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Mindful Monday: Happy Labor Day

Good morning and happy Monday, dearest mindful ones.

We have an abbreviated class schedule today in observance of Labor Day. We still have noons and 1:30 pms at our Downers Grove and Western Springs locations; there’s definitely still opportunity to get to your mat!

Remember, Labor Day, is your day.

No one deserves a break more than you do. And aside from BBQs and a fond farewell to summer, Labor Day is when we celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers, hard workers like you and me!

A few ways I love to observe Labor Day:

1. Take the day OFF. When I first started teaching, I worked every holiday! Now I allow myself the simple pleasure of turning it off to rest and recharge my mind, body and spirit.

2. No schedule and no pressure. If I feel like practicing yoga, I will. But if I’m not feeling it, I give myself permission to chill out. I can Netflix all day by myself if that’s what’s calling to my spirit – or if I’m feeling more social, I’ll hang out at a friend’s BBQ. No forcing or making myself rally to do something I don’t really want to do.

3. Sleep in. It is so amazing to go to bed Sunday night without setting an alarm. Staying up late having fun and then sleeping in and waking up naturally. And maybe even lingering in bed writing this blog.

4. Move. Even if it’s going to be a lazy day, I’ll definitely spend some time in nature: A long walk or even a light jog (ok probably more likely a long walk) to boost seratonin levels and endorphins. Movement is the quickest, simplest life hack to instantly boost feelings of well-being.

5. Quiet space. Per my normal routine, I always take some time to quietly meditate and cleanse and purify my thoughts. I’ll definitely take some extra time to reflect on all of my hard work, success and accomplishments over this past year!

Happy Labor Day, dearest friends. Thank you for all that you do each and every day!

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.

Namaste!

Angie

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!

Namaste

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!

Namaste,

Angie

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.

Namaste!

Angie

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.

Namaste,

Angie

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!

Wellness Wednesday: Heart Over Head

Many of us were taught to value head over heart. We prioritize what our mind says and become conscious to what it says avoiding what the heart has to say. This habit can become ingrained like any other innate instinct we have.

However by shifting our awareness from our head to our heart we plunge into a wholesome place.

The anatomy of our bodies and psychology of our brains is something that is constantly being attempted to be understood. The brain itself is a miracle for the way it processes thoughts, emotions and the way it creates strategies and visuals. We can give great thanks to our body for the way it enables us to survive. Nevertheless we must never forget we can gain so much wisdom from our hearts. The mind and body interconnected allows us to reveal more about ourselves and others as a whole.

When we draw focus to our hearts, feeling is a concept we tend to avoid. We create barriers and walls as they are our first coping mechanisms we turn to during periods of distress. But the distress we are able to feel is varied by the joy we can feel as well. Together it adds depth and color to our lives despite seeing these emotions as positive or negative.

When we give ourselves permission to feel we begin to understand we are feeling at this time for a specific reason in this moment, time and space. In that we must trust the process as we are constantly progressing to evolve ourselves learning something new with every layer we peel back. Much can be revealed when we consciously observe heart over head.

Namaste!

Angie

Mindful Monday: Summer is Slipping Away

Good morning and happy Monday, dearest ones!

Summer is slip sliding away so quickly!

And isn’t time such a relative perspective?

For parents with young, loud, messy, high-energy, easily bored little ones, the advent of a new school year can’t come quickly enough!

For one of my dearest friends whose daughter is in her last two weeks of Beast basic training for the United States Military Academy aka West Point, time seems interminable.

For me? I’d love to slow down the clock because my son Julian leaves for Vanderbilt in less than three weeks! Not to mention summer is hands down (legs up) my absolute best time of year!

Thus is our human nature. Trying to cherry pick life’s moments and experiences. Attaching to and desiring what we perceive to be “good” and resisting and averting from what we deem as “bad.”

We can never achieve permanent, authentic happiness and inner peace if we are constantly defining the conditions for it.

I will be happy if he brings me flowers.

I can’t be happy if she keeps smacking her gum.

I will be happy once I can get my leg behind my head.

I can’t be happy unless I get married again.

I’ll be happy if my mother-in-law doesn’t criticize me.

Whether or not these (temporary) conditions come to pass, we can still choose happiness if we don’t expect or depend on them.

Think about why you take a vinyasa class at your favorite studio: it’s awesome specifically because you don’t know what the teacher had planned! You are a student: open, eager and ready for whatever unfolds on your mat! Especially when you first began practicing, right?

It was all shiny and new and challenging and intoxicating. You didn’t second guess the instructor or try to anticipate what was coming up next. You listened, tried, experienced it.

You learned how to try new things.

How to fall. And get back up with a giggle.

You learned how strong you are!

You learned where you had areas and potential for growth.

You learned to breathe

To listen to your heart.

To accept wherever you happen to be on your journey.

And the entire point of yoga is to transpose all of those lessons off of the mat into real life.

So, rather than trying to make time slow down or speed up, we breathe in fully and deeply each and every moment. We trust in the higher intelligence of LIFE. We surrender to being such a beautiful, integral part of the greater universe.

Of course, it ain’t easy! Lol. Where would the fun be in that?!

So even though my heart aches down to the deepest level of my soul, I choose to be happy even during my moments of deep sobbing and panic. To feel grateful that I am able to love on the deepest of levels. To be thrilled for this ridiculously bright and amazing future my son is embarking upon.

To know and trust that of course it is all necessary and amazing and beautiful. All of it. Especially those circumstances that break us down; crack us wide open; leave us feeling raw and vulnerable and tender.

For these are the opportunities for true growth. Here we learn compassion, patience, healing, acceptance, depth of love and letting go.

Each moment may seem to last forever, but they are so precious and fleeting.

And one day in retrospect, you’ll look back and those moments you tried to rush through are the ones that you deeply long for!

One more day of summer break with my son

One more afternoon answering endless questions

One more early Saturday morning of baseball/karate/track meet/practice driving/soccer

One more night filled with loud, silly, messy hungry boys sleeping over

One more weekday night after a long day of work to hear the words: “mommy, will you play with me”

Recognizing on the deepest level there’s no going back for do-overs, I know the next best thing is to stay mindfully aware and present for all of the moments of each day.

So take advantage of the gift of these last weeks of summer! What have you been planning to do? Get out there and make it happen! So when you do look back, it’s with a deep, joyful knowing that you appreciated and maximized each moment.

Have a great week, friends!