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If you’ve never done yoga before, you might be wondering, “What’s the big deal? Why do I need yoga, anyway?” Yoga has been big in the news for quite a few years now, so you have probably heard that it provides many physical, mental and spiritual benefits. It’s been proven to improve happiness and health, but so do a lot of things. So why yoga?

Conversely, if you’re already a yogi, you already know what yoga can do for you. But sometimes, no matter how beneficial you know yoga is for you, you get stuck in a rut. For whatever reason, you’re just not getting what you need anymore, and you need to get back in the groove.

If you need to be convinced to give yoga a try, or you just need a boost to get you back in the groove, here are 10 signs that you really need yoga in your life…like RIGHT NOW! I’m a huge fan of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck…” routines, so I’m presenting this list to you in that style…enjoy!

Jeff-Foxworthy
(Jeff Foxworthy photo, courtesy of Little Things)

  1. If you’re restless…you might need yoga! Seriously, if you are exhausted but can’t seem to sit still, or you find yourself wired up and unable to chill out, yoga can help. It incorporates relaxation techniques that help you get better at understanding when you’re stressed, as well as techniques on how to let those stresses go. And once you figure that out, the empowerment you feel can’t be beat!
  2. If you can’t sleep…you might need yoga! With yoga, you can learn to incorporate meditation, which can help you better deal with what I refer to as the “monkey mind”. What is the “monkey mind”? It’s the mind that is constantly racing with uncontrollable thoughts, which can keep you from being able to get the quality sleep you need. Meditation helps you learn how to release those thoughts that are not serving you in any beneficial way.
  3. If you can’t make a decision to save your life…you might need yoga! Noticing you have trouble making up your mind, even over the smallest of things? The focus that yoga provides can help you better open your mind to clearer thinking. And when you can think clearly, you can better understand your own desires and goals….which lead to better decision-making.
  4. If you can’t properly focus…you might need yoga! If you have trouble keeping your attention on one thing, then completing tasks feels impossible. I’ve noticed lately that, for me, I can’t seem to keep my focus on the book I am trying to complete. I keep having to read chapters over and over again, because I can’t remember what I’ve just read…it’s super frustrating! Maybe you notice that a project you’re working on takes you WAY more time to complete than it should. Yoga incorporates concentration techniques, like helping you learn to balance on one leg, or matching breath with movement, which are great at helping you learn to tame a wandering mind.
  5. If you can’t control your emotions…you might need yoga! Let’s face it, we all overreact over things sometimes. But if you find that you’re freaking out most of the time, or are having reactions to situations that you know deep down are out of proportion, then yoga may be just the thing you need. Yoga calms your nerves and helps to release stress and tension, which helps bring inner peace. When you have that, you’re able to see the situation for what it is and respond appropriately. And when you can do THAT, you may find you’re more comfortable sharing your feelings and thoughts with others.
  6. If you no longer enjoy social situations…you might need yoga! Today, social media is EVERYWHERE. And I don’t know about you, but most of what I see has shattered my self-esteem on more than one occasion. All those beautiful pictures of people looking so put together and happy all the time…well sometimes, when I am having a “less than perfect” day, it makes me feel inadequate when I see posts like that. Enter yoga. Yoga is great in helping you learn to leave your ego at the door and becoming comfortable with who you are. I won’t lie to you…it’s not always easy to do this. Sometimes, it involves tears and frustration to get yourself to the point where you learn to love yourself unabashedly. But when that finally happens, like FOR REAL, you won’t believe how confident you’ll feel! And when you’re confident, you’ll feel more comfortable around others in a group setting.
  7. If you can’t cope in healthy ways…you might need yoga! When things get tough, do you turn to alcohol? Drugs? Food? If the habits you have are not good for you in the long run, then maybe it’s time to ditch those habits for some that ARE. Yoga is a practice that sees health and happiness as a lifelong journey, so establishing a regular yoga practice for yourself might just be the best habit you ever adopt. I mean, who doesn’t want to be happy and healthy?
  8. If you can’t breathe…you might need yoga! Now to be fair, I’m not talking about not being able to breathe AT ALL. If that’s happening, you need to call 911, baby! But, if your typical breathing is shallow, or if you sometimes feel like you aren’t remembering to breathe easily, then yoga can help. Yoga puts a HUGE emphasis on proper breathing, reminding us to pay close attention to our inhales and exhales and to deepen the breath. Usually, when we breathe shallowly or forget to breathe, it’s because of stress we’re not able to properly deal with. This deep breathing we learn in yoga helps to calm the mind, which releases that stress we’re holding onto. And when we can do that, breathing properly simply becomes second nature.
  9. If you have poor posture…you might need yoga! Do you sit for long periods at a computer screen? Do you constantly complain of a sore back or neck? If you can’t keep your spine in proper alignment due to long periods of sitting or standing in a non-ergonomic way, yoga might just become your new best friend. A physical yoga practice helps you build strength and flexibility, which can lead to better alignment in the things your body does. Yoga also helps us become more aware of what our bodies are doing, so it becomes easier to recognize when we’re doing something incorrectly.
  10. If your body is stiff…you might need yoga! When you get out of bed each morning, your muscles and joints might experience a stiffness you can’t seem to shake. It might even be downright painful. This only gets more challenging as we get older, as it becomes more difficult with age to stay limber. Yoga postures can help not only to stretch the muscles, but they also help to lubricate the joints. You’ll feel like a spring chicken in no time!

Do any of these signs resonate with you? I’m willing to bet the answer is yes for a good number of you reading this. If so, then you’ve already accomplished the big step of becoming aware of what you need. Now all you need to do is take the necessary steps to start incorporating yoga as a regular part of your life…either for the very first time, or to re-establish what you know can make you feel oh so good!

Namaste,

Melanie

“I have worn my heart on my sleeve because it is too painful to carry it inside my chest. When I carry it on my sleeve, it has the freedom to exist, to beat in rhythm with the Universe. I feel like I’m more alive and yes, there are those who out of curiosity will say or do things that can cause its delicate existence to feel pain and sorrow. I would rather deal with that, than to put it back in its little cage where it knows nothing else but the rhythm of my body and my Ego. My heart was never meant to be part of my Ego. My heart was meant to experience the Soul.” ~~ C. C. Campbell

It’s been over two months since I last posted. Believe me when I say that it wasn’t my intention at all to take a hiatus. It’s weird, since I’ve been posting monthly, and sometimes even more than that, for years now. But as I mentioned in my last post, I enrolled in an Integrative Wellness & Life Coach program with the Integrative Wellness Academy, and I’ve been working really hard to make my way through. I decided that to focus on all the material the way I needed to, I needed to cut back in some areas. Unfortunately, my blogging was where I decided to cut, temporarily. But now….I’m BAAACK!!!

At this point, I’ve completed my program, and literally just found out that I passed…with a 100% on both the final exam and the practicum! Let me just say that I truly feel I chose a stellar organization for my certification. They are totally in line with everything I believe, and I love that the focus is on addressing all four areas of a person…Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual. If you aren’t addressing all four when coaching a client, then science shows that the ability to make lasting changes is not as likely. I am so excited to start working with people. I’ve got a few already, who I’ve been working with for free, so that I can get more practice and build my confidence. I hope they know how grateful I am for their willingness to put their trust in me to help them through the things they are trying to work on.

Throughout this entire process, I’ve been going through the process of being coached myself. After all, how can I expect to help others and feel confident that the tools and techniques work if I haven’t been through the process myself, right?

As I made my way through my own “stuff”, I realized I had a lot of deficiencies in the emotional realm. I don’t typically do a good job managing my stress, I don’t express my feelings very well when I am especially worked up about something, and I’m not one to relax and practice self-care by nature. So I spent a LOT of time working on these things over the past few months. And I must say, I really feel like I improved in this area tremendously. And the most important thing I did to get myself to the next level was to be more open.

Those of you who know me probably think I am already pretty open. But as I really dug deep within, I realized how much I bottle up my true feelings. I am always holding back, for fear of upsetting someone if I tell them what I REALLY think. And there are so many things that I’ve been through in my life that I have never shared with anyone. Not a SOUL!

But as I made my way through the process, I realized that all the things I’ve been through have made me who I am. And you know what? I actually, FINALLY, like who I am. No…scratch that…I LOVE who I am. Yes, that’s right…I actually LOVE myself. After all, how can I expect anyone else to love me if I don’t love myself?

Keeping everything inside for as long as I did…well, that’s what made me depressed. I felt like I had no one I could confide in. Or that people would judge me. And there were some things that I just needed to get off my chest, but I couldn’t. So I kept them inside and it festered. But going through this process made me realize that keeping things to myself — important things — is not healthy. And it’s selfish. Because there might be someone else out there, going through the same things I’ve been through, and maybe me sharing my story could help them. Help them realize they’re not alone, you know?

I’ve realized it’s necessary for me to speak my mind. I’ve been baby-stepping my way to that point, but I’ve definitely been able to be more open and honest lately. And while scary, it feels good.  To be able to be ME is kind of refreshing! And I feel like I’ve got WAY less ego than before. When I take on something, I am definitely thinking more about whether or not it is in line with who I am, rather than if it will get me “noticed”. So definitely less ego involved.

And as I go, I find more and more happiness. That’s what it’s all about. We should be doing things in our lives that make us happy. For many of us, it’s doing things for others. Whatever it is for you, make sure you’re doing it from your heart and not from your Ego. Once you get to that point, you will be amazed at how much lighter you feel…how much happier you will be.

Go ahead…give it a try. I dare you!

Namaste,

Melanie

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” – Mandy Hale

“IN THE END… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” – Lewis Carroll

How many of you out there in Blogland take chances on a regular basis? I bet many of us would say yes, thinking of things like trying new restaurants, trying a new food, checking out a new TV show. But what about BIG chances? Things like moving to a new state (or a new country), getting back into the dating game after a long time away, accepting a new job, starting a whole new career? I’m going to guess that many of you would say you’re not quite THAT brave!

Truthfully, I have to admit that I usually fall in the camp of not taking chances. Not the big ones, anyway. I call it the “Why rock the boat?”, or the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Sound familiar? Am I the only one?

Bueller? Bueller? (OK, only you fans of 80s movies will understand that reference.)

Image result for ferris bueller

Well, this past month, I really turned things around and have taken quite a few chances. Big ones! Here’s just a sampling:

  • I mentioned in my last post about how I’d joined a wonderful group of ladies, where our purpose was to better ourselves. Through a variety of daily online challenges, I stepped outside of my comfort zone on several occasions, sharing things I would NEVER have thought I’d share with people I just met, many of whom I only knew virtually through this group. I can remember how queasy my stomach got a few times, thinking, “Should I share this? Are they going to think I’m a freak?!” But every time, I swallowed the fear and went for it, and I gotta tell ya…it felt so FREEING! Each and every time I shared something super personal, it was like a weight had lifted. AND, it connected me with women I didn’t know prior, and I feel like I’ve formed some new friendships, ones that will last the test of time. And these ladies trusted ME with their stuff, too…that is an amazing feeling, to know that someone is trusting me with their deepest emotions. It makes me feel like I’m holding on to something precious…and I am…trust is so, SO precious!
  • I’ve probably mentioned before in posts how much I enjoy teaching yoga to those who are dealing with limitations, injuries and illness. After all, it’s helped me so much with each of these things, and I want to share what I know and help others. Too many times, when we’re experiencing one or more of these things and go to a group class, we feel very out of place because we need so much special attention. And if you’re like me, you end up just not going at all because you don’t want to be “that” person, the one who holds everything up and slows the class down because you need help. Well, my lovely friend, Michele, has been teaching a special class on Sundays for a while now. It’s called “Restorative Yoga for Healing and Wellbeing”, and it is specifically for those suffering from illness, injuries or limitations. After a lovely girls’ lunch with Michele, she asked if I’d be interested in taking it over, as she just has so much on her plate right now. I felt honored she would think of me, as that means she is entrusting me to take care of students who have now become a second family to her. I didn’t hesitate at all…I said yes right away. I surprised myself, to be honest. I’ve taught to special needs people before, but usually one-on-one, in a private session. But THIS…this will mean I have to cater to a whole variety of conditions all at once. Which means I’ll have to let go of my OCD-like need to make every class feel like it’s flowing with a kick-ass playlist. I envision myself running around throughout this class, making sure everyone has the props they need so they don’t hurt themselves. Sure, I can do all that and still maintain a relaxing and calm atmosphere…right? Right?(Bueller? Bueller?…)

There’s one other BIG one, but it’s not one I can share publicly just yet. I’ll cover that one in my next post. I promise.

I’ve mentioned in prior posts how chaotic things can get when change comes about. And let’s face it…most of the time, when you take a chance with something new, you’re going to experience change. It’s inevitable. When the time comes and you decide it’s time to take a chance, I think it’s important to do the things you need to do in order to stay grounded. If you don’t, then the chaos (or the “swirl”, as I sometimes refer to it) can overtake and overwhelm you. If you let that happen, you’re more likely to fail, or worse yet, you’re more likely to avoid taking chances in the future.

I know I usually only post one quote in each of my posts, but the two I’ve included up above just spoke so profoundly to me, I had to use both of them. They literally made me tear up when I heard them, as they were spoken at exactly the moment I needed to hear them. And hearing them let me know that these chances I’m taking are worth it. And they also reminded me that without taking these chances, I’ll continue to feel “stuck” and unable to grow.

Anywho, to deal more effectively with all this swirl that is here now, and the swirl that is yet to come, I’ll be focusing on yoga poses and techniques that stimulate the Root (Muladhara) Chakra. This is the chakra that, when balanced, helps us feel grounded, safe and connected to the earth. When it’s out of balance, fear takes over and wreaks havoc…we become suspicious of others, indecisive, overwhelmed, and overly dependent on others. And who wants THAT? Not me!

Some poses I’ll be including in my practice regularly while I am dealing with all the swirl are:

  • Easy Seated Pose (Sukhasana)
  • Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1)
  • Triangle (Trikonasana)
  • Grounded Airplane (Virabhadrasana III variation)
  • Balancing Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)
  • Seated Tree (Janu Sirsasana)
  • Supine Bound Angle (Supta Badha Konasana)
  • Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Also, I’ll be giving myself foot massages, as this can do wonders with helping a person feel grounded. Try it yourself…take your fingers between your toes to stretch them and feel your base. Your base is what helps you feel grounded.

And knowing myself the way I do, I need to be extremely faithful to my meditation practice during this time of swirl. I’ve been experiencing a relapse with my Lyme symptoms, and I know it’s because I haven’t been doing a good job with managing my stress and anxiety. My meditation practice has always helped me in these areas, so I need to make the time for it.

Maybe you’ve been afraid to take chances in your own life. Believe me, I totally get it. I’m the same way, but I finally got to the point where I was tired of feeling stuck and feeling regret at letting things pass me by. So I encourage you to try it for yourself. If you’re letting fear keep you from growing, from taking a chance that could prove to be something wonderful, then I challenge you to stop letting it hold you back. Take the chance. Will you fail? Maybe. But if you don’t even try, you’ll never know what could have been. And if you DO fail, there’s a lesson in it that will help you for the next time. So go ahead…take a chance, already!

Namaste,

Melanie

A few posts back, I talked about how I gave my first speech in Toastmasters back in December. This month, I completed my 4th speech! I’ve decided to focus each of my speeches on something that helps people find happiness in their lives, as I truly do feel like it’s my mission in life to help others find happiness. Maybe at the end of my 10 speeches (that’s how many you have to do in order to complete the Competent Communicator series), I’ll have my material all set for my first book. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

This latest speech was titled, “Don’t Be So Serious!” It focused on getting across the message that when embarrassing things happen to you, or you make a mistake, do what you can to roll with it and not dwell on it. Because if you dwell on things, you’ll be miserable. Look for the lesson in the situation, and learn from it…and you’re on your way to finding your happiness.

I started off my speech with a clip from the movie Sixteen Candles. If you’ve seen the movie (from WAY back in 1984), you probably remember the scene where Sam’s grandparents see her for the first time in awhile and notice she’s “gotten her boobies” (tee hee hee!). Here’s the clip in case you don’t remember, or haven’t seen the movie…you only need to watch the first 1:10 of the clip.

After watching the clip, I launched into my OWN embarrassing story, which had the room cracking up (which was EXACTLY what I was hoping they’d do, by the way). Here’s the story I shared:

It was about 10 years ago. My husband, daughters and I were at the grocery store to get some items we needed for a party we were hosting the next night. We had a lot of things to get, so I gave half the list to my husband and older daughter, while my younger daughter and I took the other half of the list.

We were zipping through the aisles, putting the necessary items into the cart, checking off the list…things were going SPLENDIDLY! And then…I turned down the pasta aisle.

As I was strolling along, I saw my husband up ahead, so I figured I’d catch up to him and see where he was on his half of the list. As I got up behind him, I “passed gas”. It was SUPER loud and quite stinky. My husband HATES when I do stuff like that (it happens more often than I’d care to admit), so I figured I’d make light of the situation by saying, “That was a good one, wasn’t it?”

He turned around and said, “It sure was lady!”

O.M.G.!!! This wasn’t my husband! It was some random guy with a similar build in a similar outfit, but he was not MY husband!

Yes, I think you could say I was embarrassed. But, in true “Melanie” fashion, I decided to laugh it off. I looked at the man, smiled, and said, “Looks like my job here is done!” Then I kept strolling down the aisle in search of my REAL husband, so we could skidaddle!

William Arthur Ward said, “To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.” After that incident in the store, I’d like to think I am a bit more mature now! 🙂

If you have a hard time laughing things up…if you constantly dwell on the mistakes you think you’ve made…then now is the time to make a change.

Yesterday, I came across the following article. I am always in search of exercises that can help people tap into their happiness, and I absolutely think this article is a must read for anyone who wants to be happier in their life.

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/6-exercises-positive-psychology-boost-happiness/

The article contains 6 different exercises that can help you in finding happiness, but the first exercise is one that really jumped out at me, because it totally validated everything I said in my speech. Here’s the exercise:

Exercise #1: Three funny things

Write down three funny things you experienced in a given day, and why those things happened. For example, was this something you were directly involved in, something you observed, or something spontaneous?

When you can laugh at yourself and your circumstances, it means that you don’t take life too seriously. Best of all, laughing is contagious!

So…what are you waiting for? Invest some time in yourself because guess what? You deserve happiness! We all do, so don’t let it pass you by.

And, if you feel so inspired, I’d love for you to share the things you came up with in the exercise above. You never know how sharing your experiences might end up helping someone else.

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

Bonus post for this week to my readers…I’ve been following this blog for awhile and always love her postings. But this particular post is one I felt really ties in nicely with my May theme of being grounded and balanced. Check it out!

Cast Light

“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” – T. S. Eliot

When we are still . . . our senses awaken to the beauty that remains even when we can’t see, hear, feel, taste and breath through the noise and distractions that can overcome and distort the truth.

We hear the birds singing in harmony;
We feel the soft breeze of a Spring morn;
We see the hues in the sky;
We breath in and absorb the fragrance of flowers bloom;
We empathize instead of judge others because we realize we are in this life together and merely want to be seen, accepted and loved;
Time stands still because we live and appreciate the depth and brevity of each moment.

Be still.

“I drank the silence of God from a spring in the woods.” – Georg Trakl “I drank the silence of God from a spring in the woods.” – Georg Trakl

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“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Warrior-1
(Photo Courtesy of The River Tree)

Last week, I challenged you (as well as myself) to work on using your voice for good, both with others and with yourself. How did you do? I did pretty good when it came to other people, but not so good with myself. I didn’t realize how much I constantly put myself down until I started to pay attention…and I didn’t like that one bit!

So, this week, my focus is to work on establishing and building self-confidence. After all, how can we expect to be nice to ourselves and keep the positive attitude if we have zero self-confidence? The trick is to have the right amount of self-confidence, because if we have too much, then that is perceived as having  too much ego. We don’t want to suppress the ego, as it’s important to have a strong sense of who we are and to have confidence in our abilities. Finding the balance is where the challenge is…we want “just enough” ego, and that’s not always easy to achieve.

In yoga, we can work on developing that balance by working on poses that ground us and help build self-esteem. Some poses that are good for grounding are most standing poses, such as Mountain Pose and Warrior 1. Practicing them in a dynamic and fluid manner can help build your confidence. A nice vinyasa to try is what I call “Flowing Chair”, which works as follows:

  1. Start from Mountain Pose
  2. Inhale and raise arms overhead
  3. Exhale into Chair Pose
  4. Inhale and straighten legs, raising arms overhead
  5. Exhale Mountain Pose
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 as many times as you wish.

Balancing Half Moon, Triangle Pose and Camel Pose are great poses as well, as they help to not only ground you, but they open the chest and improve breathing. Breathing well helps to improve the energy moving through the entire body, which is helpful for building confidence and self-esteem. So work in these poses on breathing fully, finding spaciousness and relaxation.

Most of all, just be yourself. God made you who you are for a reason. Reconnect with yourself this week, really listening to what you have to say. When we can do that, we will be better able to find the things we need to help us feel grounded, rooted, and balanced.

Namaste,

Melanie

“Sun salutations can energize and warm you, even on the darkest, coldest winter day.” ~Carol Krucoff

In general, Sun Salutations are used to warm the body at the beginning of a practice. However, Sun Salutations can be a complete practice in and of itself. If you’ve been to one of my classes, you’ve probably heard me say many times that if you have time for nothing else, you can get a complete workout just by doing a few rounds of Sun Salutations. The wonderful thing about them is that you cover strength and flexibility all at the same time. And if you move one breath for every movement, you may feel cardio benefits as well.

There are 12 basic poses that make up a Sun Salutation. These 12 or so poses linked in a series can can distribute energy (prana) throughout the system, in addition to strengthening the body and adding flexibility. There are many Sun Salutation variations you can choose from, and you just need to choose the one that resonates with you the most.

If you are a beginner to yoga, try this variation as a start. If your preference is a more active, powerful style, try this variation instead.

There are so many benefits to incorporating Sun Salutations into your practice. From a physical standpoint, they open and strengthen the front and back of the body. From an emotional standpoint, they help in bringing the body, breath and mind into balance. And from a prescriptive standpoint, they’ve been shown to help with low energy and poor circulation issues.

This week in class, we’ll be playing around with making Sun Salutations our own. The wonderful thing is that you can add or remove any pose you wish, just as long as you’re moving mindfully and with your breath. In my opinion, THIS is our chance to truly explore and play. Have fun!

Namaste,

Melanie

As many of you know, I’ve been working through shin splints since completing the Savannah Rock & Roll Half-marathon in November. It’s been very painful, and up until last week, it even hurt to walk for more than a few minutes. But after a few visits to my go-to guy at Carolina Performance and Wellness (thank y0u, Ryan!), I feel much better. I also finally found a new massage therapist…my old one retired to go back to work full-time about 8 months ago, and I’ve been on a mission ever since to find someone who could help me the way he did. Monday I hit the jackpot and found my girl…Sibylle is wonderful, and I can’t wait to begin working with her regularly. She got the kinks out of my calf and my back when I went to see her, and I’ve been pain-free since Monday. I can’t remember the last time my back has been pain-free for this many days in a row!

So, this morning, my daughter and I went for a really nice run. It was nice because I could actually RUN the whole way! It was short, because we didn’t have a ton of time, but I didn’t care. I ran almost 3 miles straight without having to stop for pain, and it was like HEAVEN!!! Yay!

One reason I’m so excited about all this is because I really need to get ready to begin my upcoming training for my next half-marathon, which will be the Anthem Shamrock Half-Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA on 3/18/2012. I will be starting my training probably the week of 12/19, so I was starting to get worried that these shin splints were going to get in the way of that.

Another thing I’m excited about is that I’m going to be doing my training for this half-marathon with a new coach, Mark Hadley. He’s been written about in many running publications, as he’s a very well-known coach. He also happens to be the father of Alana Hadley, a 14-year old running phenomenon who I believe just set a world record for the half-marathon for her age group. I personally know two people who have recently hired him to help them meet their goals, and both have said nothing but amazing things about his program and his methods.

I feel lucky that he lives right here in the area, and that his rates are reasonable enough for me to afford his services, and I’m very excited to see where he can take me. Believe me, though…I’ve got no aspirations to win first place in a race or anything like that. My goal is to be able to run for as many days as I have left in this world, and to be able to do it pain-free, so that I can continue to manage my weight, stress and cholesterol. I will miss working with my old coach, as she taught me so much. But I know that she is working on her own running goals, so it is time for me to move on and work with someone new. I’m nervous and excited all at the same time!

My big fear for this next round of half-marathon training is wondering if I can do this. I start my Master’s degree program tomorrow, so am I going to be able to find the time to train for the half and still be able to attend classes, do my homework, work full-time, take my kids to their activities, etc.? Just thinking about all of it makes me sick to my stomach sometimes! But I do have a plan as to how to schedule things, and if I can stick to it, I’ll be fine. I just know it.

My other big fear is gaining weight. For some reason, I gained a few pounds while training for my last half, and after talking to one of my friends, I’m thinking it could be due to high levels of cortisol. I’m still researching all of this myself, but from what I’ve read so far, when you start to run longer distances, your cortisol levels rise…it always rises when you run (it’s the old “fight or flight” thing), but they say that when you run for long distances, it can stay elevated for TOO long. And when you couple it with extreme stress in other areas of your life, it can be at too high a level for the majority of the time, causing weight gain. Hmm…sounds very much like what could’ve caused the weight gain for me, and I’m worried that with the addition of school to my life, it could get worse. So, I am hoping my new coach can help me make sure I’m doing what I need to do in terms of nutrition and cross-training. If I can follow his plan exactly, then I will have a very good chance at not making the same mistakes I did last time. And if I do start to notice weight gain, I’ll know that I need to work with my doctor to test my cortisol levels and see if that’s the cause.

Wish me luck, as I can foresee December being a very busy and crazy and exciting month for me. I am looking forward to getting back into my running routine now that my injury seems to be on the mend, to working with a new coach, and to getting my weight back in check.

Happy running!

 

On Monday, I saw my chiropractor to check out my left leg, since it’s been causing pain for over a week now. Thankfully, it’s nothing serious…just a super tight sartorius muscle, which is a long thin muscle that runs down the length of the thigh. It’s actually the longest muscle in the human body, in case you’re interested. 🙂

The doc was able to work out the tightness, and I am very tender still but definitely feel much looser. I was able to run yesterday, though I took it easy (per coach’s orders) and alternated running for 8 minutes and walking for 2 minutes for a total of 4 rounds. I felt great after and will be able to run tomorrow (alternating 10 min of running with 2 min of walking for a total of 4 rounds)…if I get through that fine as well, then I can run the full length of my long run on Saturday (9-10 miles). Woo hoo! Keep your fingers crossed.

I asked why this happened, since I’ve been so diligent about stretching, doing my yoga and using my stick after runs. The answer should’ve been obvious to me, but wasn’t…when you increase your mileage, as I am in preparation for my upcoming half-marathon, you need to increase the time you stretch…particularly the time used with the stick. So a big “Duh!” on my part, and now I feel like a total idiot. But now I know, and it’s nothing serious, so I feel hopeful again that I just might be able to complete this half-marathon without any walk breaks after all.

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