Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Category

Doctor’s Orders

November 14, 2011


I just returned from the doctor with a clean bill of health. However, I did go home with one prescription to help me to relax and be stress-free with my busy lifestyle. My doctor, who is not a naturopath or alternative medicine practitioner just told me to keep practicing what I preach – get at least 20 minutes of meditation daily.

She explained that there are studies in cardio-vascular health correlating meditation to reduction of heart problems. That beautiful heart pumps roughly 2000 gallons of blood a day, and in under a minute, your heart can pump blood to every cell in your body. That’s no small feat!

Studies presented at an American Heart Association meeting demonstrated that even high risk cardiac patients benefit from meditation. Patience saw a reduction in coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks and other problems associated with obesity by adding meditation to their daily lives.

Not sure how to get started? There are plenty of books out there to help you learn, but reading isn’t necessarily doing. A favorite book on Breathe’s teacher trainee list is “Meditation Made Easy” by Dr. Lorin Roche. Dr. Roche is one of my favorite teachers and I recommend making it to one of his workshops when he is in the area.

But here’s the nitty-gritty: What you really need to do is start. That’s the hardest part, I promise you that it gets easier with time as most things do. Below are some little checklists that have helped me and many of my students find their seat.

1. a blanket, cushion, block or chair
2. music (try some from here)
3. a timer or clock with an alarm

1. Make your health a priority – You get one body/mind this time around, take care of it!
2. Make time – In this busy city life we lead, we never feel there is enough time. You can always carve out a few minutes.
3. Manage your schedule – This step is key and goes hand-in-hand with the two steps above. Keep a
calendar, make to-do lists, and stay on target – SCHEDULE “me” time. If you fall behind, don’t automatically go to “me” time and pencil in other stuff.
4. Find a space – Whether it’s arriving to yoga class a little early to start your meditation or turning a corner of your home into a sactuary, do it.
5. Get comfortable – Being seated on the floor isn’t comfy for most of us, but it can be. Don’t be afraid to use props. You can sit on a blanket or block and even extend the legs if you find you get cramping or feel fidgity.
6. Set realistic goals – Don’t expect to be completely still, completely focused the entire time, or able to sit for an extended period of time. Use a timer so you don’t have to worry about when your sit is up. Start with just a few minutes, then gradually increase over several weeks to reach your target length of meditation.
7. Ready, set, meditate!

1. Start by closing your eyes and relaxing comfortably.
2. Focus on your breath. Hear it, feel it, allow it to deepen and lengthen.
3. As thoughts come into your mind, try and not focus on them, just let them be. As the thoughts trickle in, they begin to trickle out again. When you find yourself paying attention to something else, come back to your breath as your focal point.
4. Slowly you begin to drift off…find that place between sleep and wake.
5. If you feel an itch, scratch it. If your legs fall asleep, it’s ok to move. Just try to be as still as possible allowing the mind to rest.
6. Allow your timer to bring back to the awareness of the room and open your eyes.
7. Pat yourself on the back for a job well-done. What matters is that you started your practice!


I’m just titling this one PEGGY DYER

October 5, 2011

You are stronger than you think you are. – Peggy Dyer (Breathe’s very own cycling coach & inspirer)

Let me start this blog on a tangent that may be more relevant than my original blog thoughts by telling you about someone. Her name is Peggy Dyer and this woman is FABULOUS! Peggy wandered into my life at one of my darkest moments. This stranger, as she was at the time, called me on the phone and I had to choke back tears to put on my “professional” voice. She explained who she was and how she had heard from a mutual friend I was having a bad day and wanted me to know that she was thinking about me. Yes, that is really how Peggy and I met!

Peggy has a big voice over the phone so I don’t know why I was surprised to see she was a big woman when we met face to face. She did explain she didn’t “look like a cycling coach” but that didn’t matter since her classes were awesome. I was excited about her positive attitude and vibrant energy and I thought, what the heck, another cycling coach with a new perspective will be good for the studio and so we threw her on the schedule. Peggy’s classes were slow to build but once people went to her classes, they were hooked. I get email after email about this woman’s ability to change people’s lives, all from the saddle of a bike.

Not only is Peggy inspiring as a coach, but her students have watched 50 pounds melt off of her and it has given them reason to stick with their ride. I received one comment from a student that explained she didn’t like summer because she wasn’t comfortable wearing anything that showed her arms or legs because she was overweight, but now she beams from across the room in spandex, YES SPANDEX, bike shorts and couldn’t be happier with her body! You wanna know why? Because Peggy told her she was strong. So much stronger than she ever knew. Peggy has created a support group of wonderful people without even knowing it. So, I wanted to just share her wisdom with you so she could touch your life, as she has touched mine and so many others.

Shameless promotion: If you wanna check out her class this month, Pegs is our Teacher of the Month so you can drop-in for only $8!!!

So, on with the blog…

Several months ago I overheard the end of Peggy’s cycling class when she told her students “You are stronger than you think you are.” I stopped dead in my tracks. She was right! We all limit ourselves because we just don’t think we can do what we set out to. After marinating on this wisdom for a few days I felt compelled to put it to the test…off the mat and bike.

I have a weakness for shoes. A serious weakness. I was going to attempt to put Pegs’ words to the test and go into my favorite shoe store, only to window shop. I had never done this before. I just simply didn’t go if I didn’t have money to spend and would even find my way in there even when I didn’t. So, after my regular wander around the store in a clock-wise direction, I found myself growing roots at the clearance section. Well, surely, I didn’t mean these shoes were off limits–THEY ARE HALF PRICE! AND MY SIZE! I tried them on. Perfect. They even went with the clothes I was wearing and that was a sign, wasn’t it?

NO!!!! It wasn’t! I heard Peggy’s words creep into my thoughts, even though I tried vigorously to ignore her. But she was right. I am stronger than I think I am. I didn’t need the shoes. I could walk away and find strength in my decision to NOT purchase them. I went into the store a week later with the intent to purchase the shoes and tried them on again. They were no longer calling to me. I searched the store frantically to find something else to carry home but nothing screamed, “Take me with you!” I learned to take a step back and realize that I really was stronger than my desire for new shoes.

Now this seems like a silly little story to relate to working out or getting into your practice. But really, it’s the little things we need to find strength in; use mind over matter and we can move mountains. Whether you are grunting to make it through that last sprint on the bike, or need to take just one more breath on your mat to hold that glorious pose, find comfort in the strength you didn’t even know was there. Because you know what? It is….

Today’s contemplation will seem more like an interview question. It is one I ask of all my teacher trainees, one I learned to answer in a marketing class. What are your greatest strengths? How do you embody these strengths?

Allow the mantra to unfold in the mind’s eye with the inhale “I am” and the exhale “so strong.”

Using the Past

September 27, 2011

You aren’t who you are in spite of your past but because of it. – Anonymous Beloved Yoga Teacher

A wise teacher once said the above to me and it has had a profound effect on my life. I often find myself quoting it in class to my own students. So often we look back our past and only see the failures and tribulations and wonder, “What if…” We find ourselves feeling sorry for events that have taken place in our lives, opportunities missed and challenges not met.

What we need to do instead, is be thankful for those past failures because each one taught us something about ourselves. Even Donald Trump has filed bankruptcy three times and you didn’t see him running home with his tail between his legs. He just put on a new clump of hair, called himself The Donald, and learned from what didn’t work to create the next successful business.

Today’s contemplations is this: What adversities brought you to this leg of your journey? How did you turn that adversity around to make lemonade out of lemons? How can you continue to sip the sweet nectar of your past and turn it into brightness for your future?

Finding Grace

September 20, 2011
Gracefulness has been defined to be the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.” – William Hazlitt

Often times in my classes I’ll ask my students to find grace between the asanas. That simple step from back to front of the mat. That quiet breath that takes you from your lunge into Warrior I. Even that last bit of energy you expend as you pull one more pedal stroke to get to the top of our climb on the bike. It is because your yoga practice isn’t made up of each asana individually, but of all you do on AND OFF your mat. Today I ask you to be bold and step into the full evolution of grace, filled with revolution in your life! This is no simple task but I expect each and every one of you to STEP IT UP and SHINE! Why? Because you CAN and you WILL!!!!

I believe in the power of positive thought–by harmonizing with the soul the body becomes that outward expression of grace we search for day in and day out. In a blog in March I asked you to contemplate how a commitment to yoga could be used to affect your life physically, mentally and emotionally. What did you want to accomplish and how did you plan to do it? Are you still on the path? It is now time to check in with how you answered yourself and re-ask the same questions. Have you seen/felt a change? If so, how? If not, why? 

Finding Grace isn’t always easy. If it weren’t so elusive, don’t you think everyone would live by it? Each and every day you have an opportunity to find it. It presents itself in tough situations, last-minute changes and those moments when it would be so much easier to just quit than face what lays ahead.  I recently watched Evan Almighty with my daughter. There was a scene that stuck out for me and I want to leave you with that today for your contemplation.

Lemonade Anyone?

March 27, 2011

Lama Surya Das once said, “Gratitude is my favorite prayer.” Finding gratitude in life can sometimes be a challenge when we are handed lemons instead of a refreshing glass of lemonade. Even as a yoga teacher, I find it hard to be grateful and find grace in all that comes my way. However, if it weren’t for those sour moments we encounter, would grace be as sweet? Probably not.

I’ve had my fair share of letdowns, meltdowns and run-arounds. I’ve made mistakes and have a past checkered with less than stellar decisions. But I’ve also worked hard, been persistent and decided that no matter what, I would keep getting up, no matter how many times I was knocked down.

A few years ago my life fell apart. I was laid off from my dream job, my marriage fell apart and I was severely injured when I was hit by a car on my bike. These events made it so I was no longer able to afford my home and I had to move. This upheaval sent me into a long and intense custody battle over my daughter. There were times in which getting out of bed was an accomplishment. I felt as if I had hit rock bottom and was devastated. But you know what? When you are at rock bottom, the only way to go is up, right?

Finding gratitude in my life for the accomplishments I achieved while I was down, the love and support I had from friends and family, and the tiny light I could see at the end of the tunnel brought me through it all. Some days are rockier than others, but I can always look back at what I endured and feel pride in finding my way.

When life throws lemons your way, I have every faith you can squeeze some lemonade out, no matter what. Your contemplation today is simply this: What are you grateful for in your life RIGHT NOW? Make this today’s prayer.

Break Free of Comfort

March 16, 2011

“Don’t get too comfortable with who you are at any given time – you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be.”
– Jon Bon Jovi

I know, you must be thinking, “Did she just quote Bon Jovi?” Yes, yes, I did. And this wisdom is a common theme in living your yoga. Anyone who has attended my class has heard me ask you to leave your comfort zone.

When was the last time you did something that terrified you? When was the last time you took a chance?

Many of us live our day to day in fear that we will fail, so why bother trying. Had anyone told me that I would be the owner of a yoga and cycling studio even three years ago I would have told them they were nuts. I loved my high paying, corporate job in television. I thrived there. I did, however, wish that I had more time to ride my bike and practice yoga. And the lesson, of “Be careful what you wish for” rang true when I was laid off along with a wave of other media producers, with no jobs in sight. This lack of choice to stay in my comfort bubble, pushed me to rediscover my passion and what made me tick. It made me take that chance on myself. And now, I’m doing what I love and loving what I do each and every day.

Today I ask you to step out of that comfortable space. I’m not asking you to quit your job on impulse or run red lights on your commute home from the office, but I am asking you to take a breath and look at your life with objectivity. What habits have you formed that you don’t even think about? When is the last time you walked into your favorite restaurant and ordered something new? Took a new route to the grocery store? Sat and were still at your desk for an entire minute with your eyes closed?

This is your opportunity to become who you want to be. So go for it!