Yoga - a Journey Back to You

“Yoga is the Journey of the Self,
Through the Self,
To the Self”~ Bhagavad Gita

Oh yoga, how you never cease to amaze me or teach me something new. Everyone I know has some sort of struggle they are dealing with at any given time. A crappy job, a health issue, angst with a family member or lover.

My latest battle is healing my heart after an abrupt and really tough break up. It has been almost a month since the fight that did us in happened, and yet it seems like we are already strangers. After the initial crying, sobbing, and not sleeping I have started to settle into a lull of enjoying alone time, space to myself, and doing whatever I feel like doing at any given time. I've done a lot of reading, writing, reflection and of course yoga.

Avoidance

I cannot deny that I started to see things unraveling a few months ago, but kept trucking along hoping we would be OK, knowing that something was off. My biggest red flag was that my yoga practice was suffering. Aside from teaching I was not keeping up with my own practice at all. A clear sign of avoidance for me. The quote 'Yoga is the Journey of the Self, Through the Self, To the Self' explains it all. When you really allow yourself to get lost in the breath and movement of yoga, it allows your mind to quiet from to do lists and expectations from the outside world, and lets you get in touch with yourself. Who you are at your core, who you were when you were a child, when you were pure, before anybody tainted Your World Vision of yourself and those around you. Before you were labeled as pretty, ugly, fat, skinny, dumb, smart, whatever the case may be. Before you put up on any sort of mask to fit in. 

Self Discovery

What I have discovered is that I have been holding myself back in many ways, and used the relationship as my excuse. At my core I am someone who loves hard and needs a lot of love in return. This relationship was healing in many ways, and the comforts it brought were something I really needed, but I realize I was giving up too much of myself to keep things 'moving along'. I was reverting to old habits and not staying true my path and what calls to me. I am someone that lives my life deliberately, with purpose and meaning because that is the only way I feel alive. My fear of being alone and desire to have someone to share my life with kept me in a relationship that was not allowing me to grow beyond a certain point. 

Seeing the signs

Since I was a kid I can remember feeling 'tuned in' to the world around me. Listening to my intuition, and going where it takes me. Noticing how I feel when meeting someone for the first time and filing it away for future reference. Walking into a room and getting an instant vibe on how the night would go. Since I am an ever curious individual, I have learned that I am an outgoing introvert, and a highly sensitive person (HSP). What does this mean? I am hyper aware, I can be easily overwhelmed in certain situations, and I need alone time to recharge. These revelations, so to speak, have all come to the surface in the 10 months my ex and I lived together, and the realization led me to really want to live life in a way that was not conducive to the relationship. In addition, I have received some pretty powerful messages from the universe because I am tuned in and paying attention. (more on this another time but pay attention to your surroundings and  look up the meaning here) https://www.spirit-animals.com/spirit-animal-totem-generator/animals-as-messengers/

Moving forward

No matter how much we wish time would stop, it is the one thing that we need to move through and beyond hard times. Distancing ourselves from the person, place or thing that is bothering us can give us clarity and peace. Life is a gift that keeps on giving good, bad or ugly, and you can either go with the flow or fight an uphill battle at any given time. Yoga allows me to keep my internal peace, so that I can do my best to manage what life throws my way. This does not mean that I have found a fast track to healing my heart, but it does mean that I have a powerful tool for self discovery, self healing, and overall all keeping my mind, body & spirit aligned.

How does yoga help you? I would love to hear from you in the comments below, or email me at stretchandbreathewithme@gmail.com

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Five things teaching Yoga has taught me

Yoga. I love it. I love reading about it, practicing it, and teaching it to others that attend my classes. I continue to be both a teacher and a student, sometimes unsure of which I love more. While yoga has enriched my life tenfold, her are the top 5 things I have learned from teaching yoga.

You Get What you Give

Such is life; you get back what you put out. In regards to teaching yoga the same applies. If you show up frazzled and unprepared, it shows in your class and your students will feel your tension. I have learned that I cannot physically do everything I want to do in a day sometimes, and that is OK. For many students, their yoga class is the 1 hour they look forward to most in their day, and I make sure to bring my A game so they can get the most out of class. They showed up for me, so I show up for them. I practice what I preach my grounding myself before I lead a class. 

Your Vibe Attracts your Tribe

Have you ever met someone and instantly clicked OR instantly gotten the heebie geebies?

That is the vibe they are giving off. Being in tune with yourself and those around you guides you to people and places you want to be. When I first started teaching I was running all over the city teaching everywhere I could, and I thought I had to please everyone. The fact is, once I found my authentic teaching voice and style, students that related to the quotes I share or lighthearted approach at a handstand started to show up.  I have become less concerned with being liked, and more concerned with providing challenging and thoughtful sequences for my students. Working from a place that makes sense and sharing it with others has made me a much stronger teacher then worrying about what I ‘should’ be doing.

Consistency is Key

You never know what people are dealing with when they enter your classroom. They may be coping with a tragedy, or be nervous to practice yoga around other people. Staying consistent by showing up to your classes week after week, or informing regulars when you will miss a class goes a long way. Building on past classes, and holding space for students to feel comfortable with you is important for both parties to grow. You can observe their progress, and they will be more comfortable with you assisting then and continuing to challenge them. 

It's not Personal

The first time a student was 'doing their own thing' in my class I was crushed. I thought my class must have sucked so bad that she was making up her own instead. The fact is that sometimes people are going to do what they want to. Take charge of your class - you are the expert in the room, and if a student doesn't like your style of teaching and doesn't come back, another person will. If you put together a thoughtful class and take time to care for your students that will shine through and they will return. 

Teaching feeds my Soul

While I have many other interests in life, teaching yoga and connecting with others is truly the #1 thing that feeds my soul. Sitting at a desk working on tasks that did not excite nor challenge me was a waste of my time and energy. Since taking time to teach yoga more and more, I have learned that it is not only a creative and physical outlet for me, but a spiritual one as well. It keeps me accountable to my practice and myself.

Yoga is the grease that keeps the wheels of my life turning. Yoga has given me the tools necessary to be the best me I can me. As winter is just starting to settle in, I am even more grateful that I get to enter a warm room and stretch and breath with my fellow yogis forgetting it is freezing outside for an hour and being present on our mats. 

What have you learned from practicing and/or teaching yoga? I would love to hear from you...Namaste. 

 

Getting Back to Basics & Elevating Your Baseline

Everyone feels rundown, overworked, and just plain depleted at one time or another. Getting back to basics with your weekly schedule will keep you feeling your best and ready to take on all that life throws your way.

‘The Basics’

Quality Sleep, nutritious meals, self care, journaling, and connecting with others are the main areas I focus on when I’m feeling depleted.  While at the surface these seem like pretty tangible goals to maintain, when our calendars are full to the brim day after day, these basic elements for a happy and healthy you are usually the first and easiest things to push to the wayside.

Personal Baseline

What is your personal baseline you may ask? What I am referring to with this term,  is the point where you feel stable, secure, nourished & calm so that you can go out and be the best you while you are fulfilling all of your commitments to others and working towards your personal goals.

For me, I feel my best when:  I eat healthy meals regularly, sleep at least 8 hours (even if 2 are just laying in bed & not actual sleep), working out in some capacity, (yoga, walking, zumba), have a clean house, and a plan in place for the upcoming week. Everything on top of that such as social events or fitting in a squeeze from my nephews are just icing on the cake.

That may sound like a lot, but if I have missed a workout due to a social event or grabbed a meal on the fly it won’t throw me off.  However, if I have eaten crappy for a few days, had a few bad nights of sleep, come home to a messy house, haven’t seen anyone outside of work in a few days AND missed my daily work out then I will most likely be feeling frazzled which will snowball into missed meetings, tardiness, forgetfulness and crankiness.

Taking time to check in with yourself to make sure your baseline needs are being met is a great way to ensure you are being the best version of yourself when you step into the world.

Plan it Out

Whether you work 9-5, 11-7 or nights and weekends - pick an afternoon or evening to map out your week so you can see when & where you need to be. Plan for your meals as much as you can, and work towards cooking as many as possible.  Add exercise as an event on your calendar and aim for 30 more minutes and 1 more day a week then you currently at. Pencil in some you time to journal, take a long bath; paint your nails or do something that allows you to check in with your mind, body & soul. Connect with others either during one of the meals or on a walk.  Just like anything else, the more you practice the things that make you a happier you, the easier it becomes to make them fit in naturally to your day to day life.

 Tips & Tricks from a Busy Chick

Time and money seem to be the 2 biggest roadblocks people will bring us as to why they don’t take time for cooking, exercise and self care. Remember, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day that you do – so make the most of the time you have.

Here are a few suggestions on for your meal prep day

1.       Wash & chop veggies for easy go to salads, hard boil eggs for protein on the go

2.       Make a big batch of soup for an easy lunch or dinner throughout the week

3.       Use a crock-pot – the best invention ever for quick easy home cooked meals

Fitting in a workout

1.       Get up 30 minutes earlier OR skip TV after dinner & go on a brisk walk, jog or run.

2.       Meet a friend for a workout instead of a meal – try a new class together through Groupon or Class Pass if they are offered in your area.

3.       Plan to walk on your lunch break – even 10 minutes will be a great addition to your day

Taking time for you

1.       Schedule it like you would any other important meeting, and don’t blow yourself off

2.       Look for fun ways to try something new for free. Sephora offers make up classes regularly & local park districts often provide free or low cost events and classes.

3.       Unplug everything - I mean it start to unplug 30 minutes before bed not looking at a screen of any kind and I bet you will fall asleep faster.

Increase your Understanding

As I delve deeper into my own self study, I have become fascinated with many different ideas and teaching, one in particular is Samskara.  Yogic philosophy teaches that we are all born with a set of mental & emotional patterns that we cycle through over and over throughout the duration of our lives. These ideas and actions together create our conditioning. When repeated over and over a sort of groove is formed which can be hard to break away from. Now these grooves can be positive, negative, or somewhere in between. The fact is being aware of them, and understanding that they can be changed – you can always break an old pattern and create a new groove in your life.

Think of your morning routine, for me it involves brewing a cup of coffee – hearing the grinder, smelling it brew, and enjoying a hot mug before interacting with anyone else =) I’m aware this groove, I enjoy it and I am not trying to break it at this time.

On the other hand, this time of year as the daylight shortens, and the temperature falls – my groove is to get mope-y and blue. I exchange tea for wine and salad for carbs. A little of this is just going with the seasonal flow, but when I find myself falling out of my good habits that I worked hard to create I make sure to get back into the positive groove(s) I created.

Why am I writing this?

I am a strong believer that knowledge is power, and even thought most of this is basic stuff, it can be helpful for people to read what others do to keep the wheels turning in their lives, so I am sharing what I have found useful with you.

If you like what you’ve read, check out my blog, join me in a class, or sign up for a week of yoga, healthy eating and self discovery in Spain. Along with 2 other instructors, and all made possible through Lucia Yoga, we will offer 6 days of yoga, mindfulness, healthy eating and exploration in beautiful Grenada Spain.

Full details on everything at www.stretchandbreatewithme.com or sign up at www.luciayoga.com choose Janet Keogh from the drop down menu, and feel free to email with any questions.   

Flowing Into Fall

It is the 1st official day of fall, instead of mourning the sun filled evenings & random beach days, I am respecting the change of seasons and doing my best to flow with it. Not of thinking of it as the end of things, rather I am excited for what lies ahead as the the weather will inevitably cool, leaves will fall, and we will settle in to a new routine. 

Changing the Channel

The fall season brings fall shows, while I have never been a huge TV watcher, the temptation to curl up with a glass of wine and veg out has been more appealing since the evenings have become dark earlier and earlier. As a challenge to myself, I decided to plan a new activity for a few evenings this week to aid in the transition.

Sunday -  attended a fellow yogis class out of the blue to surprise her =)

Monday - went flying on the trapeze at Belmont Harbor - great adrenaline boost!

Tuesday - walked for an hour with a neighbor on a new trail in our 'hood

Wednesday - took my nephew out for a spin on his tricycle

Thursday - cooked dinner for a girlfriend 

Overall a pretty solid week! As someone who is very tuned into the shift of the seasons, I have to really make a conscious effort to keep myself active and engaged in new projects when fall comes around. Maybe it is 'programming' from all those years of school, but it seems I am always seeking a change as the leaves fall and the days get shorter. 

Finding Your Fall Flow

Of course teaching and practicing yoga will continue to be a key element in making all the pieces of my life work as we flow into fall. I'm excited to be ramping up the types of classes I will be teaching, and my new home studio is ready for practice as well. If you are reading this and new to yoga or looking for some 1 on 1 time to get into your Fall Flow - send me a message - I'd love to hear from you!

Also, feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you're up to this fall.

 

You can always reset & recharge on your mat

You can always reset & recharge on your mat

36 and Full of Tricks !

Did my title get you to LOL or ROTFL? While I usually have to look up acronyms to know what they mean, overall I feel younger then I am, but my old lady does surface now & then. Take the time (a few years ago) when I referred to # as pound and not hashtag - I was ridiculed by 20 and 30 somethings alike. 

Some Days I Care, Some Days I Don't

Sure, gone are the days of being able to stay out until 4 am and be perky at work by 9, or being called Miss instead of Ma'am (grr), but as I have gone from mid to late thirties (eek!) I feel like I am finally getting to know me. 

It was my birthday and I cried - did I want to

As far back as I can remember I have cried about 1 thing or another on my actual birthday. One year when I was 8 or 9 my mom made me a homemade cake that was (supposed) to be in the shape of an elephant. Definitely an A for effort, but because it wasn't what I had pictured in my head (perfection) I was upset and was a total jerk to her, embarrassed my 'friends' would make fun of it at the party. How ridiculous is that?!

Then there was 22 or 23 when I over-served myself early in the afternoon/evening before my room-mates and I had a party. Needless to say I was sound asleep before everyone even arrived, and they made sure to mess with me. I woke up, I cried. SO silly. #reformedpartygirl

That brings us this year t-h-i-r-t-y-s-i-x! I knew to expect some sadness to creep up, and sure enough it did a few days before so I yoga-ed it off and was feeling great on the actual day. I spent time with friends at the beach, we hung out on a rooftop - fabulous! But then, I cried.

Why? At the time because my S/O was annoying me, but underneath that there was more. 

Not Meeting Expectations

Don't get me wrong, overall I am a happy, grateful, and loving person, but I'm also extremely hard on myself. SO, while I can look back on the past year and be super proud that life is going in new, exciting, and rewarding directions (mostly yoga related=) There is still a gnawing that I have somehow stopped short of some wish/dream/hope I'm not even sure I ever had. You know... husband, white picket fence 2.5 kids, etc. 

While I have never thought of myself as a traditional person, as I get older I realize I crave and work towards stability. Feeling grounded instills confidence in me that no matter where I go or what I do I will be loved by my friends and family. Trust me, this has been tested time again & continues to ring true.

Root To Rise (a.k.a. how this ties to Yoga)

You may have heard this phrase in a Yoga class - but what does it mean? For the purposes of asana (poses) it is referring to the idea that the more 'rooted' we are in a pose, they more stable it will feel in our body. Think about it, if you are truly rooted through your feet in mountain pose, you are going to be able to lift and stretch your entire body up to the sky more then if you are sinking into your heels or rolling onto the balls of your feet. 

Sometimes I think 'if only' I had gone here, done that differently, lived here, etc. I would be at a place in life where I would l somehow look/feel/be better. When in reality I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. With plenty of friends, family and fellow yogis around me to laugh with, cry with, and most importantly - create meaningful memories with. 

 

Setting Your Intention

in·ten·tion: a determination to act in a certain way

If you have ever stepped foot in a yoga studio, you have probably taken part in setting an intention for the class. Possibly to focus on your breath, be kind to yourself, or just remain present on your mat for the duration of the class. This small notion that you may or may not participate in every time is a great tool for redirecting your life.

What if you set an intention for the next week, month or year? 

Start Small

For a week, when you wake up set an intention for your day...

'I will make myself all 3 meals today." OR " I will enjoy listening to music in my car instead of getting frustrated in traffic." MAYBE "I will be grateful for all life sends my way today."

Write it down if that is helpful, and refer to it throughout the day, or reflect on it as you go to bed, and see how you did. No right or wrong, just see how it feels in your mind and your heart. Were you able to stay true to your intention? If not, no need to feel guilty. Just try again until it feels natural, and this process will start to shift the way you approach your day to day life. 

Intention Setting VS. Goal Setting

As a goal oriented individual, I have found that intention setting is a powerful tool that ultimately helps me reach my goals. 

For example...

My goal in February was to quit my desk job, teach more yoga classes, create a website, and secure a yoga retreat. While my daily intention would change...

"Create a new sequence today." OR "Don't freak out about bills!" OR "Learn something new from someone in class." They all helped me stay on track towards my end goal(s).

By keeping an intention at the forefront of my mind, I have successfully met these goals!!!     (check it out) www.luciayoga.com/yoga-retreat-with-janet-keogh

Overcoming Roadblocks

So you have a bad day or two, don't beat yourself up and convince yourself this is a waste of time. Go back to your intention and finish out your week strong.

Believe me, there were days my intention was lost and I scraped an entire afternoon in favor of a nap or an evening out to connect with friends. That's OK! Listen to what you need to reset & recharge then get back on track. 

Keep up the Momentum

Like everything else, intention setting takes dedication, determination and discipline. (Motivation helps too, but I'll cover that another time) While patience is a virtue that seems to have missed this yogi, as time goes on, practicing the 3 D's has helped me create the life I want to live.

Sure, the picture may change from time to time, but my bottom line is to live life as fully and boldly as possible. Leading from my heart, and helping as many others as I can along the way. While this path does not come with a large salary or a fancy title, it does afford me peace of mind that I have everything I need to navigate and thrive in this life on my terms, and for that I will be forever grateful.

How Yoga (continues) to Heal Me

Heart/break.

Two little words that mean something so big it’s hard to put into words. Feeling like your entire being has been smashed into so many tiny little pieces, you don’t know if there is any way to get put back together. And if so, what will that new version of you will look like?

In the past 5 years there have been many losses, and unexpected changes in my life that have left me feeling turned inside out and upside down, but somehow I have managed to push forward, and once again have begun to bloom.

I get choked up regularly just thinking about it all, and then I wonder – how the f*ck did I get through everything?! The answer always comes to me through the form of Yoga. Even on my saddest days when all I could do was drag (or be dragged) into a class, and barely move through the asanas, somehow just being in a room with yogis stretching and breathing seemed to help. Flash forward a few years and I’m on my mat almost every day, and wish I could be more and more.

How does Yoga heal?

It allows you to just be. I enjoy moving my body, and yoga forces me to concentrate on my breath and movement, which in turn, allows me to quiet my mind… even if only for a minute. There are so many messages we see throughout the day and thoughts that pop up, all the noise in my head can be overwhelming! I have learned that no amount of any substance will quiet it, so yoga has taught me how to observe and acknowledge the thoughts, process, and move on. 

It is definitely not all rainbows and sunshine however. As strong as I feel physically these days, my practice reminds me there is still much to be dealt with. Sadness lurks in the corners of my being, and I need to work through them to GET THEM OUT! 

Why Yoga?

I practice and teach yoga to share with others the knowledge I have gained about the trans-formative powers of yoga. At its most basic level, yoga is about noticing the mind/body connection, and using it to better understand yourself and realize you have everything within you that you need to navigate life. Yoga to me is tuning into yourself, a moving meditation that links breath and movement to challenge the body while quieting the mind and allowing your spirit to shine. 

Yoga helps mange daily stress, anxiety, depression even sadness and pain. Recognizing these things live in our bodies, empowers us to work through and release them.

How does Yoga help you in your daily life? What brings you to your mat? Leave a comment below, and thanks for reading.