fall transitions

Mindful Monday: Winds of Change

Good morning and happy Monday, dearest ones!

The winds of change have arrived! This powerful vata, fall energy is the time of big, sweeping transitions!

Let’s take our lead from nature. See how the trees are on their final rally! Preparing their most vibrant and eye-catching colors. Living their best life, leaving nothing undone. Full on blaze of glory.

And they will then be ready to let go. To release every last attachment to the summer; to their beautiful leaves. Their only possessions.

And they will go dormant. Slowing down during the colder, darker months. Gathering energy as they rest, nourish, replenish, strengthen and prepare for the next phase of life. Trusting in the brilliance and knowledge of Nature.

Nature is all powerful and all knowing. How foolish we humans are as we continue to rally against the inevitable. Our human egos believe that we know better and that we can do better.

As we prepare to transition, here are some great questions you may ask of yourself:

What are some of my accomplishments thus far in 2019?

What are three challenges I have overcome? What are the lessons I learned from these challenges?

What are three things I’m so grateful for?

What are some things I’m willing to let go of with gratitude and appreciation?

What has held me back from experiencing true growth?

Let this be the starting point! Next week we will work on focusing on various aspects of our lives and growth.

Make it a great week, dearest ones!

Mindful Monday: Graceful Acceptance

Happy Monday, yogis!

It’s happening again, isn’t it? That final rallying that summer’s not really over.

Scoffing at pumpkin spice’s far too premature appearance. I mean seriously, my birthday is in September (oh, the 14th if you were wondering), and my birthday is literally always warm, bright and sunny. And I’m positive I saw pumpkin even before Labor Day!

Wearing shorts and tank tops, because, it’s like the first week of September! (Thank goodness I had my son’s track hoodie in my trunk for these early mornings.)

Still ordering iced chai rather than hot chai because I don’t need to warm my fingers – cold is like a mini Cryo treatment to my hands.

Then the realization that resisting the natural cycles of nature is just the same as complaining about the weather, which is my greatest pet peeve. Complaining about something that you have zero control or input over is an exercise in futility, frustration and insanity.

So today I ordered a hot coffee for myself and my friend Gina (not pumpkin) and felt gratitude for the chill breeze early this morning.

I admired how the trees are preparing for their big color show and inevitable release to bareness by slowly shedding extra leaves.

And I acknowledged the energetic effects of this transitional time on my body. It’s starting to slow down. It wants more rest and grounding.

The fall is characterized by vata dosha: airy, windy, cold, light, moving and dry.

As long as these qualities are in balance, a person whose dosha is predominantly vata (like me) will be healthy, creative, and exuberant. But when too much vata accumulates in the body and mind, the imbalance may manifest as physical or emotional disorders, including insomnia, dry skin, arthritis, constipation, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

Many of us naturally and subconsciously move toward grounding ourselves during this windy, moving energy time. We move toward heavier, cooked foods that are filling and warming. We may see an increase in our appetites; be intuitive and take cues from your body on what it needs.

Tending toward softer, heavier fabrics in earth tones will ground and calm vata.

  • Even our yoga practice will reflect this transitional time: more stabilizing and grounding poses and flows.
  • As always, taking our cues from intuition and nature are the simplest ways we can gracefully weather life’s shifts and transitions. From the weather to kids back in school to shifts at work, in life and relationships, we learn to stabilize within and be more allowing to whatever flows our way.

    Have a lovely week, friends!

    Mindful Monday: Yoga Mala

    Happy Monday, mindful ones. Well Chicago is definitely living up to its name. Wow! That brisk wind blasting my face this morning is exhilarating. Like a double shot of espresso!

    It’s getting colder and darker, and I keep reminding myself that it’s OK. In fact, it’s necessary. So I really try to catch myself before I go on auto pilot and just start complaining about it. Practicing mindfulness with my thoughts and my words is a lifelong practice.

    I’m really excited to begin preparations for Yoga by Degrees’ winter solstice celebration. We will observe this auspicious time of year by completing a yoga mala – 108 sun salutations!

    According to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, founder of Ashtanga yoga, each vinyasa (sun salutation) is like a bead to be counted and each asana (pose) is like a fragrant flower strung on the thread of the breath. The garland of yoga adorns us with peace, health, knowledge and self-awareness

    While this may sound intimidating, it’s actually a practice that is super energizing. Sun salutations are the perfect way to lengthen, strengthen and flex the main muscles of the body while distributing prana throughout your whole system. Anyone can complete a yoga mala, regardless of physical limitations. Some will modify and some students actually intensify the practice!

    When you begin your YBD classes with a handful of sun salutes, you right away feel your heart rate increasing, right? Sun salutes improve circulation, purify your blood and strengthen your physical body. Your lungs, digestive system, as well as your muscles and joints all benefit from this ancient practice. The more you do, the more vital prana circulation is increased, removing energy blockages and unlocking pathways for more energy to flow through you. The natural high you experience from the yoga mala is indescribable.

    Our practice together will focus on the shortest day of the year as a turning point – emerging from a place of darkness to a place of light mentally, physically and even emotionally.

    Some other benefits of sun salutations are:

    • Promotes healthy digestion.

    • Strengthens and tones abdominal muscles through alternate stretching and compression of abdominal organs.

    • Ventilates the lungs, and oxygenates the blood.

    • Rids body of enormous quantity of carbon dioxide & other toxic gases.

    • Quiets the nervous system and improves memory.

    • Promotes sleep and calms anxiety.

    • Normalizes the activity of the endocrine glands – especially the thyroid gland.

    • Improves muscle flexibility.

    • Improves grace and ease.

    Improves flexibility, especially your spine.

    So what are you waiting for? Sign up at your studio today! I guarantee you will not regret honoring the changing of the season in this way. Plus it’ll be a great way to blow off some pent up holiday stress and pressure!

    Have a great week, yogis!!!

    Mindful Monday: Go With the Flow 

    Happy happy Monday, y’all!  How about that extra hour of sleep you got last night? What a perfect way to begin today with a feisty attitude of gratitude!

    “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

    Would you like to be happy for the rest of your life? Then follow that one simple idea by Lao Tzu. It’s truly that simple. Yet … 

    We’ve been resisting change literally since birth! Born into a cold, loud world, we start our lives crying and in shock. 

    And change continues to happen so rapidly. And we fight it every step of the way … even before we learn to actually articulate the word, “No!”

    It continues through childhood. Resisting the rules and expectations first from our parents then our teachers and society at large.  

    Do I even have to mention teenage rebelliousness here?

    And finally as adults … we continue to resist! Yes, one side of us strives to fulfill our social duties, obligations and expectations in exchange for acceptance from our family, friends  and colleagues. But the other side of us craves to revolt against every belief, dogma and standard that has ever been forced down our throats! We long to throw caution to the wind and live with our own rules and experience freedom. 

    Just think of how you react when you show up to yoga and your favorite teacher had to sub out class last minute. Or you open up an app you use every day and it’s been completely updated and it’s super hard to navigate. We simply don’t like change.  Which makes us resistant. Annoyed. Inconvenienced. Not happy. 

    And this is just the little stuff, right? 

    Some big stuff has happened in my life lately, and I’m struggling to accept and go with the flow. So much easier said than done. A friend of mine who I’ve known for nearly thirty years – my best friend during my rebellious and exploratory, toeing the line 20s – was placed on life support recently.  I’m still reeling from the shock of it. Disbelief. Regret. So much inner resistance. 

    Other stuff too. No need for details. You get it. We are all struggling and battling with our own inner turmoil each day. 

    So how do I deal with this huge curveball that life has thrown at me?

    Each time my feelings and thoughts overwhelm me, I just breathe deeply and allow myself to experience whatever bubbled up. 

    I then direct my awareness to so many fond memories and I feel grateful for all the time we had together.  And I dedicate my efforts to her throughout the day. Doing things on her behalf that she may not ever do again.  Or truth be told, she would never do anyway. I could never get that girl on a yoga mat! 

    And I remember that despite the lie we all whisper to ourselves, that there is enough time, life is fragile and amazing and each moment is a blessing. Each breath truly a gift. 

    My work is non-resistance. To open and accept and laugh and love as much as I can for as long as I am able. 

    Let’s stop wasting time complaining about the weather or other things we cannot change. Let’s live with purpose and joy and acceptance. 

    Something magical will happen to you today! I feel it coming. Best. Monday. Ever. 🙏🏾

    Mindful Monday: Letting Go

    Good morning, yogis! Happy Monday! Happy Columbus Day! I’ve been loving our rainy weather we had last week! Rain is so cleansing and renewing, doncha think?

    Especially this time of year — watching the waning of summer into autumn and eventually winter. Observing the trees graciously surrendering their foliage, one leaf and bud at a time. 

    As we age, we go through the same process. One by one surrendering the things of our youth. The goal is to age as naturally as possible. To embrace anicca, the impermanence of life. To appreciate what we have while we have it; so when the time arrives to relinquish, we can do it with an open heart filled with love, gratitude and acceptance. 

    As I have grown older, some things have been fairly easy to yield to my youth: competitiveness, worrying what people think, focusing on superficial things, equating status with success. 

    Some things, however, are more of a struggle. Particularly, watching my baby boy grow into an amazing young man. Of course my heart bursts with so much pride at what a talented, hard working, compassionate human being he has become. Each stage of his life has been preparing me for the inevitable time that he will fly from my nest. 

    The latest stage is too quickly approaching. I’m writing this blog from the Purdue campus in West Lafayette – we are actually on our second college campus visit. 

    Purdue campus visit, Sunday, October 8, 2017


    Even in this picture, you can see him pulling away from me. 😭

    As parents, regardless of race, gender, social or economic status, we all feel the same thrills and pangs of parenthood. Some of you are young parents, struggling with getting a full night of sleep. Or spending each and every weekend watching your kids play sports. Some of you are empty nesters, learning to rebuild a life not dominated by incessant demands of your time. 

    Like the trees, we parents are all on the same path of letting go. Each milestone in our children’s lives is another practice of releasing. In order to be a successful parent, our children should walk away from us, fully equipped to function and thrive in life.  

    I’m so grateful for all of the moments I have with my son. And thankful for all of the strong, brave parents showing me the art of letting go. 

    Anicca. Anicca. Anicca. Be happy. Be happy. Be happy. 

    Mindful Monday: To Everything There is a Season

    Happy Mindful Monday, my radiant YBD tribe! I’m stepping in to write our weekly blog post for the time being so that our lovely Carla has more time and energy for her gorgeous son Malcolm.

    As always, so much goodness is happening in our yoga community. Nearly 30 dedicated yogis gathered during the Autumn Equinox at our Wheaton studio and busted out 108 sun salutations! What an amazing evening of effort, devotion, sweat, smiles, magic and so much love! And some pretty sore hamstrings and abs the morning after, for sure.

    While some of us may mourn the end of summer’s long, sunny days, there is so much to celebrate about Autumn: pumpkin ANYTHING; football; apple picking; apple cider; the advent of the holiday season; haunted houses; fireplaces; hay rides; crisper, cooler air; daylight savings time; boots, sweaters and jackets; and the most breathtaking time of year to witness nature’s final blaze of glory.

    As always, we seek to find BALANCE each day, and it’s particularly important to feel rooted and grounded during this blustery season of transition. We are shifting from the fire of summer to the  cooling of fall and winter.

    We are moving from:

    Sun to Moon
    Light to Dark
    Yang to Yin
    Fire to Water and Air
    Growth to Hibernation
    Building up to Letting go
    Movement to Stillness
    Outer Achievements to Inner Reflection
    Action to Contemplation

    This week, try to carve out some time for inner reflection, perhaps while walking through nature. Some points to contemplate:

    Where am I currently? Emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially
    Which seeds did I plant in the spring?
    What harvest am I currently reaping?
    Which seeds never took root?
    How will I find balance in these opposites?
    Which routines do I have to keep myself nurtured, nourished and grounded?
    What must I shed and release? Those things that do not ELEVATE me. Habits, relationships, thought patterns

    “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  – F. Scott Fitzgerald