Utilizing Yoga to Experience Life with Less Effort and More Joy

Yoga in the West has become synonymous with flashy yoga clothes, competitive style classes, and instagram photos of people twisting their bodies into various shapes while smiling from ear to ear. While there is nothing wrong with any of these, they do gloss over the root of yoga which is you.  

Focusing solely on the physical aspect of the practice without addressing the deeper psychological layer is a disservice. There is no doubt that one will see and feel the physical transformations in their body once a regular yoga practice is a part of their life. What can be felt from the inside out and carried into their lives daily is the opportunity to dig deeper in the thought patterns that cause us to repeat a loop which keeps us in a state of discontentment and distress.

Peeling Back the Layers

In Sanskrit the word granthi refers to the knots of the mind and body. When we are not able to be present in our minds and bodies, we are not able to be present in life. We will continue to either cling to pleasure and comfort or avoid challenge and change. The longer I practice yoga, the slower I want to move in the asanas so that I can process all that comes up. To be able to hold a posture longer, not only does the body need to be physically able, but the mind must also be conditioned to be able to focus and sit with what may arise.

Outside Chatter

A consistent yoga practice will condition both the mind and body, and allow the individual to focus on what they really need to bring in or let go of in their lives to feel content. With a bombardment of chatter around us day in and day out it can be quite a challenge to tune in and figure this out. Personally, I find that ‘staying on track’ can be isolating if I let it be, but then I remember that part to of what makes me feel content and happy is feeling connected to others. So instead of hiding out at home because I don’t want to go to a bar or some social event, I will call a friend, get to a yoga class, or write a note to someone I’ve had on my mind.

Letting Go of Old Versions of Yourself

Patterns of the mind can be deeply rooted and be expressed as a habit, coping mechanism, or survival strategy that has worked for a part of your life. Experiencing a loss can lead to feeling a lost sense of self. As you look back through the chapters of your life, I am sure you can pinpoint a few versions of yourself that no longer exist. Maybe it had to do with the way you dressed, the job you had, or the people you hung out with. Certain versions are easier to let go of than others. For example, when you are in a serious relationship with someone and spend a lot of time with them, live together, build a life together and then you break up - parts of that life that you loved will continue to linger in your mind. Clinging to this old version of yourself – even if seen as a great one – will only cause your suffering to continue.

Not being with life as it is, attachment to stories about ourselves, fear of letting go, and the need to be ‘someone’ keep us from being free to be completely ourselves and present in the life that we have.

On and Off of the Mat

For the past few months I have been speaking to the importance of savasana in my classes more and more especially when I can sense students want to dart out of the room before this final resting posture. Since lying still and breathing can often be one of the hardest things to do, especially with a mind full of chatter. What I offer to students, is to think of the time as conditioning their internal peace, tuning into the mind, heartbeat, breath and body and observing what physical, energetic or emotional sensations may be lingering or rising to the surface after practice.

Just as we do the work on the mat to condition our minds and bodies, we must also be able to tap into the sense of peace we feel in savasana when we are off of the mat and need it most. If you are looking for a way to explore yoga, I would love to see you in a class or have you join me on a retreat. Please reach out with where you are on your journey in yoga and life.




Crying In Public

Not the sexiest act to perform: weeping, nose blowing, letting it all out and giving zero f*cks who sees you. Been there, done that – how about you?

Whether it is dealing with a sick parent, a tough break-up, loss of a job, or some other stressful and emotional chapter in life, you may have seen someone else, or been the person crying in public. While this may not seem like a topic worth writing about, as I have had some major life changes in the past few years I noticed myself crying in public more and more. The coffee shop with my best friend, walking down a crowded street, the waiting room at the doctor’s office.

Sometimes a place or yoga pose would unlock something, other times I just couldn’t hold in all my frustrations after a particularly challenging day or week. Whatever the case may be, I did notice feeling embarassed that I could not ‘hold it together’. The fact of the matter is, life is tough, and if you need to cry to let go of, or express some emotions that are bottling up inside you – LET THAT SHIT GO even if it comes out at an inopportune time.

Crying in Yoga

When I started really committing to my personal yoga practice, I would avoid certain postures (such as pigeon) to avoid sobbing with others around me. After learning that we hold a lot of emotional energy and memories with in our bodies, particularly in our hips, I embraced the savasana sob, and encourage you to as well.

My goal whether it is teaching one on one, in a classroom setting, or at a retreat is to hold a safe space for my students so that they can really explore what is going on not just physically in their bodies, but also energetically. I encourage them to notice how their thoughts and emotions may shift though the different asanas, and realize that the mind, body and breath are truly influential and connected to one another. With the fast paced world of never-ending to do lists that we live in, it is increasingly important for people to ‘check in’ with themselves, and make sure they are feeling emotionally and energetically stable.

Feeling your Feelings

While the thought of openly displaying emotions in front of others may make us cringe, remembering that all feelings – bad and good – are temporary, can be a reassuring reminder. I like to think of yoga as a tool in my toolbox for handling and digesting everything that I struggle with in my life, and recognizing all the joy and ease that does exist day to day.

A huge heartfelt shout out to all of my amazing friends, family members, yoga teachers and students for allowing me express my joy, pain, sadness, heartache and laughter with you week after week. My greatest joy is learning with you and from you.

Please share a comment below about a place or posture that left you crying in public, see you on your mat soon! XOXO

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.