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“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” ~~ Arthur Conan Doyle

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(My husband and our dog, Delta)

As I thought about what I wanted to write about this week, I immediately decided that I wanted to focus on the topic of what’s important in life. At this time of year, when the holiday season is about to hit, I think it’s critical to reflect on what’s really important in life. We can get so caught up in buying expensive gifts for the people we love (and even for people we barely know), trying to outdo what we did last year and “one up” ourselves, that we forget what it’s all about. It’s not about how much something costs or how big it is. It’s about the thought behind it, the sentiment. Sometimes, the best gifts of all cost absolutely nothing in terms of dollars, but they are worth more than anything in terms of the feelings and love that went into it.

So as I sat down to write this post, I kept getting interrupted. First by my youngest daughter, wanting to know if we could watch a family show together and just spend some time together. She wanted to tell me about her day — what had happened at school, what she did when she got home from school. That took us up to 7:30 p.m., and I started fretting about having time to write this. Then, I sat down again, and my old hound dog (Beta, who is almost 14 years old) jumped on the couch and started loving on me, wanting to get a good rub down and some good old fashioned cuddling — it’s cold outside tonight, and she wanted to be right up on me, getting nice and toasty. That lasted until about 8:15 p.m. Again, I started to fret.

But then, as I thought about it, I was doing exactly what I wanted to be writing about — focusing on what is important. And to me, what’s most important is spending time with my family — humans and canines, alike. I immediately wanted to include the picture above in this post. It’s my husband and our chocolate lab, Delta, who passed away this past July. This picture makes me cry every time I look at it. Not because it makes me sad, but because it captures so beautifully how important she and my husband were to each other. The love between the two of them simply jumps out of the photo at you, don’t you think?

This is the kind of love I have for my family. I know I have my days where they probably question my love. Those days when I am grumpy and take it out on them for no good reason. But I hope, more than anything, that they know how important they are to me. They are my world, and my life would be nothing without my husband, my daughters, my dogs, my parents, and the rest of my family. They love me, unconditionally. Just the way that I love them.

So at this time of year, as the holidays are about to hit, I try to remember that it’s the little things that matter the most. Spending quality time together, listening as someone recounts their day to me, offering words of encouragement when called for, rubbing a belly (for my canines, of course!).

What’s important to you? What are the things that matter the most? These are the things that define who you are. It’s what people will remember about you, what you will leave behind. It’s never too late to redefine your legacy. Use this time of year to take stock of who you are and to figure out what’s really important to you. Let go of everything else. Everything that does not serve you in a way that will help you be the person you want to be is waste. Make room for the important things, for these are the things that make your life rich.

Namaste,

Melanie

“Accepting means you allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling at that moment. It is part of the isness of the Now. You can’t argue with what is. Well, you can, but if you do, you suffer.”  ~~ Eckhart Tolle

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) is definitely a pose I “forget” about more frequently than I care to admit, both in my own personal practice and in the classes I teach. For someone like me who is chronically tight in the hip flexors, quads, chest and shoulders…well, Bow Pose is extremely challenging. Whenever I do spend the time practicing it, I always feel like I bring a lot of emotions to the surface…hmm, maybe that’s why I avoid it many times.

Dhanurasana(Photo Courtesy of YogaJournal.com)

Bow Pose is a backbend, and as you can see from the picture above, it’s a pretty deep backbend. Backbending poses are said to be mood lifting. However, to achieve Bow Pose, you must prepare by practicing postures that open up the chest, shoulders, hip flexors and quads — all the places where I tend to hold on to stress and tension. So when I spend a lot of time working on opening these areas, and then open these areas even more by moving into Bow Pose (or some variation of it), I feel like I am overwhelmed by extreme emotions that rise to the surface — both the “feel good”, energizing ones, as well as all the “junk” I let go of when I release the stress and tension in my muscles.   I always walk off my mat feeling drained and like I am pretty much useless for the rest of the day, as I feel like I need to contemplate everything I just dredged up. Is it just me, or do others of you out there experience this as well?

This week, we’ll be working on Bow Pose in class. As I mentioned above, it’s great for opening up the chest, shoulders, hip flexors and quads. But it also provides the following additional benefits:

  • Mobilizes spine
  • Stretch the abdominal muscles and tone the abdominal organs
  • Strengthen the gluteus muscles and the hamstrings 
  • Strengthen low back
  • Relieves some forms of low back pain
  • Therapeutic for asthma, opening accessory muscles of breathing

If you haven’t practiced this pose a ton, be prepared to experience an opening like you’ve never felt before. And if you notice a lot of emotions hitting you that you didn’t expect, acknowledge everything presenting itself to you. Accept that this is what you’re feeling and where you are RIGHT NOW. You never know what you might learn about yourself, just by taking the time to focus and listen.

Namaste,

Melanie

“Remember, it doesn’t matter how deep into a posture you go – what does matter is who you are when you get there.” ~~ Max Strom

DancerPosePhoto courtesy of http://www.magnetictimes.com.au/article-1713.html

Dancer Pose (Natarajasana) is one of the yoga poses that never fails to frustrate me. With my tight hip flexors, quads and chest, it’s virtually impossible for me to find a variation resembling anything at all like what you see in the photo above. In the early years of my practice, I remember pushing myself so hard physically in this pose, trying in vain to achieve what my ego said I should be striving for. More often than not, I’d end up very disappointed in myself, frustrated with my lack of flexibility.

Fast forward quite a few years to the present, and I have a much different outlook. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, then you know that I’ve been working very diligently over the last year or so to refine and rejuvenate my yoga practice. And as you know, it’s taken on a much different flavor than what it used to be. Now, when I step on my mat, I am much better about tuning in and figuring out what my body and mind are craving, and I make sure to engage in a practice that will satisfy my entire being. Not perfect by any stretch, but my practice is definitely moving in the right direction.

While my yoga practice has evolved during this time, it’s also spilling over into my life off the mat. I am SO Type A, it’s not even funny! I’ve always been that person who has to plan out everything, explaining every single little detail, and make sure everyone knows “the plan”. While that’s great for some things, it doesn’t always work. Because when things don’t go as planned, I’m like a fish out of water, totally freaking out and feeling like it’s the end of the world. This rigidity creates so much more stress in my life, and I finally see that it’s not good for my health and well-being, so I am now trying my best to take what I’ve learned ON the mat over this past year or so and get better at applying it to my LIFE.

And, like my struggles with Dancer Pose, I will probably falter and tumble a few times as I find my way. But find my way I will, and I know that I will get better at figuring out who I am as I go. I can’t wait to see the person I am when I finally arrive!

Namaste,

Melanie

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