Hi everyone,

As I delve deeper into learning everything I possibly can about Ayurveda, I get more and more excited to share what I am learning with all of you. In Ayurveda, it is believed that you should go through a cleanse/detox twice a year…in the Spring and in the Fall. Typically, this is done in April and October. Cleanses can vary in terms of length of time.

Last April, I participated in my first Ayurvedic cleanse. It was a 10-day cleanse, and I really enjoyed it. The food was delicious, and I absolutely loved the lifestyle aspects that I’ve now made a part of my normal, everyday life.

I’m about to embark on my second Ayurvedic cleanse. This time, it’s a 21-day cleanse run by Cate Stillman at http://www.yogahealer.com. I kow many people who have done Cate’s cleanses and they have said they feel amazing during and after.

I hate doing things by myself, as many of you know if you know me personally. :) So, I would love for you to join me if you are up for the challenge. Check out the link below, which has a video and some other information to explain what it’s all about. Sign up with me and learn new things not just for yourself, but for your whole family as well. Let’s do this together!

https://qq114.infusionsoft.com/go/newnormal/a557

Namaste,

Melanie

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In my last post, I mentioned I am switching up the way I do things and will now focus on a monthly yoga theme, rather than a weekly theme. As I’ve learned myself the past couple of months, it takes time to incorporate certain things as permanent parts of our lives, and I feel that many of the topics we’ve been exploring lately deserve more than a week from each of us in order to ingrain them into our entire being.

For those of you who come to my yoga classes, you know that I always incorporate whatever the theme is into class, but that doesn’t mean we will be doing the exact same thing in each class throughout the month. There is always more than one way to “skin the cat”, so to speak, so my hope is to give you a different practice each time that helps set the theme into your heart and into your life more permanently.

All that being said, I felt like for the month of September, our focus should be on SLOWING DOWN. After all, many of us have been overly busy this summer, wouldn’t you say? Many of you might say, “Well, I took a vacation this summer!” But think about it carefully…did you really take a VACATION, or did you spend that time traveling all over the place, rushing from one tourist spot to the next? In my mind, unless you actually get the downtime your body and mind so desperately need periodically, then it doesn’t REALLY count.

Also, school is now back in session for the kiddos (or maybe even for ourselves, for that matter), so many of us are super busy trying to get kids acclimated to new teachers, shuttling them between one activity and the next, and trying to adapt to whatever new schedule changes all this means in our lives. It can be CRAZY!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, summer is the season where the fire element dominates. And as we are now nearing the end of summer (Can you BELIEVE that?? Fall officially begins on September 22nd!), you may really be noticing the effects of all that fire if you haven’t been able to truly relax and let go a little bit throughout the summer. As I mentioned in that post, I said I needed to get back to regular meditation, and I have been very diligent about it. This is also a topic many of you have said you want to know more about, and you’ve also told me that it’s very difficult for you to establish a meditation practice because it’s SO HARD to sit still and focus. Meditation is a wonderful tool to use if you want to get better at slowing down because it helps you get better at focusing on what is important and ignoring all the “noise”.

As I’ve been making my way through the 21-Day Meditation Challenge being offered by the Chopra Meditation Center, I’ve really seen my meditation practice evolve and grow in such an amazing way! It incorporates guided meditation, mantras and journaling…and I must say, I love this format! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, and I love going back and looking at my journal entries to see what my thoughts were on the day I did the meditation. And the mantras…I can’t say enough about how I love the way saying them out loud and repeating them makes me feel! Even just simply humming (think about trying to make yourself sound like a bee buzzing around) is amazingly therapeutic. The vibrations from the sounds of the Sanskrit mantras I’ve been using are so healing for our bodies and our minds! Even just repeating them silently in my head does wonders for calming my “monkey mind”, which I usually have such a hard time controlling.

Throughout the month of September, try incorporating a little bit of mantra meditation into your day. You could simply choose a short phrase that is meaningful to you and repeat it aloud if you want to experience the effect of their vibrations, or you can repeat it silently to yourself to see if helps you stay focused…or do both! That’s what I have been doing and I love it!

Not sure where to start? You can always Google for a mantra that resonates with you, and you certainly don’t have to choose a Sanskrit one. I love the Sanskrit mantras, because the way they are strung together was done on purpose…the vibration and frequency of each mantra is meant to help your mind and body achieve a particular purpose (i.e., happiness, relaxation, motivation, etc.). If you’re not sure how to pronounce the words, you can find many of them on YouTube…I like using this as a resource, because many times, I find versions that make them sound more like songs, and I love music! Here are some of the Sanskrit mantras I’ve been using…I have been focusing on improving my level of happiness, so I chose mantras geared around that theme:

  1. OM. Now this is one you probably all know, as it’s chanted at the beginning or end of many yoga classes. It’s usually the first Sanskrit word we learn, and it’s the easiest one to incorporate. OM is the sound of the universe. It’s said to be the first, original vibration, representing the birth, death and re-birth process. It’s awesome for helping you to chill out and relax!
  2. LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU. The translation of this mantra is, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” This mantra is thought to encourage cooperation, compassion and living in harmony with everything around us. I learned this particular mantra when I was doing my Level 4 YogaFit Teacher Training, and the tune that we chanted it to in that training is the one I still use today, all these years later. I’ve heard so many “tunes” for this chant…some of them I love and some I don’t. Maybe because of the original tune I learned, I am a bit partial to versions that sound like that.
  3. LILA HUM. The translation of this is, “I am filled with the playfulness of life at the basis of all creation.” This mantra helps to remind us that life springs from play, light, freedom and joy…to relax a bit on the rules and responsibility and enjoy life!
  4. SHREE RAM. I am not sure of the exact translation of this one to be honest. It’s one of the ones from the 21-Day Meditation Challenge, and it combines the energy of Shree, which is divine joy, auspiciousness and abundance, with the energy of Ram, a mantra which strongly draws those divine qualities directly into the physical body and into the emotions. It has the effect of creating a surge of bliss. Traditionally, it is also considered a powerful healing mantra for a variety of physical conditions.

Do any of you already incorporate mantras into your lives regularly? If so, I’d love to get your feedback on the following:

  1. How often do you incorporate mantras? Daily, weekly, etc.?
  2. Do you chant them aloud, or silently, or both?
  3. How does using mantras make you feel? In other words, can you feel a difference at all by using them?
  4. What are some of your favorite mantras?

Take this month to try and quell the fire that may have built within you over the summer by SLOWING DOWN. Incorporating mantras may be just the thing you need to help you do that successfully. But if mantra practice doesn’t resonate with you, find any form of meditation that WILL help you slow down and enjoy life a little. Find your happiness!

Namaste,

Melanie

On August 20th, I completed my self-imposed “30 Days of Positivity” challenge, where I committed to listing three positives each day for a total of 30 days. It’s funny…I was initially challenged to doing this for only 7 days, but I ended up feeling like I needed to commit to doing this for a full 30 days. After all, I am a worrier by nature and have issues with anxiety, so I could really use some help with being positive more often. I knew that if I could focus on more of the positives around me, I would be more likely to get better at keeping my stress levels down, as well as to make some progress in figuring out my next step for my yoga/wellness career.

I’m happy to report that doing this challenge faithfully for 30 days really has made a difference! As I sat back last night and thought about everything that had happened during, and following, this challenge, I have to be honest…I am getting SO EXCITED about things to come! Here’s a little rundown some of the improvements I’ve seen for myself over the past 30 days:

  • I am pursuing how to become a Yoga Health Coach, so that I can merge my yoga training with Ayurveda to help others implement healthier and natural lifestyle changes.
  • I signed up for a 21-Day Meditation Challenge (I am currently on Day 15), which is focusing on how to be happier.
  • I got my daughter off to college without completely breaking down, and I am genuinely happy and excited for all that she will accomplish, rather than dwelling on the fact that I don’t have her at home anymore.
  • I have purged quite a few things from my house that I no longer need. My goal is to get rid of the things that don’t serve me…I noticed that getting rid of things I don’t need makes me less stressed. So now I am on a mission to de-clutter as much as I possibly can!
  • I’ve connected with more friends. By making my physical, emotional and mental health top priority, I’ve been spending more time with my friends and family, and that has done wonders for my happiness level.
  • I’m now deeply committed to making sure I take one day off a week. One day where I don’t work, teach, or do anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. That may take a little time to get this to happen each and every week, but the couple of times I’ve been able to do it so far, I’ve noticed HUGE differences in my ability to stay relaxed and it’s helped me to sleep better. So that’s my incentive to make it happen as often as I can. Plus, my new doctor said I need to do this, so I consider it my “prescription” for better health.

Though I am done with the 30 Days, I’m not really done. I’m just not publishing every little positive thing on Facebook anymore. I feel like committing to the 30 day time period really helped me to establish this practice as a new habit. I’ve noticed that I now wake up each morning looking for all the good stuff around me. In light of this, I’ve decided to change the structure of how I post my blogs.

I’ve been focusing my posts over the past few months on more of the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga, rather than on specific body parts or poses…after all, your feedback indicated you wanted more of this type of content. These aspects are just as important as the physical poses we practice, but incorporating the spiritual and philosophical practices are sometimes more challenging because many times, it involves changing a mindset completely. And for many of us, that’s not always easy to do. At least, not unless we practice, and practice…and practice some more!

So, rather than posting weekly like I have been, I will now be posting monthly instead. This means we’ll be focusing on a particular topic for the entire month, which I feel will give us plenty of time to work through what we need to in order to make it a permanent and lasting part of our lives. My hope is that we’ll use the comments section of each blog post to communicate with each other about challenges we come across, as well as successes. I think it’s important to share what works and what doesn’t with each other.

So what do you think? Are you with me? Are you ready to dig in to your yoga practice with me in a different way? Please say YES! Pretty please…I am so excited about this opportunity for all of us!

I’ll be posting the focus for each month during the last week of the preceding month…so September’s focus will be posted sometime this week, prior to 9/1/2014.

I know some of you don’t follow me on Facebook, so I thought you might want to see how my 30 Days of Positivity progressed throughout my journey. Here it is below, all together in one spot!

Day 1 Positives:

  1. I’m alive and functioning…that’s a big positive, in my book!
  2. My family is awesome…they are always there for me, no matter what.
  3. I’ve got a job that provides me and my family with decent health insurance…this is not a luxury that many people I know have, so I appreciate this!

Day 2 Positives:

  1. I get to exercise with my buddy,Patty Benjamin tonight!
  2. I slept good last night…feeling refreshed today because of it.
  3. I got to spend time with my youngest last night, which let us connect and catch up…LOVE!

Day 3 Positives:

  1. My husband got up to do yoga with me at 5:15 a.m….the dogs joined in as well. We may not have accomplished masterful poses, but we had fun getting kisses every time we got down on the ground.
  2. Several of my acquaintances are now becoming true friends to They may not realize how much they’ve helped or inspired me these past couple of weeks, but I am truly thankful for them, and they are a very positive influence in my life right now.
  3. My legs and feet are hurting less today than they have been the past few weeks. Woot woot! I’ll take it!

Day 4 Positives:

  1. My oldest daughter and I got to attend a Hot Yoga class together last night. It was just what I needed, and I enjoyed having time with her before she heads off to college next month.
  2. The tomatoes in our garden are rockin!
  3. I was a little sad yesterday, and my dogs could tell…they snuggled extra with me when I went to bed last night…they always make me feel more positive.

Day 5 Positives:

  1. The creek in my backyard is making the most awesome, relaxing sounds, thanks to all the rain we’ve had.
  2. The Deep Stretch class I taught last night was full of the most wonderful students I could ask for. I loved the questions they were asking, because it showed me that they are really invested in making the most appropriate changes for bettering themselves.
  3. I came home from said Deep Stretch class to a wonderful dinner cooked byMorgan Leigh Deal…she even made separate things for me, due to my food restrictions…what a thoughtful girl!

Day 6 Positives:

  1. The sun is shining!
  2. I got great feedback from the little “after party” we had after the Chillax Yoga class last Friday…people enjoyed not just the wine and snacks, but getting to know each other, which was what I truly hoped for…Yay!
  3. My cousin’sson spent the night with us last night. This is the first time I’ve ever had him for this long (he’s 16 years old), and I must say….I am very proud of the man he is becoming. My cousin, were he still here, would be so very proud!

Day 7 Positives:

  1. After 7 days of doing this, it’s getting easier and easier to find positive things around me. I feel like this is something I will continue to do, though maybe not on Facebook.
  2. We dropped Casey off at camp today, where she will be for a whole week with no way to contact us. She was so excited, and she is looking forward to making new friends…I am so glad she isn’t afraid to try new things!
  3. Thanks toGayle Boissonnault Stefanelli, I am committing, starting now, to giving up ANY food or drink that has been artificially sweetened. I am so thankful to people who pass amazing info my way, as these things are all helpful in more ways than you know.

Day #8 Positives:

  1. My co-worker,Timina Wilkerson Stengel, wrote an article about me and yoga for our division’s monthly newsletter and submitted it to the head of Corporate Communications for review. He sent me a personal e-mail this morning saying that the article struck him so much so, he wanted to know if I was OK with it being published in the weekly newsletter that goes out to the whole company! Wow! I feel so honored! And thank you, Timina, for writing such a wonderful piece!
  2. All my strength training must be paying off. A few days ago, someone told me my legs were “rock hard”. And last night, my hubby told me my arms were looking really strong.
  3. It is a gorgeous day outside…I am loving the cooler temps and the bright sun. Namaste!

Day 9 Positives:

  1. God
  2. Yoga
  3. Meditation

And yes, these three things go together beautifully!

Day 10 Positives:

  1. My new doctor…I met him yesterday and spent 2.5 hours with him…one of the things he “prescribed” for me is daily yoga. How cool is that?
  2. My love of research. My new doc gave me lots of homework to do between now and when I go in again…good thing I love researching and learning all about health and wellness!
  3. My yoga practice this morning…it was just what I needed.

Day 11 Positives:

  1. It’s Friday, which means I get to teach my FAVORITE class of the whole week!
  2. The yoga article about me was published to my division today, and I’ve already had 3 people at work ask me about how they can get started! I can’t wait to see if more people respond once it goes to the whole company next week. BOOM!
  3. My new chakra bracelets, made by my friend, the lovelyPatty Benjamin. Aren’t they gorgeous? I need to buy the last 3, but these first 4 are where I need the most work right now.

Day 12 Positives:

  1. Casey comes home from summer camp today! I haven’t seen or talked to her since we dropped her off last Sunday, so I can’t wait to see her beautiful face and to hear all about the things she did at camp.
  2. I have now been free of all artificial sweeteners for 7 days. And I never had one craving for it at all during the 7 days…AND, my legs aren’t hurting today. Wonder if there is a connection to this, after all?
  3. I am here for another glorious day…I am planning on making the most of it!

Day 13 Positives:

  1. Today I begin purging. My plan today is to get through all of my books and get rid of the ones I don’t need to keep around.
  2. Casey had a blast at camp, and said she can’t wait to go back again and again. I am so happy she met some new friends and tried some new things.
  3. I get to attendJennifer Hunt’s amazing Restore & Renew class at Synergy Yoga’s Rock Hill location tonight. She is an amazing teacher! If you want 90 minutes of total Restorative Yoga, come on down and join us. Class starts at 5:45 p.m.!

Day 14 Positives:

  1. I am an intelligent person.
  2. I love learning new things.
  3. I am strong and independent.

Day 15 Positives:

  1. My early morning walk withPam Johnson Juliano this morning. It was great to finally get to catch up, AND get some exercise in at the same time!
  2. Seeing Casey get so excited about books. She used to HATE reading, but now she loves it. I bought her a new book last night, as it’s the final book in a trilogy she’s been reading, and you would’ve thought I gave her diamonds…she was so excited…LOVE!
  3. I am choosing to take the necessary steps to make my dreams come true.

Day 16 Positives:

  1. Being sick doesn’t scare me anymore. I look at it as an opportunity to dig deep and find my strength to fight it.
  2. Trying new things, if they will help me become happier or better in some way, is wonderful! I’m constantly looking for new things that fit this, and I never regret it, even when it doesn’t work out. It’s how I will fugue out my true purpose.
  3. I tried a regular Coke yesterday because my throat was sore and HATED IT! I ended up throwing it away after only a few sips. I think I’ve finally and totally kicked my love of soda!

Day 17. OK…I have to admit it was hard to find 3 positives today, since I am still dealing with a fever and major body aches. But…I dug really deep and came up with the following:

  1. My mom. She is awesome! She always makes me feel better. Especially yesterday.
  2. My dad. He is also awesome, and never lets me forget how much he loves me, no matter what. It meant a lot that he took the time to let me vent yesterday.
  3. My walk this morning. Yes, even with a fever and aches, I made myself get up and meet my friend for a walk. It did me good because it made me focus on something other than feeling like poop.

Day 18 Positives:

  1. My fever seems to have broken, and my body aches are definitely not as bad today. Yay!
  2. Casey impresses me more and more each day. She has really taken the initiative with starting a pet sitting business…she came up with the name, designed business cards, and then put them in all the mailboxes in our neighborhood. She’s got 3 “clients” now, and Iam super impressed with how diligent she is. She truly loves taking care of people’s pets…dogs, cats, hermit crabs…you name it! She is really making me proud!
  3. My yoga students, each and every one of them is a positive in my life. Cool story…last night after the Deep Stretch class I taught, one of my students came up to me and said, “You know, Melanie, I’ve been practicing yoga for 36 years. And I have to say, you are the best teacher I have ever had.” Man! What a compliment! I was speechless and humbled and brought to tears. This is why I do what I do…wow!

Day 19 Positives:

  1. I get alone time with each of my girls today. That is a very rare thing as they get older, it seems, so I’ll take it!
  2. The rain. I love heavy rain in the summer.
  3. Kundalini Yoga. I tried this type of practice today…it’s been a LONG time since I’ve done Kundalini yoga, and it made my shoulders and hips feel so much looser. Just what I needed.

Day 20 Positives:

  1. Diligent banks. Wells Fargo called me yesterday to ask me about some suspicious transactions from Arkansas and Paris. Obviously, I didn’t make those purchases, so we closed my account and I’ll be getting a new card. I am so thankful they caught it before whoever stole my identity wiped out my checking account!
  2. Travis and I make a great team. We got a lot accomplished in our basement yesterday…we should have it ready to be our “entertainment room” in no time.
  3. No plans. I don’t have anything today that is demanding my time, so I get to do whatever I want…which is to continue working on the basement. Never thought I’d hear myself say THAT!

Day 21 Positives:

  1. My friends. Some have been sending me some GREAT music links, some have been letting me vent, and some have been helping me in other ways. Thank you!
  2. Having a plan. I am really working hard to get my life as stress-free as I can. I am finally feeling like I have a solid plan to get there, which I hope will help me in many ways.
  3. I’ve got faith that everything will work out in the best way and according to God’s plan for me.

Day 22 Positives:

  1. I matter. As Charles Dickens said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” And I believe I lighten the burden of my friends and family to the degree that I can.
  2. The unknown is teaching me what I’m made of. It’s scary to venture into new territory, but I know I’ll never move forward if I remain stagnant. So I look at it as an opportunity to grow and learn.
  3. I am getting better at making decisions. I definitely feel like I am able to make a decision and feel good about it more frequently now.

Day 23 Positives:

  1. I can laugh at myself, and I do…a LOT!
  2. The little things. Someone took the time out of their busy day today to check in on me, as they know I’ve had a rough week. That meant so much, and lifted me up.
  3. Letting go. I’m learning day by day to let go of things that don’t serve me.

Day 24 Positives:

  1. River kayaking. Got to do that today on the flat water, and it was very relaxing and beautiful.
  2. Spending time with Travis and the girls. It’s rare that all four of us get time together. I enjoy every minute I can get.
  3. Epsom salts baths. Man, do they make me feel and sleep better!

Day 25 Positives:

  1. Sleeping in. I rarely ever get to sleep in, and my body (and mind) definitely needed it. I am glad I got to today, as I feel so refreshed!
  2. I got the opportunity to devote an entire 40 minutes to meditating yesterday, and 20 minutes today. Lately, I haven’t had that much time to devote, and I could feel the difference…so glad I am finding more time for something so important.
  3. Random acts of kindness. There have been two occasions this week alone where a stranger has taken time out of their own day to do or say something nice to me. It totally makes me happy and puts a smile on my face when these kinds of things happen, and it inspires me to continue doing the same for those I come into contact with.

Day 26 Positives:

  1. I only cried a little moving Morgan in to her dorm. Ok, maybe a little more than a little, but definitely not as much as I thought I would, and THAT is a positive in my book!
  2. Time with a family friend last night. One of our oldest friends from VA is moving to SC, and I got to spend time with her last night. I am so happy she will be closer!
  3. Caramel Frapuccinos. On a hit day like today, they taste like a piece of heaven…yummy!

Day 27 Positives:

  1. Morgan had a good first night at USC. She seems to get along with her roommates, and she connected with a high school buddy today.
  2. Casey is all set to begin middle school tomorrow. Her backpack is ready to go, and she’s already got her outfit laid out.
  3. I was very productive today and feel relaxed because of it.

Day 28 Positives:

  1. Casey had a great first day of 6th Grade…Phew!
  2. I had a great workout atPushpointe ..I love, love, LOVE the Hange10 class! I don’t know if I’ll be able to drive to work tomorrow, but I’ll do my best!
  3. I am loving the book my new doctor is making me read, called “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?”, by Datis Kharrazian. It’s helping me understand the neurological issues I have been experiencing and offering amazing suggestions as to how to improve them. I can’t wait for my next appointment with my doc in September, so we can put a plan in place to get me all better!

Day 29 Positives:

  1. The rain. I know we’ve had a lot of rain this summer, but I still say that nothing beats a summer thunder storm. I love the way it smells outside afterwards…that’s one of the best smells to me!
  2. Less uncomfortableness. Last week, I had to prepare for a food sensitivity test by eating all the foods I’ve been avoiding these past two years, so that we can see if my body builds antibodies to any of these foods over the next few weeks. I thought I’d love eating all those foods again and not having to worry about looking at every single ingredient with scrutiny, but I was MISERABLE…puffy, itchy and lots of joint and muscle pain. I finally went back to my restrictive regimen on Sunday, and today, I feel a LOT better.
  3. Feeling more complete. As I really dig in and start to work on making things happen, I am feeling less stressed and more complete. I finally see progress!

Day 30 Positives:

  1. I successfully made it through 30 days of being able to find 3 positives each day. Many days, I found more than 3 but only posted the 3. It’s nice to look at things from a positive perspective more and more often! It really lifts one up!
  2. I had two productive meetings at work, where we had consensus on all fronts! That rarely ever happens, but when it does, it makes me SO HAPPY!
  3. Love from my old hound dog, Beta. She’s 14.5 years old and hides under the bed most days now. But last night, she hung out in the living room with us and just gave us some love. I love when she’s got the energy to hang with us!

Namaste,

Melanie

PeaceQuote

Lately, I’ve been noticing that I haven’t been as good about practicing my daily meditation. As in, once I stopped to think about it, I realized I’d missed MANY days. Last week, I talked about how I was going to get better at meditating daily…and then, as if the Universe was reading my blog, I saw a post on my friend’s Facebook page about a 21-Day Meditation Challenge being offered by the Chopra Center…this is a FREE program offered online, and I wanted to know more. I’ve done other meditation challenges before, and they were fine, but THIS one really resonated with me. It’s all about meditations that help you find and expand your happiness, and it includes an online journal feature, which I haven’t seen in other challenges I’ve done. I knew this was the one for me, so I signed up (see https://chopracentermeditation.com for more info). It kicked off on Monday (8/11), and it’s not too late to join in, as each meditation is available for 5 days after it posts. If you can’t commit now, you can purchase the whole program for $39.99.

I’ll tell you, this program is amazing so far! I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately where the focus has been on improving happiness, and I’ve also seen many articles in my magazines focusing on the same topic. It seems like everyone is trying to improve their happiness, and I couldn’t be more excited about that. After all, if we’re happy, we’re less likely to experience physical or emotional illness.

Today’s meditation really hit home with me. It’s all about peace, and the mantra for today is Shanti Hum (I am peace). Hmm…I am peace…I never would have classified myself in that way. I feel like most of the time, I am a big ball of stress, no matter how hard I try not to be. After I finished the meditation, I went to the journal to record my thoughts.

The journal asked us to think of a peaceful experience we’d had during a challenging situation, and to imagine that feeling of calm becoming deeper and stronger within your soul to the point where nothing happening in the environment could shake it. It asked us to describe what that kind of peace would feel like physically, mentally and emotionally. And then, “How could this type of peace change your life?”

Oh my gosh, if I could feel that kind of peace all the time, I think I would be a whole new person. So many of my physical health symptoms are made worse by stress, so I know that if I could find my peace and make it last, I would feel so much better. And I think my emotional health would be greatly improved, because maybe I wouldn’t worry so much about EVERYTHING. And mentally, I think I’d be able to focus on the things that will bring me to the next level in my life, which could totally CHANGE my life by allowing me to focus on the things where I feel I could truly make a difference in the world.

What about you? Can you think of a peaceful experience you recently had where you felt totally calm, inside and out? How long did that feeling last? What could you do to bring that feeling back if it’s no longer with you?

It’s important to do things in your life that make you happy. When you’re happy, it’s much easier to be at peace, even when life throws a curve ball your way. And when you find that peace, it radiates through every cell of your body, and others can’t help but be affected in a positive way.

So find your peace. If you can, join in this 21-day Meditation Challenge. Each meditation is only around 20 minutes. Can you take 20 minutes to invest in your happiness? I hope you can and will join me on this challenge. If nothing else, write your own journal entry for the above,and see if you can learn something about yourself from it. 

If you do decide to join the challenge, let me know…we can keep each other motivated and support each other. Let’s get happy!

Namaste,

Melanie

“Take it easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
Don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
And take it easy.”

~~ The Eagles

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(This is where we stayed when we went to the Keys back in April…in this place, it’s impossible NOT to take it easy!)

We are in the tail end of summer at this point. Here in South Carolina, next week is the last week of summer break for my kids…where has the summer gone??? I don’t know about you all, but it’s been a bit challenging to keep myself balanced throughout this summer. I’ve been better this summer than in years past, but it was definitely not easy!

You see, summer is the time of year when the fire element dominates. If we can maintain our balance during this season, we can embody the inherent warmth of the season. But if we can’t, we open ourselves up to imbalances related to burnout. If you notice you are excessively angry or intense, excess sweating, digestive upsets, hives…these are just some of the signs that you’ve got an imbalance going on.

So if you notice an imbalance, what can you do? Well, for starters, RELAX! Seriously. Sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Make that several deep breaths.

Easier said than done, I know. It’s going to be tough for me the next two weeks, for sure. But my physical and emotional health depend on it, so I am working on my action plan now for how I am going to deal with the next few weeks. Here’s my plan:

  1. I’m going to continue finding positives around me every single day. What started as a 7-day challenge has now turned into a 21-day challenge. I am on day 16, so I am thinking that to get through the next couple of weeks, I need to extend some more. How about 30 days? Yeah. That sounds about right.
  2. Walking has proven to be very therapeutic for me. Since I can’t run or cycle right now, due to my failing adrenal system, walking has lifted me out of my depression. Running and cycling outside were my ways of helping me de-stress and get outside more. Since stopping, I’ve been very depressed, because it’s how I connected “live” with people, as I was always running or biking with a group. Well, I’ve been walking lately, and I love it, because it’s gotten me back outside. But I was still mostly walking by myself, and I was missing the connection with other people. So I’m now committed to meeting my good friend, Pam, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings before the sun comes up…this was the first week for us, and I have to say, it was just what I needed…I was SO much happier yesterday after she and I walked! I also agreed to be a pace leader for a walking group that is part of a larger running group I used to run with at the YMCA. I am super excited about getting the opportunity to lead a group, AND to get to know new people. WINNING!
  3. Get to bed on time! I’m normally a person who is in bed by 9:00 p.m., but this summer, I’ve been staying up until around 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. But I am still getting up at my normal time of somewhere between 4:45 and 5:15 a.m. So I have definitely not been getting enough sleep and I can feel it…physically and mentally. I’ve been feeling run down since last week, and as of yesterday, I’ve been running a fever. OK, God! I get it…I need to go to bed earlier! This week I’ve been good so far…I was in bed by 8:00 p.m. on Monday, and by 9:00 p.m. last night. I need to keep it up.
  4. Exercise. Even when I am busy, I can surely squeeze in at least 15 minutes. And every little bit helps. Yoga and strength training are what I am focusing on right now.
  5. Meditate. I’ve been slack on this lately and I can feel how much I need it back. So tonight, before I hit the sack, I will make sure to get in at least 5 minutes, preferably 15. My goal is to commit to 30 minutes per day, but I may have to split that into two 15-minute sessions. Something is better than nothing, right?

That’s my list. I think 5 things is reasonable and achievable. I don’t want to make my action plan stressful, after all, do I? It’s like in the quote above…”Take it easy…don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy…lighten up while you still can…”

What about you? Are you finding that you’re having trouble right now with keeping things relaxed and chillaxed? If so, what are YOUR plans to get things back in balance? Share with me! I am always on the lookout for new ways of approaching things…I bet others are as well.

Namaste,

Melanie

“This we know; all things are connected like the blood that unites us. We do not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” ~~ Chief Seattle

This past week, I’ve really enjoyed seeing all the people who took me up on my Facebook challenge to post three positive things each day for a total of seven days. At the end of MY seven days, one of my friends suggested that maybe I should keep going for a total of 21 days, seeing as how it takes about that long to form a habit. I decided she was on to something, and have continued posting three things each day…I am now on Day 10.

Also, I came across a really cool Web site called “Daily Challenge” (http://challenge.meyouhealth.com). If you sign up (it’s free), you’ll get a daily challenge e-mailed to you. These challenges can be anything from trying a yoga pose to researching insect bites to trying a new food. It’s pretty cool, and you can even invite friends to join you and create pacts with each other. I signed up, and several of my friends are doing it with me…I love it!

Today I came across the quote above by Chief Seattle, and it really struck a chord with me because these past few weeks, I’ve been working really hard to be more positive, to connect more meaningfully with others around me, to be HAPPIER. And Chief Seattle says it so well…everything is connected to each other. We are all connected to each other.

Every person I tagged to join in on the seven days of positivity, I chose for a reason. Some are already people I find to be positive all the time, so I thought it was important for them to radiate that out and perhaps “infect” others who need a little more positivity in their lives. Some are people who I know are going through tough times right now…and I thought that maybe challenging them to do this might help get them out of whatever rut they are in, especially if they can see that there really IS something good to be found in every single situation.

Some people didn’t jump on the bandwagon, and that is totally cool with me. I get it. Some people just may not be ready yet. I’m not giving up, though. I am loving seeing all the positive things being posted, and it’s inspiring me and lifting me up more and more each day. Eventually, I just KNOW it will “infect” everyone. It has to, right? Because we are all connected. And whatever we do to that web called life, we do to ourselves and it affects everyone around us.

So get connected! Don’t isolate yourself if you’re down…get out there and let your guard down, and believe me, someone will be there to help you pick up the pieces. It’s why I am working so hard to build up the yoga community I am a part of here in the Fort Mill area. I am really working hard to encourage my students to get to know each other, as I am getting to know them. I am venturing out and taking classes more frequently at a variety of places, so that I can meet and connect with even more people who share my passion. It isn’t easy for me, as I think I’ve mentioned before that I am an introvert. But it is therapeutic for my entire being, so I am putting myself out there and getting more and more comfortable each day.

What are you doing to get connected with your world? Are you doing things that help you expand outside of your comfortable bubble? If not, what’s stopping you? I’d love to have you share what works for you, as I am always looking for new ways to challenge myself and connect even more.

Namaste,

Melanie

Hey everyone,

I have never done this on my blog before, but I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from a partner in a mineral suncare brand called Block Island Organics (www.blockislandorganics.com).  They have a line of sunscreen products for adults and kids, and they wanted to know if I would be interested in trying and reviewing their product.

When I read that their philosophy is to actively enjoy the outdoors with the motto “Play Smart. Play Safe. Non-Toxic Suncare.”, I was intrigued.  I checked out their Web site and noticed they really strive to make safe, effective and lovable suncare products, as well as to educate the public on suncare issues.  The business started out of an eco spa on Block Island (which is located in Rhode Island) called Koru Eco Spa (www.koruecospa.com).

After checking out their ingredients, and after verifying that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) gave them a high rating, I agreed to try the product.

Block Island’s sunscreens are non-toxic and mineral based (zinc and titanium), as opposed to chemical based, and include a Baby SPF 30 (this product is zinc only), an SPF 15, SPF 30 and SPF 40 product.  All products are non-comedogenic, vegan formulated, paraben free, phthalate free, nano particle free, artificial fragrance free, non-eye irritating, not tested on animals, and made in the USA. I received the SPF-15 to try out.

blockislandorganics

Here are my thoughts:

Does it Work? Yes! First of all, if you don’t know me in person, then you need to realize that I am a redhead with VERY fair skin…this means that all I have to do is LOOK at the sun shining and I can already feel the burn setting in (Just Kidding)! Seriously, though…I burn within just a few minutes of being outside if I don’t have sunscreen on, so I have to be very diligent. I also sweat. A LOT! It’s a constant struggle for me to find sunscreen that lasts through my sweating.

I used the SPF-15 sunscreen on a really hot and humid day here in South Carolina while I took my dogs on a walk (the walk lasted around 30 minutes). The sunscreen performed very well…no sunburn! Despite the fact that I’d put the sunscreen on over 2 hours before taking my dogs for the walk. The directions say to re-apply every 2 hours, so I wasn’t sure what to expect…but it performed like a champ!

Here are the details on the SPF-15 formula:

Active Ingredients: titanium dioxide 3.50%, zinc oxide 3.50%.

Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe Vera Gel) Juice*, Aqua (Deionized Water), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Carota Saativa (Carrot) Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Eucalyptus Globulus Oil, Glycerin, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Lecithin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil*, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Rubus Idaeus (Rapsberry) Seed Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Oil, Xanthan Gum. (*Certified Organic)

How does it compare to other sunscreens? There were some noticeable differences between the Block Island Organics sunscreen and the products I typically see in stores:

  1. Block Islands Organics reminded me a little of the sunscreens I used to use when I was a kid, as the ones available way back then (I was born in 1972, by the way) were mineral based as well. This was a little strange at first, since I haven’t used a mineral based sunscreen in YEARS. But the cool thing was that, unlike the sunscreens from my youth, this formula rapidly dried on my skin, and didn’t leave my skin feeling “gloopy” and sticky like most sunscreens.
  2. I am SUPER sensitive to smell, and most sunscreens today are either loaded with artificial fragrances that give me a headache, or they have that “sunscreen” smell. The Block Island Organics sunscreen really doesn’t have a fragrance. When you first put it on, you can smell the natural ingredients (mainly the Eucalyptus), but then pretty quickly, the smell just sort of disappears. LOVE!
  3. Because Block Island Organics sunscreen is mineral based, it does leave a whitish tint on your skin. But if you follow their suggestion of “A little goes a long way”, it really was fine. I put too much on my first arm, and it took me awhile to “rub it in” enough to get rid of the white tint. But the second arm went much better, as I just dabbed on little pea-sized drops along the arm and it rubbed in perfectly.

Do Their Claims Hold Water? After my walk with my dogs, and sweating a LOT on that walk, there were a few areas where the sunscreen had run due to sweating, but it didn’t affect its ability to protect me from the sun. WIN!

Would I Recommend Block Island Organics? Yes, I would. Though I will probably order the SPF-30 or SPF-40, as SPF-15 isn’t always enough for me. It will protect your skin while keeping you from being miserable due to nasty, runny sunscreen. PLUS, it’s all natural…remember, the skin is your biggest organ, so keep it healthy! I particularly love that it has so many ingredients known to be great for the skin (i.e., aloe, coconut oil and shea butter, among others), which makes me comfortable putting it on my face.

Where Can You Get Some? Block Island Organics sells directly through their website, http://www.blockislandorganics.com/. They have offered a discount code for readers of this post, which is valid from July 29 – August 4, 2014. Enter scyogagirl when checking out to receive 20% off your purchase.

Note: I received this product at no charge for the purposes of review. My review was not influenced in any way by Block Island Organics, nor do I receive any proceeds from sales or affiliate referrals. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own.

I hope you decide to buy this product, and if you do, comment here to let me know (and Block Island Organics) how you liked it!

Namaste,

Melanie

“Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.” ~~ Rick Warren

gutpunch

(Photo Courtesy of DeviantArt)

It’s funny how life works sometimes, isn’t it? Things will seem to be going swell, and then out of nowhere, you get hit with something and it feels like a big ol’ punch in the gut. If you aren’t careful, it can knock you down, struggling to get back up again. Usually, we think of BIG things hitting us, like a divorce or someone we’re close to dying. But it amazes me how sometimes, even “small” things can knock someone out for the count (at least, I notice this with myself…anyone else out there have this same experience on occasion?).

So these past few weeks, I’ve been really focusing on incorporating more positive energy into my life. I’ve created daily challenges for my friends on Facebook (which I am doing right along with them), and some of them are designed to help with bringing in more positivity. Also, I was challenged by a friend to post three positive things each day for a total of seven days, and then name three different people each day to do the same. So by the end of the seven days, I will have challenged 21 of my friends to do what I am lovingly referring to as the “7-Day Positivity Challenge”. Pretty cool, don’t you think? I definitely do.

But let me be completely honest. This morning, I was questioning how cool this little challenge actually was. I had one of those days yesterday where I was hit with a couple of things that most would consider to be “small” things. And they WERE small things, but it didn’t feel small to me at the time. Maybe if I’d been hit with them individually on different days, I would have reacted differently. Who knows! All I know is that by 5:00 p.m. yesterday, I’d hit my breaking point.

The one thing that kept me from totally losing my mind was knowing I was going to meet my daughter at a yoga class after work. I walked out to my car, all excited, and then BAM! The parking garage was PACKED! It took me 20 minutes to get out of the garage, and then once I was out, the traffic on the main road was just CRAZY! This set off a full-blown panic attack. I mean, I totally NEEDED to get to yoga, and now I was wondering if I’d ever make it on time. So I closed my eyes (I was at a dead stop in traffic anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt), took several deep breaths (OK, more like 151 deep breaths), and said a prayer. I asked God to please let me get there as quickly as I could, so I wouldn’t miss the class. I also asked him to keep me from panicking to the point that I’d have to pull over…after all, there was nothing I could do to make the situation better, so me freaking out was doing no one any good.

Well, I made it to class. I walked in right as class was starting, so once I changed clothes and claimed my spot, I really only missed the first 5 minutes. So I relaxed a bit…until we did our first chest opening pose. This was an EASY pose! Simply clasping the hands behind your back from a Mountain Pose and then folding forward while keeping the hands clasped behind you. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even clasp my hands from a standing position. WTH! I used to be able to do this ALL THE TIME! All through the class, every chest opening pose we did, I couldn’t do. It felt like I just had this web of steel across my shoulders, chest and upper back, which was limiting me from stretching any of those areas. As class went on, I got more frustrated with myself, and by the time we reached Savasana, I was struggling to keep the tears back.

The whole way home, I just let it out. I can’t remember the last time I had a really hard cry like that. When I got home, I was exhausted, so I took a shower and just went to bed. I didn’t have the energy for anything else but sleep.

That brings me to this morning. When I woke up, I thought about everything that happened yesterday. I thought about why I went into that tailspin of despair over such small things. Then I thought, “Oh God! I’ve got to post THREE positive things for today! How in the world am I going to DO that???”

Well, it got me to thinking. Maybe that’s why this whole “post three positive things each day for seven days” thing got started in the first place. I mean, it’s EASY to come up with positive things the first day or two…we’ve got the standard positive things to say about our families and friends and health, etc., etc. But as you go, you have to dig a little deeper each day for those positive things, and to me, these are the most meaningful. Because these are the ones we really have to THINK about. Get it?

This morning, I finally got it. And it was nice. I was able to come up with three positive things, despite still being in a rather crappy mood. And doing so made me feel a little bit better and a little more positive.

There are going to be days, for ALL of us, that are challenging. That’s life, right? I love the quote from Rick Warren above…he’s totally right. We can’t just magically be positive. It’s a process, and it takes time. We’re always going to have ups and downs, so we have to appreciate the journey and discover who we are along the way. When you find yourself down for the count, it’s how you choose to react to the situation that will eventually define who you are and how people see you.

So…what will YOU do when you get sucker-punched by life? Me? I will strive to look for the positive things, even if it’s hard to do…they are there. All I have to do is open my eyes and see them.

Namaste,

Melanie

“Don’t ever criticize yourself. Don’t go around all day long thinking, ‘I’m unattractive, I’m slow, I’m not as smart as my brother.’ God wasn’t having a bad day when he made you… If you don’t love yourself in the right way, you can’t love your neighbour. You can’t be as good as you are supposed to be.” ~~ Joel Osteen

LoveYourself(Picture above Courtesy of Date Safe Project)

Before I get into the meat of this particular blog post, I want to take a moment to thank all of you out there. You probably don’t realize it, but you all provide me with SO MUCH inspiration…all the time! Many of you have taken the time to respond to my posts and also to tell me what you’d like to see more of. And it seems like most of you want to see more things that will inspire you to be a better person. Perfect! I want the same for ME, so it looks like we’re on the same page. WINNING!

The cool thing is that, as I work to find things to inspire all of you, I end up finding inspiration for myself. And your comments inspire me even more, which inspires YOU even more, and….well, I think you get the picture. It feels like we’re starting an Inspiration Revolution, wouldn’t you say? Woot woot!

So this week, for kicks and giggles, I wanted to see what would happen if I posted a Daily Challenge on my Facebook page. I’ve only posted three so far, but already I’ve gotten some decent response. If you’re not one of my Facebook friends, here are the three I posted this week:

  1. Say something nice to YOURSELF today.
  2. Say or do something nice for someone else. Pay it forward.
  3. Get outside! Spend at least 5 minutes outside today, sans distractions (that means put your phone away!) and simply notice the sights, smells and sounds that you encounter. This is good for the soul!

It’s interesting…the first one got 18 “Likes” and a few responses. The second one got only 5 “Likes”, but also got a fair number of responses. The last one…well, I only posted it this morning and I am writing this post during my lunch break…but it’s surpassed the first one already.

It got me to thinking…is #2 really that difficult, or is it just coincidence that it got the least number of “Likes”? Is it really that hard to say or do something nice for someone else? Maybe. In my opinion, we first have to like and be nice to ourselves before we can authentically do the same for others. If you’re not right with yourself, you’ll come across as “fake” when trying to do something for other people. And don’t you agree that it’s hard to be nice to others when you’re down on yourself? If talking positively to yourself is new for you, start by finding something good to say to yourself when you’re on your yoga mat…it can be as simple as saying, “Wow, my hamstrings are feeling more flexible today!”

It all ties back to the whole positive energy thing I’ve been writing about for the past two weeks. The more positive we can be, the more we’ll exude that vibe to those we come into contact with. And once we’re there, it’s easy to do items #1 and #2 each and every day, not just when someone (i.e., ME) challenges you to do so. It shouldn’t be a challenge to be nice to yourself and to others…it should come NATURALLY. But so often, it just doesn’t. For a variety of reasons. We need to stop that, and I mean NOW!

So my plea to you this week is to do all three of the things I listed above. If you’re having trouble with #1 and #2, then doing #3 might be a good place start. At this time of year, how can you help but come away from a walk outside with anything but gratitude? OK, OK….I know it’s really hot in some locations right now, but surely you can find a time of day where you can retreat within nature and get away from all the stress and distractions for at least 5 minutes. For me, first thing in the morning, as the sun is coming up, works great. Or right as the sun is going down. I resonate with sunrises and sunsets, so maybe that’s why I like being outdoors at those times, no matter what time of year it is.

Let me know how these three things go. And if you want to get in on my daily challenges, send me a Friend Request on Facebook and get in on the action. Until next week!

Namaste,

Melanie

“Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you, when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.” ~~ Barbara Marciniak

einstein-hloa-708x404
(Photo courtesy of Awake Peace)

I just want to start this post off by saying, “WOW!” Just. WOW!

Last week’s post was all about how being more positive in everything we do brings about a loveliness…we can’t possibly be UGLY if we think good and positive thoughts. The topic resonated with me, which is why I chose to write about it…but what amazed me was how many of YOU resonated with it as well. WOW!

So many comments came in to me about that post, it humbled me. I always worry when I put myself out there a little bit and say what’s REALLY on my mind, but it was authentically ME so I figured what the heck…go for it! I am SO GLAD I did.

Throughout this past week, I read the post several times (most specifically when I found myself starting to do that whole negative self talk thing, you know?), and every time I read it, it sunk in a little bit more. I think that maybe, just MAYBE, the gorgeous sunbeams inside of me are starting to shine through. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you saw that yesterday, I had four separate people take time out of their busy days to say something to me that totally lifted me up. I’d like to think they took the time out for me because my earnest attempts at being more positive are starting to pay off…surely they wouldn’t have taken time for me if I was radiating a “Miss Negative” vibe, right?

At the end of the class I taught tonight, I shared the quote above by Barbara Marciniak, and it seemed to hit home with others, in the same way it hit home with me. Pretty darn cool, in my opinion! I love it when, by sharing a piece of my soul with others, it sparks a new connection.

I’m telling you, bring some positivity into your life and things will soar for you! If the positive energy is radiating from you, if it’s authentic, others will notice. They notice in a BIG way! And I am convinced it rubs off on them a little, too. It’s happening all around me, that’s for sure. I am starting to see more and more good coming my way. All I had to do was change my perspective and open my eyes…and there it was, in all its glory.

Focusing on the positive things seems to be hard for so many people I know. Therefore, I think this topic is worthy of focusing on for another week. So if I am lucky enough to have your beautiful and lovely faces in class with me this coming week, get ready to get positive! The world is your oyster, if you let that positive energy radiate from within. Things will start to happen in a way you may not have ever imagined, if you just emit your own frequency and put it out there into the Universe. As Albert Einstein said, “Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.”

Namaste,

Melanie

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