in my life — like what I’m currently doing isn’t enough, or too much — goals like: eat healthier, save money, etc. These are all important things, but I don’t need to self-inflict punishment by avoiding all my favorite foods or creating a strict budget. I have great momentum going with where I am in my career and at school, so my intent for 2013 is to keep doing what I’m doing, and make sure I’m having fun while I’m doing it.

Instead, Leah started class with a discussion about how resolutions always tend to make us feel guilty (amen), and said that the start of 2013 was about being guilt-free — “sin culpa.” In the first half of the square piece of paper, she had us write down one thing we want more of in 2013, and on the bottom half, she had us write down one thing we wanted to do away with. So what do I want? I want more balance — 2013 is about giving work and school my best, but while also making sure to do that for myself, friends and family. What do I want to do away with? Well, I could sure get rid of any self doubt and fear holding me back.

And that’s exactly what we did. Leah instructed us to tear our paper down the middle so these two desires are separated. She collected all of the things we want to get rid of in 2013 and put them in a small fire pot (caution: do not try this at home). We watched all of these things holding us back go up in smoke, and then we did 90 minutes of hot yoga. What a great way to enter 2013!

The point is that we don’t have to punish ourselves and dwell on all of the things we want to get rid of. If we just concentrate on  pursuing those things that make us happy, the rest will come.

What are you looking forward to in 2013? How do you plan to stay motivated and on track?

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Top 5 Reasons to do Yoga in the Morning

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It’s been a while since I’ve rolled out of bed at 6 a.m. for a heart-pounding yoga sweat session, but I finally had the willpower to go this week – and it felt great. Now, I know setting your alarm a full hour before you normally get up isn’t ideal, but bear with me.

I’m guilty of having the best intentions to go to the morning class, and then I just hit snooze for 10 minutes (or 20 – or even reset my alarm entirely). On these mornings, the extra sleep doesn’t do much good because I spend the last hour of rest feeling guilty and continuing to hit snooze.

So here’s a tip – set out your yoga clothes in the morning (or sleep in them if you have to), and when your alarm goes off, just lie there for 5 minutes. I promise you, 5 minutes is all it takes. I take this time to scroll through my email on my phone, check Twitter or Facebook – just anything to keep my eyes open and my mind moving. If my eyelids are closing uncontrollably, I’ll usually elect to fall back asleep. But, most of the time, I’m alert after this exercise and ready to start my day.

If you have a 9 to 5 job and are lacking motivation to go to yoga in the cold, dark winder evenings, here are 5 motivating reasons to consider morning classes instead:

  1. You start your day with intention: Rather than just jumping into the shower and worrying about everything you have to get done that day, you are giving yourself a full hour to just focus on you.
  2. It feels better than a cup of coffee: Once you get into the flow, your body wakes right up.
  3. You can do back bends without staying up all night: Since I usually only practice in the evening, I’m hesitant to do back bends because they are so energizing. In the morning, you don’t need to worry about the extra energy jolt!
  4. You start your day with positivity: It’s not healthy to show up to work every morning, turn on your computer and just plug away at your to-do list. We are social creatures. We need interaction and inspiration. Yoga is a perfect way to satiate this need because you’re around like-minded people who all want to leave class feeling better than when they walked in.
  5. You’re done with your workout for the day: If a last-minute project comes up at work that might keep you late, you don’t have to face the dilemma of work v. yoga because it’s already taken care of.

What are your favorite reasons to take a morning yoga class? If you’re still hesitant to do so, what’s keeping you from trying it?

Saturdays With Silvia: Celebrating the Power of Your Feet

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Today’s class with Silvia was all about the power of your feet. I’ve never thought to give much attention to these guys before; I’ve always thought the hands to be more superior, allowing me touch, embrace, write, type, feed myself — you name it! Or my legs, which hold up my entire body and allow me to move from point A to point B. But, that of course is not possible without your feet.

Feet become even more impressive when you look at the numbers. Did you know we take an average of 7,500 steps per day? I’ve always considered myself pretty sedentary during the day given my desk job, but when I think about walking from the bus to work, around the office, back home and around the house, it sure adds up quickly! Even more impressive is that our feet house 25 percent of our body’s bones!

I’ve always hated my feet to be honest. I take after my dad – tall and lanky. And with that physique comes big hands and big feet (size 9-9.5 to be specific). Growing up, I felt self conscious going shopping with friends when they’d take a look at the aisles for size 6, 7 or 8, and I’d be at the other end seeing what’s left in the cute stuff for me. For a while, I preferred cramming my feet into smaller shoes just so I could get the cute ones, and later realized that’s the fast track to completely deforming your feet. Mine are already pronated to begin with!

In today’s class, I was forced to really look at my feet — to stretch them, to feel them, to spread my toes out and balance on them. As much as I disliked my feet before, I couldn’t help but be thankful I had any feet at all!

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to think about our body’s health and give thanks for what we’re able to accomplish with extremities so seemingly simple as our feet. What are you thankful for?

My feet 🙂

4 Ways to Think Before You Speak

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A few years ago at work, we had the option to take the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test, which is basically a personality test that identifies key traits such as extroversion or introversion, sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling, and judging (this is more about order and preference for having things settled) and perception.

We took the written test, and then had an in-person working session to learn about the key traits and what they mean. The purpose was for us to better understand the point of view we’re coming from and our working style so we can collaborate better overall. I wasn’t shocked to learn I was an introvert (and mind you introvert is not synonymous with shy) because I’ve always preferred my alone time, and I’m never the first one to say what’s on my mind. I like to do some information gathering, mull over it in my head, make an informed opinion and then present it.

I was a bit nervous, however, looking at the room full of extroverts around me. My company as a whole is dominated by extroverts, which can make things like brainstorms and general work styles pretty exhausting for those who prefer to internalize and organize thoughts. I’ve made do, though, and have become more comfortable with the idea of throwing things out there and seeing what sticks.

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t think there are inherent benefits to the introverted working style either. Last night’s practice with Jenniferlyn was all about the four gates to speech. Words are so powerful, and these four gates provide a simple guide that can make all the difference to the person on the receiving end. Before speaking, you can ask yourself these simple questions:

  1. Is what you’re about to say true?
  2. Is it helpful to this person?
  3. Is it even necessary to say?
  4. Is it kind?

In particular, I like the last two questions because sometimes what we end up saying doesn’t actually need to be said. And when there are times something needs to be said, it can be said in a kind, rather than accusatory way.

What do you think about this kind of filter? Is it helpful? Do you think it’s missing something?

Learning to Let it Go

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I had this instructor a couple years ago who would always say, “Let it go, let it flow” as we’d move through our vinyasa, particularly as the “hour of power” class was really picking up steam. I always found this reminder useful, with my triceps trembling while moving through plank to chaturanga and willpower waning. But, I survived every class, and by the time we were laying in savasana, I was always glad I powered through.

Then this week Jenniferlyn Chiemingo got me thinking about the difference between just powering through an activity and surrendering to it. To illustrate, she had us sit on the backs of our heels, with toes curled to the ground and arms raised in front of us for two minutes. She warned us that we’d all hate her for this, and we all did. The first minute was fine, but then my feet started to feel like they might break, and my shoulders were aching from all of our planks and chaturangas. I was sure we’d never finish. I kept opening my eyes to make sure she was even looking at a clock and kept thinking “Just get through it! It can’t be too much longer.”

After what seemed like 10 minutes, she let us out of the pose, and we all breathed a sigh of relief and verified that our feet were still in tact. The point is that I survived, and I don’t necessarily think I needed to exhaust all of that mental energy to sit in such a simple pose. Could I instead have just surrendered into the pose, knowing that two minutes is two minutes, and no amount of negative thoughts or looking for the clock was going to change that?

I learned a lot about myself in those two minutes. I want to tackle everything head on — I want to be active in it, dig deep and power through. In other words, I don’t know how to just, “Let it go, let it flow.” Sometimes life events call for you to just experience it and move on. Not everything requires some sort of active, emotional response to it. Sometimes it just a waste of energy, and I know this first hand from many a mental fit.

Jay-Z had it right — Dirt off your shoulder.