Archive of ‘2009’ category
Every year around the holidays the thoughts creep in. “I am not doing enough”. “I need to lose weight”. “I need to excersise more”. “I’m not practicing the way I should be”. I hear this pressure in my own thoughts as well as my clients. Maybe it is the business of the season, or the fact that the year is ending and we have things that we wish we had accomplished. These thoughts can be as regular as the turning of the year and the ball dropping in times square.
This year we have the opportunity to relate to them in a different way. Understand that you are doing enough. The fact that you are participating in this process says something. Most of us are doing things differently than we did last year. Maybe you took up a yoga practice. Maybe now you are eating regularly. Are eating foods that have been absent in your life for years? Or you’re drinking less? Or walking more? Have you just read my book? Are you reading uplifting newsletters? What are you doing differently than you were before? You are doing enough and you will continue to grow and change as 2010 unfolds. So enjoy the holidays – celebrate what has shifted this year (no matter how small it may seem) and know that there will be plenty of time to continue to create your life in the way you desire it to be.
May we all experience peace and joy – love and light.
Every year I recommend a charity. This year I’ve picked The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Your donation will support The Food Bank’s work to provide meals to those in need of food assistance, and help to ensure that everyone in the community has access to healthy, affordable food. Your gift makes a difference. For each $1 donated to The Food Bank, they are able to provide $9 worth of food to households in need.
Click here to make a donation: http://www.foodbankwma.org/
If you have the resources please give a couple bucks to this or another organization that feeds people in need.
Loka samasta sukino bhavantu
(May all beings find peace and happiness)
At the studio where I teach, yoga classes are full of students embracing a new season. As we move out of our summer schedules, we are presented with opportunities for change to occur.
This is the great thing about transitions. Seasons, birthdays, illness, etc… All change may allow us to move forward with new energy and determination. The more present we are during each transition, the more we are able to see an opening for change to occur. No longer “trapped” in that which binds us, we are free to move forward in a way that feels in alignment with who we truly are. Practice is the key to that presence.
This month I present you with a challenge – find yourself for a few moments daily. Make this your practice. Can you watch your breath for a few minutes every day?
If you do, you will be presented with the possibility of opening for a positive shift in your life. This shift may feel profound or subtle. I’ve seen people realize that they can take a couple of yoga classes each week. I’ve seen people realize that they do not need to eat candy at work. I’ve seen changes in how individuals approach each day directly resulting in doing their job differently. Or that yogurt makes them sick. We never know what the opening will be.
Honor yourself during this transition of seasons with the practice of being present.
May all beings be free and happy – May we all benefit from one another’s presence.
We are constantly being innundated by nutritional and weight loss information. Hardly a product exists in the grocery store anymore that doesn’t make some sort of health or weight loss claim. This triggers our mind to start spinning—digesting and evaluating the information coming in.
This mental process, however, is the actual problem. It takes us away from our deeper self. It occupies and distracts us from our intuition.
If we pause, feel our feet on the floor, and return to our breath, we have the ability to see this outside information for what it is—distraction. It is from this place that we can participate in deep listening. As we center ourselves, we get the information we need to remain present.
What activities does this body/mind need to feel good? What food do I need to feel more energized? What do I need to do to find and/or maintain a state of relaxation and heightened awareness? These questions are often answered when we move inward.
Find your breath, feel your feet on the floor, and ask yourself what you need. The answers are often simple. Take a ten minute walk. Go to yoga class. Eat a banana. Ignore the external signals and find your own voice today. Do it now. Your mind body spirit will thank you.
May we all find ourselves today.
Slim your belly in 9 minutes. “
That was on the cover of a health magazine I looked at the other day. I’m not sure what was crazier: the assertion, or the fact that I wanted to believe it.
We are inundated with these messages, especially in the summer. The appeal of these messages is overwhelming because they play on our vanity. They attack our self-esteem: they imply that the solution to our “problem” is so easy that we must be weak to not have remedied it earlier. Since we all seem to fall prey to this, I thought I’d write a little mantra for us to hold on to during bathing suit season.
I’d love to look better
Looking better has many components
which may or may not include
health, posture, weight, dress, and happiness
I will chose today to do all I can to improve my situation
This may include
moving around in a way that makes me feel better and have more energy
eating in a way that makes me feel better and have more energy
dressing in a way that makes me feel better and have more energy
keeping company that makes me feel better and have more energy
I commit to noticing any effects this has on myself and those around me.
Be happy and peaceful
There are endless opinions on carbohydrate intake and weight. In many studies, people who eat less carbs have lost weight. Of course, if we look at many of the participants in these studies one or two years later, the weight is back on (and then some).
So what can we reasonably conclude? Pretty much nothing. The studies have little meaning because participants rarely keep eating the same way. No system or diet is useful if it doesn’t help you maintain habits that make you feel better and have more energy.
So when I’m asked the carb question I usually ask my clients a few things:
What kind of carbs are we talking about?
White flour versus whole wheat flour?
White or brown rice?
Which of these foods leave you feeling clear-headed and energized when you eat them?
Which leave you dull and lethargic?
When do you eat these foods and what effect does timing have on their effects?
Can you experiment and come up with a way to eat certain carbohydrate-heavy foods that works really well for you?
For many people, eating less carbs than they are currently eating does help lift energy levels. Sometimes this takes the form of eating more whole carbohydrates (brown rice, whole wheat). Sometimes it eating smaller portions helps. Other times we discover certain foods just don’t work (bread and potatoes are common culprits). And sometimes it’s just timing (too many carbs for breakfast)
So ignore the press, begin listening to what your body is telling you, and the correct answers will come. Find a practice that relieves stress and builds body awareness to help you with this. And, as always, be gentle with yourself
It’s spring—and in alternative health circles, that means it’s time for detoxing, cleansing and fasting.
It seems that everywhere I look—whether it’s in magazines, bookstores, or CVS— someone is trying to sell me a fasting system or detox kit. While these products and systems may have their benefits, weight loss is not one of them. I repeat—these systems will not help you achieve your weight goals. In fact, they will more likely contribute to further imbalance, which will result in weight gain in the long term.
The concept of cleansing ourselves in the spring is a good one, though. Taking some time to reset our mental and physical palates is incredibly beneficial. We take a couple of weeks to take less in, simplify and rest. This will leave us feeling clear-headed and reduce our cravings for food that imbalances us.
So my sugestion for a spring cleanse looks like this:
– Take a two week period to do your cleanse.
– Simplify your diet: cook at home and eat only delicious home-cooked meals. Bring food to work as well.
– Make no social plans—instead, leave time for yourself to do things that relax you. Hot baths, walking, and gardening come to mind.
– if you can, eliminate alcohol, coffee, and sugar from your diet. If you can’t, reduce to a bare minimum.
– Read something you enjoy every day.
– Practice yoga daily, but keep it fun and easy.
– Watch no tv, and take in no news. (Occasional movies are okay)
– Listen to music if you enjoy it.
– If it feels right, spend some time cleaning or organizing your home so it feels better to you.
– Have the intention to find joy in every day
After two weeks, your palate will be clearer and you will be able to make decisions from a more balanced, peaceful place.
As always, email me with questions or comments.
loka samasta sukino bhavantu
May we all be peaceful and happy
What is a yogi, anyway? It is someone who has committed to following a path which leads them to a realization of their spiritual nature.
Okay then—what is this spiritual nature? Well, there are certain things we can say about it. First, it is always there even when we can’t notice it. We get caught up in our mind’s wanderings but that doesn’t change the fact that it exists.
Second, our nature is inherently peaceful. We know this because we have felt it. That moment when you are looking at the sky or ocean or (you fill in the blank) and everything is okay.
Third, it connects us to the world around us. As we feel or recognize this in ourselves, we also see it in the people and things around us. We feel less alone and more at home in the world.
So, what does this have to do with the way we eat? Plenty. As a yogi, we want our practice to extend throughout our day. Eating is part of our day. How and what we eat can directly affect our ability to feel our connection to ourselves and the world around us.
As we shift into eating foods that give us more sustained energy and promote peaceful mental states, the experience of peace is more readily obtained. As we get used to slowing down and taking a few breaths before we eat, we find ourselves able to enjoy the nourishment process. This pleasure from eating allows us to fully integrate the eating process into our spiritual path.
There is a concept in yoga that one should be non-violent in thought
and action—and that by doing this we bring peace to ourselves and
those we come in contact with. One behavior I’ve noticed we humans do
is eat foods that harm us. Often this comes in the form of foods that
drain our energy, and therefore our ability to be our most authentic
selves. By not sharing this fantastic energy with ourselves and
others, we are bringing less peace and more harm to the world.
If flour is your problem, then the bread you eat at lunch every day
makes it difficult to be kind to your coworkers at 3 pm when you are
crashing from it. If sugar is your issue, having some late at night
impedes your ability to wake up in a positive mood and enter the day
on solid ground.
First we must use our awareness practices (like journalling) to
identify these foods. We then can use proper effort to reduce our
intake of these foods. And we can engage in our movement and breathing
practices to support us in this. In this way we practice ahimsa—and
the result is that the world becomes more peaceful.
loka samastha sukino bhavantu
May all beings be free and happy
As always, email me with any comments or questions.
Happy new year!
Like most people, I tend to have some pretty big ideas around this time of year. The rush of the holidays leaves me in mid-January ready to “get stuff done.” Interestingly enough, this is just the attitude that many yoga texts warn us against. Focusing on results (like dropping pounds) instead of the state we would like to cultivate for those pounds to come off (being present to our needs) is a mistake we humans make over and over again.
This year will be different for all of us, though. This year we commit or re-commit to our practice. Our practice takes many shapes:
Breathing practices (pranayama)
Staying in the present
Getting enough sleep
Eating foods that make us feel good
Eating in a way that bring us more energy
This practice allows us to be ourselves. To feel the prana (energy) that flows through us and connects all things. As we stay present to this feeling (in our bodies), we naturally do what we must to keep this energy flowing. This is the key to lasting weight loss—an addiction that’s actually good for us.
May we all experience that which nourishes us all.