My New Years Resolution Tips:
1) it all starts within you. Our attitude can have a tremendous impact on the state of our health. It is important to have a healthy relationship with yourself. This includes your mind, body and relations with others. Put yourself in places that help to foster this healthy attitude.
2) food is #1!!! Yes not exercise but food. I see plenty of people who exercise but are overweight and truly unhealthy.
B) embrace healthy fats as a substitute such as avocado, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, almond butter, etc.
C)Eliminate dairy. This is often a huge cause of allergies and this is in large part to the production processes. If you can get fresh, raw made then do it but otherwise avoid.
D) gluten may or may not be an enemy. Best to eliminate and proceed with caution. I believe the verdict on this is still yet to be determined despite the common media perception.
E) eat your veggies! Dark leafy greens, garlic, onions and more! Steam them and enjoy. Cook in some healthy oils and and enjoy.
F) embrace spices and herbs in your cooking. There are ample health benefits and medicinal qualities.
3) move your body! Simple! Exercise is important and depending on your goals you can tailor the type, intensity, duration accordingly.
A) breathe! This is beyond important and often overlooked. But it is the hallmark of yoga, tai chi, qigong and many other healthy movement systems.
B) find some quiet time and meditate. No books, screens, or even other distractions. You can use music and candles. You can sit l, lay down or take a walk in nature. Breathe deeply and enjoy!
C) stretch! Our lifestyle changes the structure of our body and the relationships of various muscles, joints and affects the organs. For
Instance if you have round shoulders and mid/upper back it collapses on the lungs and makes breathing more difficult. This is one of many examples. So open and stretch. Yes, yoga is by far the best system and way. From here you can discover what works and do your own practice in time. Be mindful
And pay attention!
The little Iron Ball oh how I enjoy your role in my life. A cast iron piece of badassness, you never fail to remind me why you can be such a pain in the ass one moment and an extreme high the next. It seems whenever we are together you always amaze me in some way, shape or form and often I am the one creating the space for you to do so and often without full awareness of what lies ahead. It is these little moments we share that I humbly bow to you and offer thanks for 8 years of unconditional love and commitment.
How to Layout Your Yoga Practice
A great practice requires a great layout. As a yoga teacher I tell my students that teaching a yoga class is equivalent to telling a great story. It starts with a introduction then ebbs and flows through the crescendo or peak and comes to a gentle conclusion leaving the student feeling satisfied to the core and eager to “read” the next book or in the case of yoga, come back to the practice. And like any great series, it is progressive and builds upon the last practice session and if we are lucky we never stop reading and learning.
Here is a simple layout option.
Opening seated meditation. Thinking of this as the intro, setting the table grounding yourself by bringing your attention and awareness to your breathe, body, and mat.
Warm-up. Classically done through sun salutations which will take the body through a series of movements that warm up the whole body and bring awareness to connecting breathe and body. My personal favorite is the ashtanga version of Sun A and Sun B, each done 5 times. You can modify accordingly.
Standing Poses. These are crucial, as they build strength while deepening and further elongating and stretching the bodies big muscles, activating all the small muscles and really challenging the student to stay focused on staying calm and breathing with ease. These are bound to raise the heart rate and make the blood pump therefore it is crucial to stay focused on the breathe to keep the heart rate low and staying calm.
Inversions: A beautiful and brilliant piece (best learned from a teacher before entering) they help with circulation, building confidence and nourishing the brain & mind.
Back bends: crucial part and often difficult for those who sit for prolonged periods thus representing the perfect antithesis to the desk job. Great for strengthening the posterior chain, increasing the strength & flexibility of the spine, and building posture & wonderful at lengthening and opening the anterior chain. These will invigorate your body and like standing poses really challenge the breathe. If lying on the belly aka face down be sure to breathe behind the heart and between the shoulder blades. This position is very difficult to breathe into the belly and can really elevate the heart rate and make one feel uncomfortable in what often is an already uncomfortable position. You can exhale from the navel but do not breathe into the belly.
Twist: a great follow up and way to release and the stress and tension built from the prior poses. This will help unwind while also strengthening the body, trimming the waistline and strengthening the spine. These poses help stimulate the organs, waking them up and in turn eliminating the filth that can accumulate. Plus, after all the above, you will be thirsting for the conclusion, Savanasa.
Forward bends: stretch and lengthen. We are closing in on a complete practice. Slow the breathe and begin to grasp all the benefits. Calm the mind and body and feel/observe the peace and flexibility you have created.
Savasana: how’s the time to make your way to your back. You can do a shoulder stand, happy baby, lying twist, hip stretch, legs up the wall, suptabadha konasana and then Savanasa. Here you want truly reap the benefits of the story, letting everything go and restoring to your new state of being. This is your ah ha moment. Take at least 5 minutes to soak it up in a form of savasana.
So now the practice is through, your physical practice. Ideally you carry this forward throughout the day and into your everyday life.
Note: if practicing Pranayama, it is recommended that this take place prior to Savasana. This includes alternate nostril breathing and such.
A Prescription for Health and Wellness
This is My Readers Digest Version:
*Find something you enjoy doing.
*Get some professional help to understand how to safely and effectively perform what you enjoy.
*Be consistent. It does not matter how much time, effort, etc if you are not consistent.
*Be feasible and realistic. There is no magic pill or answer, make it a life long journey and success will come.
*Move your body, anyway you can.
*Quiet your mind.
*Care for your body.
*Remember you are creating health, so do things that allow you to accomplish your goal.
*sleep and make it a regular cycle!!
*Most important aspect
*Eliminate sugar from your life as much as possible.
*Eliminate Gluten & white flours (buckwheat and brown rice flour are great substitutes)
*Eliminate processed oils. (Use coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil)
*Prepare 90% of your meals.
*Eat your vegetables and fruits.
*Stay out of the middle aisles in the grocery store.
*Get to a farmers market and buy locally produced foods.
*Learn how to read a label (less ingredients equals higher quality of food (in general).
*Eat fresh deep water fish; 100% grass fed beef; chicken that is free to roam and organic; eggs under the same conditions as chicken; wild game
*You do not need milk, instead use almond milk (which is easy to make 1 cup almonds soaked for 4 to 8 hours, 2 cups fresh water, a pinch of stevia (if you want for a bit of sweetness), and a dash of vanilla (same rules as stevia).
*Soak your oats, beans, lentils, etc, this will release the enzymes which are key for health.
*Eat for health and you will have plenty of energy, lose weight/body fat, and be physically, emotionally, mentally healthier
*Create time for pleasure foods but enjoy your foods and drinks sparingly and in small quantities (we all are human and enjoy a glass of wine, slice of pizza, etc. but just be aware and do not binge). You are going to do this anyways so I might as well share my 2 cents 🙂
*Fasting is a good, educate yourself on how to fast properly and allow your system to rest and detox (www.warriordiet.com is an excellent resource).
*You are what you eat, so choose lean, clean, strong foods with vibrant colors and who themselves have been raised, feed, breed, in a healthy and responsible manner.
*Do not skimp on food from a financial standpoint, you will just end up get less value for less value and have to eat more to get what you are intending too. You pay for what you get!
*sleep and make it a regular cycle!!
*Find time each day to meditate, pray, etc. Make sure it is in a quiet place.
*Learn Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, or some other method of calming practice.
*Listen, Listen, Listen to everyone, everything and do so with an open mind and heart (no judging allowed).
*Respect yourself and others
*Act with kindness
*Think before you speak
*Ask yourself how you want to be treated when responding to others.
*Do not take it personal
*Everyone has their own story and lives their own life and often we are acting how we know best
*Right and Wrong is a grey area considering we only know what we know.
*Do not Judge yourself or others….you only know what you know and the same goes from them.
*Ask questions to learn.
*Respect your differences and others.
*Anger rarely gets you anywhere, choose your battles wisely.
*Be right or be peaceful, chose peaceful you will feel the difference.
*What the heck you right about anyway? So what if it 75 degrees outside and not 77 degrees.
*If you have to be right then have your facts, if it is a matter of opinion keep it to yourself because most people have their own…respect each others opinions.
The list of each of these can go on and on and the details and descriptions would help to offer greater insight. Life truly is much more simple than we make it out to be. All this stuff that is available seems to make things a bit more challenging to figure out. The funny thing is the answers are right in front of our face we just have to open ourselves to the beauty of the world. Instead of being cynical be peaceful and joyful, look at the world and people around you as good, beautiful, amazing, unique, exciting, full of possibility and potential, full of opportunity. Smile, laugh, share, listen, love, be kind!
See, to me you all our great people, who I am so fortunate to be able to communicate with and share ideas, no right, no wrong just an open form where we get to learn and grow together. I get to share my experiences and you yours and hopefully we evolve in the process. I am grateful for your eyes, your ears, your thoughts, feelings and emotions. I want you to succeed and achieve your own personal legacy and I want to be there to share with you in whatever way your successes.
Have a blessed and beautiful day/life
Compassion: an understanding; a form of empathy; a way to relate and see the world through another’s eyes without judgment.
Patience: calm; ease; relaxed; compassionate; non-judgmental; a way to understand in the present the circumstances surrounding the situation/issue
Kindness: a way of being; an action; a form of consciousness/awareness; thoughtful; how to treat ones self and others
Simplicity: an appreciation for the little things; a feeling of fulfillment; content; an ease; the demand for little to nothing; a gratitude for all things being.
Consistency: living as you are in word, thought and action within all daily life’s moments; a form of dedication and awareness; a simplicity;
Respect: for self, others and all things being; awareness, compassion, kindness in all things
Qi Gong Practice, A Reflection
At first the mind was restless. About 30 breathes the monkey became the turtle as my mind slowed with my breath and I moved from the shallow to the deep. With each deep breath the qi spread to the extremities as I could feel the fingers and feet become more energized with a tingling type sensation. As the practice continued my feet rooted deeper, my sacrum softened and my body relaxed with the breath
Flowing from thoughts to clearing the mind. Awareness to grounded. Resistance to allowance. A quiet, slow breathe from short and shallow to long and deep. Distraction to concentration. An easy awareness, a natural and open flow.
The above is 2 separate reflections from my Qi Gong practice, in which I was lead by a teacher. 15 minutes of amazing practice. Certainly a worthwhile practice to include in daily or weekly movement, or meditation practice. We often do some of the movements in our normal daily physical practice, such as squats both dynamic and static, yoga movements related to tadasana and sun salutation, spinal twist, etc. One of the aspects of this particular form/philosophy of practice that I appreciate is the perspective and esoteric nature.
From my limited understanding we are cultivating, moving, channeling energy/Qi, removing stagnation, etc. From a Chinese Medical perspective I understand the ability and power to do this through use of acupuncture, herbal remedies, exercise, etc. and Qi Gong is a beautiful if not completely tangible and well understood practice (by the general populous).
I am a believer and certainly hope Qi Gong continues to grow in the consciousness of people and health/wellness practitioners.
As Thomas Edison once said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human body, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga are interested in exactly this. It is wonderful to explore the numerous possibilities for health and well-being.