Do you play small?

I certainly do.

What is that!? Why is that? Doesn’t that seem counter-intuitive? And yet, we all seem to have this same disposition/fear/shared consciousness.

This is a cliché question, but, for real: What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? Put differently: What would you do if you didn’t limit your potential? What would you do if you weren’t afraid of your light?

For me, sometimes what limits me is feeling like I can’t make a difference; feeling like whatever small thing I do, won’t affect others – it won’t ripple.

In this time of global fear/flux/change, we have witnessed what happens when individuals influence those around them to both emanate their light, and their dark. All of our energy has ripples and it will affect those around us. It may not be visible and it may not seem immediate, but it does make an impact.

What would happen if you chose to let go of your fear and live more brightly?

What would happen if you recognized others’ fear of showing their light through their negative reactions? Could you keep shining your light if you knew negative reactions were just that, fear? Not a personal judgement against you, but a personal limitation placed upon themselves.

What does that look like for you?

For me, it means stepping back and taking a breath before reacting. It means taking a moment to look at where they are coming from. It means recognizing their fear. It means sending them compassion. It means holding space for both their light, and for my boundaries. It means releasing their judgement. It means stepping into my own light anyway!

My offering to you is to look at where you are holding back. Look at where you allow fear to lead you. Just to be aware of it.

After you are aware of it, you can start to ask yourself if there is another way forward. Do you want to proceed the way you have – allowing fear to lead you? Or, do you want to start to allow your light to shine and lead you as you move forward?

Do this without judgement towards yourself, or towards others. And don’t judge yourself when you find yourself in judgement! Recognize it. Awareness is where this all starts and you can’t move forward if you keep judging yourself.

Notice where you see shifts, however small they may be. Notice the light grow within yourself and within those around you.

We can do this. We can impact positive change. Each and every one of us has the ability to recognize the light within us and within those around us. Each of us can acknowledge the fear bubble up, and each of us can choose to follow the light instead.

The light in me recognizes and honours the light that is also within you.

Namasté
~Alannah

Advertisements

The whirling hamster wheel

Your alarm goes off, you hit snooze. Your alarm goes off, you hit snooze. Your alarm REALLY goes off. It’s time to drag yourself out of bed…and, you’re off!

Get out the door, get coffee, get to work, work, workout, eat, tv, bed. Repeat.

Does that, or something like that, remind you of someone? It’s definitely been me. And, if I’m being honest, it will likely be me again at various points in my life.

This past week, now that I’m only teaching two classes outside of my 9-5, I’ve had the opportunity to take some time in the evenings to step off the hamster wheel. I made the conscious decision to do what brings me joy, specifically, to not just watch tv.

It’s not that my evenings weren’t busy, but in that time, I consciously asked myself: will watching tv bring me joy right now? And, every single time, the answer was no, it will not. So, instead, I took my time to cook, I didn’t feel rushed to get to a yoga class, I read, I listened to music.

I consciously enjoyed my time.

Here’s the thing, we get so rushed because, yes, we try to fit everything into 24 hours, but also, because we don’t consciously decide how we want to spend our time and end up in habits that suck time.

My offering to you is to start recognizing your habits, and begin to question them.

Do they serve you? Do they bring you joy? Are they the best use of your time?

Here’s the thing,  if binge watching Game of Thrones brings you joy, then that’s ok! No judgement.

If you find yourself running out of time and rushing through life, or wanting to do something that you “don’t have time” to do, over and over, that’s when it matters to question. That’s when it matters to pause, before falling into your routine/habit, and ask.

In love,
~Alannah

When things change

As humans, we’re really good when we’re in control, but what happens if something changes that’s out of your control, or what happens when you have to make a decision with your best knowledge in that moment without any time to really think about it?

yoga-keep-calm

There’s a yoga sutra that pulled itself into my consciousness this week:

Te prati prasava heyah suksmah.

“When you think you have it under control, you had better check again. These tendencies are often subtle, and the untrained mind has a way of avoiding the issues. Develop constant introspection, and pay attention.”

~Bhavani Silvia Maki (The Yogi’s Roadmap)

A few things happened that made this teaching feel relevant.

1. A trip that had previously been cancelled is now happening in three weeks and I committed to going, after deciding to not go.

2. Two yoga studios merged and my students are having to adjust.

3. Wednesday was my last night teaching regular classes at a studio I have taught at since it opened.

Wow.

The Trip. I can’t say I was excited for the initial trip, but I was committed and it was an amazing opportunity to experience a new country and work with a team to build houses, including one that I raised the money to fund. Then, there were a few natural events and the trip was cancelled with the plan of rescheduling. When the trip was rescheduled, I wasn’t all in. I needed to process it and decide if it was something I really wanted to do. I came to the decision to not go, but it still didn’t feel right. So I kept sitting on it. Finally, I rebooked. Done.

The Studios. January 1 marked the merging of two studios and January 9 is the change in schedules so this past week has been amazing with getting to teach new students in busy classes. Wednesday was a gloriously full class with many new-to-me faces. For many of them, they were new to the space and were unsettled by the change to the location and schedule. My work, as their teacher, was to acknowledge their discomfort and to help them live their yoga practice. My class included teachings around Te prati prasava heyah suksmah.

The Classes. I have had the privilege to witness the community grow and develop for the past two years. Through teaching four classes a week, I have watched my students become more focused, mobile, and dedicated to the teachings of yoga. The experience has added depth to my teaching and passion for sharing the lessons that yoga has to offer us. These students have really drawn me in and I will miss them dearly. I had held onto these classes because of my students. Changes to the schedule gave me the push that I needed to release these classes in order to pursue other opportunities.

Loss of control.

I thought I had made the decision to not go on the trip. My students had their yoga schedule figured out. My teaching schedule had remained mostly unchanged for two years and my work schedule was adjusted to fit.

How do you handle events outside of your control?

For me, I take a look inside, I ask myself, what do I need to learn from this? What is this telling me? There are no “right” answers to these questions, these answers are open to interpretation as they come from within you.

Some people sit in meditation, I’m still working on that, but I do “sit with” the decision that feels right. I listen to my gut/my first reaction, then I “test” that decision. I pay attention to my reactions to that decision. If that decision doesn’t “feel right”, the thoughts will continue to whirl around my mind. When it doesn’t feel “done” I know it’s not the right decision/next step yet.

When a decision is “final”, sometimes it can feel sudden, but it also feels complete. When I made the call to rebook my flight, it seemed urgent, rushed, but it also felt final, and “right”.

There was no decision for my students, they will have to continue to practice this magical thing called yoga and make the best choices for themselves as they find new teachers and a new routine. My hope is they can see this change as a positive and are able to further develop their practice through both new teachers/styles, and through their own internal practice of living through this change.

Change isn’t easy, but it is constant. The trick is to look at the change, to look at how it makes you feel, acknowledge that, look at the lessons this change can offer you, and keep moving forward with a positive outlook.

In love,
~Alannah

The Start of a New Year

Happy 2017!

Did you start 2017 how you wanted to? I had a slow morning. It was lovely, but slow, and not 100% what I was planning for the start of a new year.

I shared these thoughts with my yoga class today: It’s ok if you didn’t start your 2017 exactly the way you might have wanted to. Do you know why? This practice of yoga, of learning to be present, brings you into a place where not just each year, but each moment is an opportunity for a new beginning.

You can change your thoughts; acknowledge your emotions instead of reacting to them; create a new habit at any time, not just on January 1.

By being more present and aware of your habitual thoughts and reactions, you can change them. Each and every moment that you bring your attention to them and make the conscious choice to change them, you can.

So what if your day didn’t start/continue/end the way you had envisioned? Instead of throwing it all away, recognize the habitual patterns and make the choice to move forward in a different way.

Hint: this is true for fitness/nutrition “resolutions” too.

If you slip into patterns you want to change, the practice is to lovingly acknowledge the slip (without judgement or criticizing yourself) and choose to step forward in the direction you want to move.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and balanced 2017!
~Alannah

Chronic pain is an interesting companion 

What happens when you choose to let chronic pain go?


Chronic pain becomes a part of you. You identify with it. So what happens to that part of your identity when you choose to let that pain go?

I’m referring to some small, annoying shoulder pain. For the most part, it’s just there; sometimes it flares up, but it’s never debilitating.

It might not be physical pain, it might be emotional pain that you’ve been carrying around for so long, you don’t know what would be left of your identity if you were to release it.

We hold on to pain (emotional/physical) because it is known, it is familiar, it is safer than the unknown of our life without that pain. The thing is, we aren’t even aware that we’re holding onto it.

I’m not saying that you can just “let it go”, but I am suggesting that by working with educated practitioners, intention, and awareness you can help to release stubborn pain. The key is, if you want to.

What are you holding onto that you are ready to let go of? Who can you talk to/work with to help you release that pain? How can you nurture yourself to acknowledge your pain and free yourself from its grasp?

Wishing you love and health,
~Alannah

Resolutions vs Goals vs Intentions 

With 2016 wrapping up and 2017 just around the corner, a lot of people are reflecting on what was and looking towards what will be.

I’ve never been a “resolutions” person, but I have been a “goals” person; and I think I’m starting to turn into an “intentions” person. So…what? Semantics!

Here’s how I would distinguish between resolutions, goals, and intentions; as well as how they can all fit into your life.

Resolutions
I would look at resolutions as “new habits.” The New Year is a great time to take a look at habits you would like to implement going forward, but you don’t have to wait for January 1 each year to implement change in your life!

A lot of times, resolutions fail because people try to make sweeping changes all at once. Think: “On January 1, I will: 1) start working out seven days/week, 2) stop eating sugar, 3) sleep 8 hours per night, 4) drink 2L of water a day, 5) stop smoking/drinking, 6) stop eating after 8pm…” So on January 2, when they wake up sore and hung over, they feel like they’ve failed and “why bother!?” Does that sound familiar?

I don’t believe that resolutions are bad, or doomed to failure; I think they have a place as part of the larger picture.

Goals
Maybe you are (or want to be) a goals-driven person. Goals are concrete and have “by when” dates associated with them to help maintain accountability. Goals can be separated into areas of your life (personal, health, career) and are usually broken into time frames (1 year, 5 years, 10 years). Lululemon is known for their goals, and have great goal-setting worksheets.

I see goals as a great way to organize your thoughts. The challenge with goals is that, because they’re concrete, some things in life don’t “fit” into them. Read: “I will be pregnant by age 29.” Yeah…that did not happen (I’m well past 29, no kids)! It’s not to say that it couldn’t have, but the situation at 29 wasn’t right for it, and thank goodness I wasn’t pregnant at 29!

Intentions
So, intentions, they sound so lofty, but used correctly, they can be extremely powerful. Intentions are great for visioning your life. Intentions provide you with an overall concept of what you want in life, but they don’t have “by when” dates attached to them.

One of my favourite yoga sutra is: Prayatna shaitilyananta sama patibhyam.
Translated to mean: Relax the intensity of your effort and meditate on the endless and copious amounts of energy within.

To me, this sutra is the essence of intentions. It’s not saying don’t try or don’t have effort. It’s saying create a vision/set an intention/aim in a direction, then release that energy to be worked on by the Universe (or whatever it is you believe in). The main caveat here is to trust the energy and work with it, not against it.

For example, “My intention is to be fit and healthy as I age. To me, that looks like making my meals at home, drinking enough water, being physically active at least five times per week, and enjoying my life.”
I wouldn’t set that intention, then continue to eat out, not work out, drink only coffee, etc. and expect to magically become fit and healthy!
I also wouldn’t set that intention then fault myself for having a busy week and needing to eat out. I would do my best to find a healthy meal instead of giving up and eating at a fast food restaurant.

Some questions to think of when setting intentions, thank big-picture here:

  1. What is your vision for your life?
  2. What matters to you?
  3. How do you want your life to feel in the future?
  4. What are the elements of your life that make you happy?
  5. What do you want more of?
  6. What makes you feel fulfilled?

Whatever tool(s) you use to look at and vision your life, I strongly suggest writing them down!

In love,
~Alannah

“us” vs “them”

White vs Black. Trump vs Hillary. People vs Police. East vs West. WE are all one! There’s a lot going on out there right now. I guess this really isn’t new, but it does seem to be intensifying at the moment.

There’s an interpretation of Namasté that I LOVE:

My soul honours your soul.
I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides.
I honour the light, love, truth, beauty & peace within you,
Because it is also within me.
In sharing these things,
We are united,
We are the same,
We are one.

~unknown

Isn’t that beautiful!?

“Us” vs “Them” comes from a place of anger; a place of fear; a place of being closed to understanding.

Knowing that we are all the same at our core; knowing that we are all one as these living breathing beings helps us to come from a place of understanding; a place of compassion; a place of love.

We may not agree, it is unlikely for you to change someone’s beliefs, but just because you may not believe the same thing, that doesn’t mean that one is wrong and one is right. It doesn’t mean that one must push fear and hate on to the other.

It’s not about being perfect tomorrow; it’s about the practice of becoming aware of your tendencies and consistently asking yourself if you are pitting yourself against someone or something. It’s about saying to yourself, over and over and over again, “at the root of this, we are all one; we are more alike than different.” It is about consistently returning to the belief that we are all one.

Namasté,
~Alannah

Are we JUST consumers?

Have you watched the documentary ‘True Cost’ yet? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it – you can find it on Netflix. The director/creator of that film, Andrew Morgan, just did a podcast with Rich Roll which brought it back to my consciousness. In the podcast, Andrew, says something about how we’ve been labeled (turned into) consumers and we believe that we don’t have a choice – that we’re just bystanders.

This just isn’t the case! One person CAN make a change and an impact!

Five years ago, lululemon began the SeaWheeze – a beautiful half marathon followed by yoga and an outdoor concert. I had never run that far before, but FUN. was the band playing the concert that evening and I wanted to go see the concert, so I signed up to run. Btw, this was the year that FUN. won a Grammy – they were kind of a big deal. Anyway, I digress. The other piece of this event is that lululemon, being a clothing retailer, creates specialty product that is sold on the SeaWheeze weekend. Yahoo!

Fast forward five years. The SeaWheeze now sells out within minute, well in advance of the band being announced, and the SeaWheeze shop is INSANE! People were paying to have someone line up for them the day before the store opened; people were posting items online while they were in the store to find out if they could resell them; the shop is supposed to be open all weekend, but it sells out on day one now.

I picked up my race package first thing in the morning this year and I watched people run into the shop! I also, later, stood in the line for an hour; however, I picked up three things once I was in the store, then looked down, looked at the cash line, and realized it really didn’t need or want any of it.

Ok, so what can we learn from this?

We are constantly told that we are just consumers – we are expected to consume. We are expected to covet what’s new, better, trendy, but do we have to be that way? Do we have to give in? Will it really make us happier, healthier, more loving people?

In yoga, there are the Yamas and Niyamas that are basically the guidelines for how to live. There are five of each (kind of like the 10 Commandments). The fourth Yama is Aparigraha, translated to mean “non-attachment/non-possessiveness”.

I love this description of Aparigraha:

This important yama teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right.

Part of removing ourselves from the label of “consumer” is to become more conscious about what we’re bringing into our space, why we’re bringing it in (what purpose it’s serving), and if it’s the choice we want to make.

Are we collecting stuff for the sake of having it? Because someone told us we should want it? Because we think it will make us happier?

I find this to be an extremely difficult practice and I definitely find myself wanting the newest iPhone, boots, scarf, brand-name jeans… We don’t perfect these moral and ethical codes; we continuously bring ourselves back to them. We constantly have to ask ourselves, do I need this? Will this make me happy? Will this make me a kinder person? Will this choice make me more loving?

Sometimes we really do “need” to purchase a new ____, and we all need to purchase food. So how do we make the best choices for ourselves, the environment and those creating the goods that we buy?

Being conscious about the consumer choices we’re making is still challenging, but with more of us making these conscious choices, they will become easier to make. Organic milk didn’t come to Walmart because Walmart wanted it!

What and how you buy MATTERS! If you believe in supporting local farmers, then buy foods that are in season and local. If you believe people shouldn’t be killed making your clothing, look into who is making your clothing and invest into products that last and that are made to a higher standard.

Right now, this costs higher; however, if more of us choose to support this, the costs will come down.

We don’t need all the clothes that are in our closets; we don’t need the newest release of something when our old product works just fine; we don’t need to over-purchase.

I am NOT just a consumer. I am a conscious human who wants to do better for the World around me. I want my choices to bring positive change into the World.

This is a practice and we’re all working on it together. Please share what helps you make more conscious consumer choices.

In love,
Alannah

Let’s talk about Fear

Fear, it’s a funny thing; it keeps us safe, but it can also hold us back.

In an effort to work with my fears, I’ll be completely honest with you; right now, my fears are holding me back from achieving my highest potential. Part of this fear is a fear of the unknown; part of this fear is the fear of failure (whatever that means); and part of this fear is the fear that I will need to continue to live up to this heightened state – the status quo allows me to sit back and take breaks/rest/find balance and I fear that living a life where I strive to achieve my highest potential will mean losing the ability to relax.

Now the funny thing about fear is that it can be completely and utterly deceptive. Because fear keeps us from the unknown, only my imagination can “tell” me that these are fears to be concerned about. When, in reality, I don’t know if that’s what will happen. I’m sure there will be moments when I will feel the need to rest or take a break so I don’t think this fear is a rational fear.

Rational versus irrational fear. Rational fears keep us safe from physical danger. These are good fears to pay attention to – we can still take calculated/educated risks in life, but these are the fears we have to keep us alive.

Irrational fears, although they may present physical symptoms, hold us back from taking safe and calculated movements that take us outside of our comfort zone. Take a look at these fears, examine them – are they real? Are they rational? Are they irrational? What are we afraid of? What’s the underlying message behind the fear? What is the deeper emotion? What can you do, today, that is a baby toe step outside of a fear? What aren’t you going after because of your fear?

The most important step to take, is the first step.

In love,
Alannah

Finding Balance

Do we ever “find balance” in our lives?

I am often told that I seem to be good at finding balance in my life; I think it’s because I’m constantly making conscious choices – which are rarely easy to make.

One of my goals in life is to help others live happy, balanced lives – easier said than done. Finding balance is a constant practice; and sometimes when we think we’ve found balance, something happens and it’s gone – poof! Balance isn’t something we find and maintain! Life is constantly changing and so we’re constantly in this process of bringing ourselves back into balance. And sometimes that means there are stretches of time when we live out of balance – usually part of this time is unknowingly.

Each moment we are faced with decisions that will either help us find/remain in balance, or will knock something out of balance – and sometimes, that’s ok! In order to move forward, chase dreams, make changes in our lives, we, usually, have to knock ourselves out of balance. It’s about being aware of these choices.

Right now I’m rekindling my desire to live my life to it’s fullest potential; part of that is to set goals and check-in with them and yet, part of this is to also consciously make choices that will allow me to stay balanced.

So what is balance and how does one achieve it – while still following/finding your purpose/passion?

According to Merriam-Webster, balance is defined as: “the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall; the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling; a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.”

That’s great! So…??

I find that it helps to know what my “end game” is – what are you striving to achieve? What is your purpose?

When I notice that I’m not living in balance, I like to think through my commitments and decide what matters most to me and what I can give up – sometimes these aren’t the same! That’s where the difficult choices come into play. If the things I can give up are the things that matter most to me, I ask if those commitments mean more to me than living in balance for a while – if they are, that’s fine, I’ve made the choice to continue until a new opportunity presents itself to adjust again.

If I realize that I’m ok giving up a few things to bring myself back into balance, most of the time, there is a lag. It’s important to act quickly because living consciously knowing what you need to do to bring your life closer to balance, being able to do it, and not doing it is agonizing (at least for me)!

Knowing that I’ve taken action to bring my life towards balance, or that I’ve consciously decided that I’m ok not living in balance for the moment due to the “importance” of what I’d be giving up is what helps me to feel like I’m, usually, living a balanced life.

I hope this helps!

 

 

A Vegan Experiment – The Recap

As my Vegan Experiment comes to an end and I start to reintroduce foods, what I had hoped would happen is actually happening! I am starting to question What I want, Why I want it, and Do I really want it or do I just want it because I can, and because I had wanted it either before this experiment started or during the experiment.

Throughout this month I have wanted everything, even the things I don’t normally eat and I figured out that I wanted those things because they were magically taken off my options list. Now that I’m looking to eat those foods again, I’m questioning if I actually really do want to reintroduce certain foods, just because I can.

At Whole Foods over the weekend I found myself confused about what to buy; why did I want a salad with egg and cheese? Was that what my body was really asking for or was I tempted by the option of having it? Would it make me feel good after eating it, or would it just make my tastebuds happy? I bought the eggs, but abstained from the cheese; I have yet to do anything with the eggs.

I also purchased two amazing milk chocolate bars, that are currently sitting, unopened, in my fridge… Prior to this month, I had gotten into a habit of eating A LOT of chocolate, consistently; after almost 31 days of (mostly) avoiding chocolate, my habit feels broken. And I’m calling it a habit, because eating chocolate wasn’t for enjoyment, it was because it was there and I wanted it. To be honest, I’m actually scared to break that barrier and have a piece of chocolate.

Overall the experiment has actually been what I needed: insight into my habits and an opportunity to break some of those habits. It also provided me with a better understanding of why diets fail and reaffirmed my belief that the best way to “diet” is to create small, sustainable lifestyle changes that focus on adding instead of taking away.

I am excited to eat certain foods again, but I will eat those foods with more awareness; something I’m hoping will last as this experiment fades in my memory. Who knows, I may pick it back up again in the future, but for now, I’m happy to remove the label! First thing on my list? Salmon! I don’t know if I’ve ever craved it as much as I have for this past month.

A Vegan Experiment

A few months ago my best friend suggested going vegan for a month. My eating habits lean towards clean vegetarian most of the time so I figured it wouldn’t be that hard. Boy was I wrong!

As someone who makes ethical food choices and avoids restricting food (unless there is a physical reason to do so), restricting my food to this level has been more of a mental challenge than a physical one. Even with my busy and active schedule, my energy levels have been fine and I haven’t found any issues recovering from my activities. I also haven’t noticed a change in my mental capacity; what has changed though is my desire for foods I don’t normally eat!

Prior to starting this experiment, I don’t remember the last time I ate cheese; since starting this month of veganism, my brain has told me every day that I want cheese. Thankfully, these aren’t physical cravings (like I sometimes get for DQ Blizzards), but just the fact that “I can’t” means that “I want”.

This experiment is teaching me that, just like when we were children and someone told us we weren’t allowed to do something, when we put restrictions on ourselves, all we want is what has been restricted.

My overall philosophy on food is to eat good, healthy food that is enjoyable, but don’t deamonize “treat” foods.

If you don’t find healthy foods enjoyable, begin by making small transitions, not massive overhauls; and avoid labelling foods as “bad”. When we set strict rules, deprivation follows; and deprivation leads to binging on what has been placed off limits.

If I’m trying to adjust a recipe to make it healthier, I start by substituting one ingredient; if that works, I’ll try substituting two ingredients the next time. This can be done with a recipe, a snack, a meal, a day, a week…wherever you start is perfectly wonderful! It’s all about starting the journey to a life-long, sustainable change.

As for me, I will continue this experiment until February 6. After that I will be back to my normal food habits: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” (Michael Pollen); “I’m a human, I eat food” (Alannah). When I do eat meat, I try to select healthy, local, organic/wild meat. And I will do my best not to binge on everything I currently “want” because I know I actually only want it because I “can’t” have it.

For the Love of Food!

I’m lucky, I know, I’ve been blessed with good genetics and brought up by a mum who taught me to eat because I needed to. This meant small, clean, simple meals using olive oil and spices for the flavours instead of butter and cream. This upbringing has instilled a love of healthy foods with some treats thrown in the mix (I have a nasty sweet tooth and minimal willpower) and the ability to make healthy food that (I think) tastes good!

It saddens me when people aren’t excited to eat a “healthy” meal – a bed of lettuce with fresh veggies, lean protein and some lemon juice dressing – because they feel they’re limited to the boring and mundane. I know we all get into food ruts, but these ruts shouldn’t be caused by limiting your food options due to a diet! That, my friends, leads to a very viscous cycle of deprivation followed by indulgence, followed by…

It’s hard to reverse cravings you’ve spent a lifetime developing, but there are ways to minimize them, and I’m not going to tell you to drink water and wait 15 minutes, because, although wonderful in theory, does not work when my brain latches onto a Blizzard craving! My three craving-busting tips are:

  1. Work out! When a craving hits, work it off before you eat it, this does two things 1) gives you a workout, which leads to 2) raises your endorphin levels and lowers your desire for crap food
  2. Think about your craving and ask yourself if it’s really worth it, if the answer is “yes, if I don’t give into this craving I’m going to eat far more”, then
  3. Give in! Make the conscious decision to enjoy whatever it is you’re craving, and maybe order the smallest, pre-portioned size (not the family-sized bag of M&M’s because they’re on sale)

A point about number 2 up there; a lot of times, we try to replace the real thing with a “more healthy” substitution, these substitutions are usually chemical sh*t storms developed in a lab as an attempt to fool your body, they don’t work. If you’re craving sugar, don’t try to replace it with an artificial sweetener! However, if you’ve thought about your craving and have decided you can do better, a little honey won’t hurt.

Be conscious of your cravings and, as I’ve said before, add so many wonderful, healthy, clean, natural FOODS that you don’t have space for the junk anymore.

So onto the healthy tips:

  1. Use onions, garlic, spices, chili flakes… Chili flakes have become my go-to when a dish is lacking a little je ne sais quoi.
  2. Use millet (just bought some and excited to experiment!), quiona, zucchini, squash, rice noodles, rice, tofu noodles… there are so many options these days, play with them!
  3. Know your comfort foods. I LOVE spaghetti, maybe because we ate a lot of it when I was growing up, but, good golly, do I ever love it! But here’s the thing, my spaghetti sauce is loaded with spinach (or Kale), onions, garlic and organic tofu (or extra lean meat).
  4. Play with methods of preparing your food. Bored with baked chicken breast? Try stir-frying it for a salad topper.
  5. Did I mention spices!? Play! Get creative!
  6. Jump onto Pintrest to see what others are doing. When I was getting back into shrimp, I searched Pintrest for shrimp recipes and was amazed with all the options.
  7. Try to know what you’re eating. If you can’t/don’t know how/don’t have time to make it yourself, do your best to find a product as close to how you would make it if you could.
  8. In the words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”

There is no magic pill, no magic workout, no replacement for eating good (tasty) food and sweating once a day.

Yoga Musings

Instead of sleeping (or being out on a Friday night) I thought I’d share a few random thoughts I’ve had recently.

Yoga Goggles
There are many reasons why men should practice yoga: build strength, stretch and lengthen muscles, improve movement and functionality of the body, stress reduction, challenge…fit women in luon (whatever gets you there boys!), but here’s another reason for (single) men to roll out a mat: Yoga Goggles. Yoga Goggles act similar to Beer Goggles, but healthier; when an average looking guy chooses to attend a yoga class of his own free will, he instantly becomes hotter! I highly recommend you come to class and say hi to the cute girl sweating next to you.

Being “Good” at Yoga
I recently met someone who has never practiced yoga, so I shared that now, I can’t imagine my life without a regular practice; however, it took me many years to get to this point. His reply was “you must be pretty good at it”; which got me thinking, that’s really the amazing thing about yoga, there’s always a new layer to peel back and discover!

He then asked for an example and this was my response:
It’s a pretty cool form of exercise because as you practice, your body gets stronger AND more flexible and your mind becomes quieter. So as those changes occur, new poses become available for you, and new feelings within old poses arise. When I started, I had the physical strength to do handstand, but my fear (head/thoughts) was my limiting factor, now my head is catching up to my body.

As these thoughts dance inside my head during my practice, I also marvel at how those changes and shifts can happen daily; some days my arms feel strong and some days my hips feel tight and pinchy; all those combinations alter the practice each and every moment!

I was talking to someone else recently about yoga and equated it to growing out your hair (guys, this might not make sense): for months, it feels like your hair hasn’t grown at all, then one morning, you wake up and notice “all of a sudden” your hair is longer. I touched on this in a previous post, but I feel it fits in well here and is worth repeating: yoga (and life) is not always about achieving the next pose (goal), sometimes it’s about building the foundations, getting stronger in other ways, then “all of a sudden”, poof, the pose is there for you (you’ve achieved that BHAG, your hair has grown)!

Travel Blogging

Who knows how this is going to turn out!

I am currently chilling at LAX waiting for my next flight to Miami, then it’s on to ARUBA to complete a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with the amazing Tiffany Cruikshank.

I never did write about my experience with this training so maybe now’s the time…or maybe not.

I’m going to start here: Today has been such an amazing day so far! I didn’t go to the lululemon warehouse sale or a yoga class this morning; however, I ended up walking into my neighbourhood lulu and was helped by the Educator who is currently organizing the in-store yoga! Gave her my info and will hopefully get to teach there in the near future.

Then my dentist appointment was moved up by 30 minutes which was perfect because it got me to the airport right on time for my flight! On the plane I took a picture of Mount St Helen’s (?? Maybe ??) and the woman in the seat in front of me asked if I would email it to her; turns out her daughter is currently living in Kelowna and hanging out in the same circles I was when I lived there so I’ll be following up with them about Kelowna life.

It’s moments like that that you realize how small the world is and how inter-connected we are; which is nice when you’re traveling (both physically and through this life). Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that there are other humans out there 😉

I almost forgot, so far, the boarder agents, security people and shuttle drivers have been extremely friendly and helpful; even going out of their ways to assist (even at LAX)!

Another note on that thought process…my attitude today was different then normal, “vacation mode”. Have you ever noticed how when you smile and make small talk with strangers, amazing things happen? It happens on a rare sunny day in Vancouver too; random people say hi to strangers on the street. What would happen if we all tried to carry this positivity with us every day!?

New Years Goal Setting

New Year’s Eve, so much pressure to find The party, get dressed up, have someone to kiss at midnight…it’s kind of this single-girl’s nightmare; so this year, I’m putting on my best wunder unders, favourite tank and rolling out my yoga mat. It will be an evening of asana, intension, music, coconut water and raw chocolate; call me lame, but I’m pretty excited about kicking off 2013 on this positive foot!

As cliche as it is, New Years is a great time to clean the slate and layout some goals for the coming year. I prefer the word “goal” over “resolution” because I feel goals are more specific; therefore, “easier” to achieve. The thing about “New Years Resolutions” is that people jump on the January 1 bandwagon and try to change everything, all at once, and, inevitably, fail, then give up. Usually all this happens within the month of January.

So, how does one increase the chance of success? I like setting goals and I like the SMART model for basic goal setting; make the goal:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable (I like lulu’s Audacious)
  • Realistic
  • Timely

However, I don’t like “basic” goals so I like these tips from lululemon on achieving BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals):

  • Break it down — create smaller goals towards your BHAG
  • Create it in present tense — you’re not going to do something, it’s already been done!
  • Make it measurable — did you achieve it, yes or no?
  • Use affirmative language — “just do it”, don’t avoid it
  • Be specific — how often/much/many…
  • BY WHEN? — when will this goal become a reality?

As I’ve blogged in previous posts, 2012 has been an incredible year of goal crushing for me and a few of the things I’ve found to help me are:

  • a list on my fridge “2012 is the year that I…”
  • a list on the screen-saver of my phone “by 2016 I…”
  • a white board on my wall with affirmations
  • vision boards

In addition to revisiting and updating my 2012 goals for 2013; I will be adding a new trick in 2013: an empty glass jar! As good/great/awesome things happen throughout the year, write them down and put them into the jar. For me, this will serve two purposes:

  1. a reminder to stay positive
  2. a reminder of all the amazing things that happen in the year, even if there are a few goals that aren’t achieved

It’s also a nice way to remember the year on December 31, 2013!

What are your BHAGs? How are you planning on achieving them? What tips to you have?

Life Lessons from the Mat

There are many moments in life when we feel like we’ve slid down a slip & slide to the bottom of the Grand Canyon…ok, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but sometimes it does feel that way. But tonight, when I popped into eka pada koundinyasana (not me), I realized that no matter how many times we stumble, slip, fall into an abyss, we’ve still made some movement in a forward direction.

When I first started practicing yoga, koundinyasana seemed crazier than handstand to me (and I still fear handstand without someone to support me), so I kept practicing yoga and working on other poses (bakasana also not me). Then, one day, one of my teachers walked me into koundinyasana without me noticing.

Then I stumbled. It wasn’t a consistant pose for me yet. So I kept practicing yoga and working on other poses. But now, I knew what it felt like to be in that pose!

It’s been about a year since Crista walked me into koundinyasana for the first time and I’m still not sure I have it 100% of the time, but I definitely have it more times than I don’t. And every day that I don’t have it, I keep practicing yoga and other poses and moving in that forward direction towards it being a 100% of the time pose.

Take this lesson off the mat, in your career, even if you’ve never had the feeling of pure passion for your career, you’re learning and growing and developing towards that position; or, if you have felt that passion and slipped, you know what it feels like and are moving in that forward direction yet again.

In love, even if you’ve never fallen in love, you’re laying the foundation to build a strong, meaningful relationship by spending time working on yourself, or dating duds, or experiencing bad relationships that you don’t want, or good relationships with someone who just isn’t quite The One. But, inevitably, one day, it’ll just be there for you (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

Even if you don’t think you’re heading in the right direction, or if you’ve forgotten about the goal for a moment, it’s still there and you’re still doing things that are leading you towards it so when you remember it, or when an opportunity to try it again presents itself, you’ll be that much more ready for it.

Oh Yoga, the Great Teacher!

Monkey Mind…time to get honest

Recently I’ve felt my mind is scattered — too much to do and absolutely no focus on anything! So this post will be an attempt at focusing in preparation for the beginning of 2013. 2012 has been a year of goal crushing, but with the year coming to a close (much faster than I had expected), I’m finding myself spinning trying to wrap up loose ends, and getting nowhere fast.

With the holiday season upon us, my teaching schedule is winding down, leaving me with more time in the week to work on my goal “homework”. Ok, I put that in quotes, but really, it’s real homework.

There are two key things left on my 2012 goal list:

  • Start dating someone with the potential to become my husband (it’s been an intention, but I haven’t made any steps to actually meet anyone)
  • Complete my Personal Training certification (this is where Monkey Mind is coming into play)

Also, I will be in Aruba January 19 to complete my Yoga Teacher Training and have A LOT of homework to do BEFORE I leave!

So…the plan…as always, dating is being pushed to the back-burner (much to my family’s dismay).

Here is my commitment: I spend a minimum of 1 hour per night AND 2 hours per weekend day on work related to attaining my Yoga and/or Personal Training certification until December 31, 2012.

This can include:

  • Observing a yoga class
  • Teaching a yoga class
  • Watching an online lecture
  • Taking notes on human anatomy and systems
  • Reading a book related to either of these goals (I have to do a book report as part of my YTT)
  • Creating personal training programs
  • Doing a Home Practice

Outcome: by committing to the above, I will be confident in my abilities to write and pass both my Personal Training and Yoga tests in January 2013.

This is my pre New Years Resolution.

What do you want to get accomplished before 2013 begins? Maybe we can encourage each other to finish 2012 even stronger than we started it!

Remembering to feel inside and out

I started this post a couple weeks ago and wasn’t sure how to wrap it up and put a pretty bow on it, so I’m coming back to it with a different view…maybe…trying to…

A couple weeks ago I kept catching this cute guys’ eye at yoga, and we’d smile at each other, but that was it. Then, a few Saturdays ago, we were at the same class and during the class, this thought popped into my head:

Yoga is a wonderful tool to help us Western-World-Busy-Bodies remember to slow down and turn inside; to feel what our body is trying to tell us and to, maybe, listen; however, I’ve become so good at looking inside that I’ve actually forgotten about what the people around me are feeling! I’m not talking about what their yoga practice looks like, but, more, what the emotional state of the class is.

Or, in this case, if he’s just a smiley guy, or if he was specifically directing those smiles at me. It doesn’t seem to matter how old we get, it always comes back to a boy…whatever it takes right?

I try to focus on what I’m projecting into the world, but, in that attempt, sometimes I can forget to tune into what those around me are projecting.

I wish I could say it was me he was specifically directing those smiles at, but, to be honest, I haven’t really seen him much since that class so who knows! No matter what, it was a good reminder to be aware of not just the aura I’m emitting, but also what those around me are projecting.

Amazing things happen when you don’t turn on the TV

On weekdays I set two alarms, the radio goes off at 6:05 and my cell kicks me out of bed (or tries to) at 6:15. Apparently I forgot to turn off my radio alarm last night so instead of rolling over and uselessly dozing for two hours, or crawling onto my couch and watching TV, I made myself a cup of tea, started studying the muscles of the shoulder and made a playlist for my yoga class tomorrow.

Then I felt like I had been productive enough so I turned on the TV, flicked through the guide and decided I could better spend my time writing a quick blog…stranger things have happened, but it’s always nice when you are aware of the choices you make! Many weekend mornings have seen my aware choice be watching TV, but I love being aware of making the conscious choice to not!

All that being said, I’ve been awake for three hours and I desperately want coffee before yoga!

I will tell you all about my Yoga Teacher Training shortly 🙂