Month: August 2019

Wellness Wednesday: Is Fear So Bad?

Fear is this physiological response that we all have experienced when there may be potential danger. There are times, however, that fear dominates us so often that it keeps us from fully enjoying life. Fear is often viewed as a feeling that robs us from the life we desire by tearing us down to eventually turn us powerless.

But fear is an innate instinct. Fear can be healthy. Fear is something we work with rather than against. Fear invites us to grow. It encourages us to experience new situations, introduces us to new people and liberates us from the lack of momentum our life may have time to time. We may act out in fear and look back wishing we had made different action for a different outcome on a situation. When we learn that we can work with fear, we also learn that we have the powerful ability to observe our fear and make wiser decisions as we detach from such a strong emotional reaction. When our mind and soul are in alignment we create space within ourselves to take on a new experience of reality.

Overcoming a fear can seem like a big leap. Whatever it may be, it is essential to start small. When we confront a fear we have the ability to acknowledge and analyze our thought process, view the fear from multiple types of perspectives and then decide how we may act on our fear. The small dosage of adrenaline our body fires followed by a moment of calm can ensure that we are safe. As we continue to repeat this sequence we only gain confidence now that we learned we are never given more than we can handle. We learn that temporary discomfort is a small price to pay for the development of ourself and that fear really isn’t so bad.



Mindful Monday:

Good morning, beautiful mindful ones!

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

Here’s a short story about life.

There was once a man who had been wounded by a poisoned arrow. And when his family wanted to find a doctor to help him, the man said no.

The mortally wounded man said that before any doctor tried to help him, he wanted to know who had attacked him. What was his caste and where was he from?

He also wanted to know this other man’s height, strength, skin tone, the kind of bow he used, and whether its string was made of hemp, silk, or bamboo.

So, as he wondered if the arrow’s feathers came from a vulture, peacock, or falcon, and whether the bow was common, curved, or made of oleander, he ended up dying before getting an answer to any of his questions. 

How often do we this? Focusing so much on every myriad, irrevelant detail of the past, that we literally sacrifice our future?

Focusing on the past robs us of our ability to fully experience the present, to enjoy every moment of the journey and to appreciate the beauty of life. Through yoga, we continually practice staying present in the moment. To focus, breathe, observe as we empty the mind of everything but right now.

That’s exactly why we practice balancing poses! We are forced to feel the entire body and stay super focused – it’s hard enough balancing on two feet, let alone one!

And most remember, dear yogis, that you are exactly where you are supposed to be in your journey!

Make it the best week ever!


Wellness Wednesday: Telling People You Love Them

Little does anyone know that I keep a folder of letters I have received from those in my life over a course of my entire lifetime next to my bed. These are letters I hold close as a friendly reminder that there are people who have warned my heart by putting the effort to express their love and appreciation. They are something I still turn to years later for an uplift from the mundane.

I think most people do not truly express their innermost feelings for others whoever that may be- friends, family, lover, teammate, student or teacher. I really do think everyone needs to hear that they are loved and appreciated more often.

Learning to express our love to others from our innermost self is vital for showing our most honest form of feeling. There may be times when we wish to tell someone that we love them or compliment them and feel vulnerable, something we all fear at some point. We fear the other’s reaction so we store what is on our mind and hearts inside. We may even miss out on growing opportunities as many words can fall unsaid. These few kind words can be remembered forever by someone we find special. When we crack this barrier we cannot help but feel raw and fresh all at the same time. In this moment we never regret for loving too much. Exposing our raw emotions lets us get our thoughts across with pure sincerity.

When we share love to those around we create an instant shift in attitude to ourselves and those around us. It becomes this wonderfully synergistic cycle that will remain within even in the most despondent times.

Compliment or express your love and appreciation for someone today!



Mindful Monday: Sangha

Good morning and happy Monday, dearest mindful ones!

I’m so grateful to be part of the Yoga By Degrees sangha. I’m so grateful for each and every one of YOU! 🙏🏾

Sangha is a Sanskrit term meaning association, company or community.

In Buddhism, sangha has two meanings: 1. A community of Buddhist monastic monks and nuns, or 2. a community of awakened beings.

When I refer to our YBD sangha, I’m acknowledging that you are all my TRIBE! My peoples.

I’m appreciating the fact that through all of my life transitions over the past eight plus years, YOU my dearest mindful one, have walked by my side; grabbed my hand and pulled me when I needed it; kicked me in my booty at times; pushed; cheered and supported me through ALL of it.

And I sincerely hope that you feel I’ve been able to do the same for you.

How lucky are we to have a sacred space to go and hide, heal, cry, laugh and receive love, compassion, support and understanding?!

I am particularly grateful for all of the love, support, wisdom and much-needed advice as I’ve navigated the turbulent years of parenting a brilliant, talented and very stubborn (not sure where he got that from!) teenager!

And yesterday was a successful launch into his brand new, bright, shiny future as a college freshman in Nashville at Vanderbilt University.

It truly takes a village or a sangha to raise a child.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you my dearest mindful ones.


Wellness Wednesday: The Entity Of The Small Moments

Our days are composited with many small moments that are interconnected to form this big picture that is our life.

These small moments can easily be lost among the clutter as we become overwhelmed by responsibilities, obligations, goals and tasks we encounter. In attempt to cope with the chaos of life we reminisce on days past or daydream on days ahead, straying us away from the present moment. We find it difficult to be present because there always seems to be more pressing needs that must be done. When the opportunity arises to spend time to ourselves we feel guilty that we may be neglecting our family, friends and even our work. While life can be insistent, these small moments can carry the potential to cultivate greater bliss we desire for days on end.

Drawing conscious awareness to the present moment is a practice. Resisting our urge to rush enables us to witness our ability to soften, expand and learn. We become more mindful of the space and environment we are in when we focus on our breath and movement. If we handle each small moment with care whether we percieve it as positive or negative we can learn to adore the entity of life itself. Our patience to embrace each small moment will teach us the expedition from one point to another will seem to take no time at all as we move through bliss that is the present moment.



Mindful Monday: It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

Good Mindful Monday morning, friends!

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

This has been my mantra this summer, as I prepare to say farewell to my soon-to-be college-bound son. He is a “rising” freshman as I’ve been told they are now referred to.

I’ve been holding on to the preciousness and sanctity of each blessed breath and moment.

And letting go of all of the thoughts of how I could have been a better mom.

I’ve been learning to hang on dearly to memories of all of the laughter and fun and lightness.

To release all of the disappointments and hurts that inevitably happen within a family and a personal relationship.

And to grasp the nuggets of wisdom that result in learning the tough lessons of life.

To hang on to the significance of each “last” before he leaves. Last weekend. Last family dinner. Last Sunday lunch. Last night before he embarks on his new adventure.

And to leave behind the expectations and “shouldas” and “couldas.”

To embrace with gratitude this gift of motherhood.

And to acknowledge that this entire journey has always been about preparing to let go.

To continue to trust in the brilliance of life’s plans.

To relinquish the thought that I ever really had much control over any of it.

To accept in my heart that we all did our best.

And to surrender to the belief that this is exactly how it should unfold.

This morning, I found a brand new park to sit in and write today’s post. It seemed fitting to write my last Mindful Monday before my heart and soul is ripped out and transplanted to another city and state. (Not dramatic at all!)

As I sit on a bench with all the sounds of nature enveloping me, one of these birds flew directly towards me then looped around and flew away! So symbolic. I was completely engrossed in watching the flight. As an afterthought I snapped this picture of that bird with one of his bird friends.

While I am well aware that I’m not the only mother in the history of the world to experience this deep, bittersweet sense of loss; I am definitely feeling connected to every human soul who has, for whatever reason, ever had to say a tough, gut wrenching, totally scary and absolutely necessary farewell.

So when the time comes, I pray for the strength to be able to turn around and paddle away, knowing I’ve done all I can and trusting he will be surrounded with love, support and guidance always.

August 2019 Pose of the Month: Downward Facing Dog

Our August 2019 pose of the month is Adho Mukha Svanasana. The dog days of summer are the best days to down dog!

This pose is one of the foundational poses of our yoga practice and easily recognizable even by those who have yet to practice yoga. Let’s do this!

1 Come to your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. The fold of your wrists should be parallel with the top edge of your mat.

2 Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back.

3 Point your index finger directly toward the top edge of your mat and splay your fingers wide apart. Spread Press firmly through your palms and knuckles, particularly index finger and thumb. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands without dumping into your wrists.

4 Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an upside down V. Imagine your hips and being pulled backwards and lifted upwards from the top of your thighs. Do not walk your feet closer to your hands — keep the extension of your whole body.

5 Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. As you lengthen your spine, lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling. Now press down equally through your heels and the palms of your hands.

6 Firm the outer muscles of your arms and press your index fingers into the floor. Lift from the inner muscles of your arms to the top of both shoulders. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and toward your tailbone. Broaden across your collarbones.

7 Rotate your arms externally so your elbow creases face your thumbs.

8 Draw your chest toward your thighs as you continue to press the mat away from you, lengthening and decompressing your spine.

9 Engage your quadriceps by lifting your knee caps. Rotate your thighs inward as you continue to lift your sit bones high. Sink your heels toward the floor.

10 Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.

11 Hold for 5 breaths.

12 To release, exhale as you gently bend your knees and come back to your hands and knees.

Wellness Wednesday: Your Sacred Time In Solitude

When we hop onto our mat we may realize it may be the only time we have solitude in our daily schedule. With the fast forward momentum of today’s life, we feel compelled to make the most of each day being productive.

The activities, habits and rituals that sustain us then are the first to become sacrificed. In times we ache for rest it’s important to remind ourselves that our spiritual self should be involved in our list of priorities to cultivate balance in our lives.

Each task, relationship and situation we engage fuels our spiritual vitality. But sometimes we feel guilty that we may be neglecging our family, friends or work. We come very selfless. While being selfless is seen as being thoughtful, we must prioritize our favorite spiritual fulfilling activities and require ourselves to practice the power of saying no to other’s requests and overwhelming responsibilities.

As we participate in activities and relationships that leave us feeling whole, we commit to enriching our personal growth by diving deeper into the benefit of solitude. We then realize this time is sacred and something we prioritize in our healing journey.



Mindful Monday: Patience

Good morning, Mindful Ones!

“Patience is not about waiting, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”

Boy, did I have an awesome lesson in patience on Saturday morning!

I left my house early to take one of my favorite yoga classes. En route, I stopped to get my iced coffee. I buy my coffee from a spot that is a hidden gem – it’s never very busy because it’s kind of off the beaten path.

Well when I got there, I knew right away things seemed odd. There was a long line for the drive-through.

Simple enough. I parked my car and headed in. And that’s when I saw the long line of customers waiting agitatedly.

I caught the attention of my lovely barista Mârché, and she explained that there was only two people working that morning rather than the scheduled four people.

So, I understood very clearly why there was a longer than normal wait. I had compassion for the two girls working, because they were dealing with two long lines of inconvenienced customers.

And still, a well of annoyance, irritation and entitlement kept trying to bubble to the surface. And I kept breathing deeply and reminding myself of the perfectly logical reason why I was waiting. It was definitely a struggle.

And because I frequent that location, and I have had dozens upon dozens of great experiences there, I was able to restrain myself from behaving badly. Lol.

I had to wait so long, however, that I was now in danger of being late for class! Fortunately I had left quite early that morning, which in itself was a tiny miracle. 🤣 Had I left at my regular time, which generally gives me about a five minute window, I would have absolutely missed my class.

So about 12 minutes later (who was counting?) i’m in my car and speeding off with focus and determination to get to my yoga class.

Wouldn’t that be the morning that I caught every single red light? And not just regular red lights; Red lights that literally lasted like two minutes each.

And why was every driver in front of me the slowest in the history of driving?

Again, that hot flame of annoyance began to rise and build! It was growing into full blown road rage. I was clutching the steering wheel and hunching forward over it. I felt my shoulders tense upward toward my ears; my jaw was clenching. I was agitatedly pounding on my steering wheel!

And I kept reminding myself to breathe. That this was most definitely a first world problem. That I had already texted the teacher and she had put a mat down for me. That if I missed my yoga class there was 32 others during the day that I could take.

It was a constant back and forth struggle the entire drive.

I made it to class with two minutes to spare. I dramatically rushed in and got myself set up. I said hello to my fellow students and other teachers. And finally, landed on my mat filled with gratitude and joy.

Sigh. It’s always great to be back home.

Let’s remember together, dear ones, that patience is a sign of STRENGTH and anger is the hallmark of weakness.

Have a great week, great souls! And be so grateful if the universe sends you many, many opportunities this week to practice your patience!