photo by Melinda Parrish
Yoga isn’t about pushing, forcing, exerting, or trying to achieve the posture.
In fact, these are the very things that get in the way of you and your practice. A good instructor will tell you that monitoring your breathing is the way to tell if you’re pushing too hard. If your breath is strained, forced, or constricted, you’re not realizing the full benefits of your practice. Yoga is about allowing your body to go as far as it can on a given day, as a way to show your body love through movement.
Disclaimer: I’m a hardwired introvert. As a child, my solitary tendencies were so severe that they led me to avoid school events, birthday parties, and especially (gulp) team sports. Fast forward 30 years, and my reserve has eroded into a softer, more socially acceptable version. I’ve still been called “distant,” “hard-to-know,” and—one of my personal favorites—“pleasantly reserved,” but I now traverse the meandering path between poised conversationalist and social escape artist.
To be your most authentic self, you need to incorporate self-care into your daily life. Self-care anchors you in kindness and love, even amidst a whirlwind of stress or trauma. Dr. Kristen Lee Costa, a professor at Northeastern University and stress expert defines self-care as “being aware of a wide range of needs and deliberately taking action to support our own well-being.”
As seasons change and the beginning of another school year is here, most of the conversations I’ve been in lately have been about how busy life gets and how hard it is to keep everything in balance…emotionally, physically, and mentally.
The other night, I was looking at my tree, decorated with the small number of ornaments that are meaningful to my family and me, and thought about how I grew up with a tree full of ornaments, each covering the one behind it. It was one of those moments of clarity for me, watching the tree in the dark of night with the lights sparkling: Less is more. Too many trinkets distract. It’s not about what you get or have. It’s about what you give, and the quality, not quantity behind that sentiment.
By The FIRM Master Instructor Kelly Branning
I am a Libra. Although I don’t read my horoscope, I do identify with those scales that represent my sign. Balance, balance and more balance. It is a daily challenge to keep those scales from tipping over. One side seems overloaded with the things we do for others and the outside world, like family, career, social life and housework. The other side of the scale, including exercise and nutrition, usually threatens to let go at any time.
I think the absolute foundation of a balanced life is good self-care, coupled with good self-awareness. That said … how are you doing? How is your eating? Do you get everything you need from the foods you eat? Hopefully you are eating healthy, life-affirming foods every 3-4 hours. How about exercise? Are you finding a little time to work out and get stronger? If you don’t know how you are doing, let’s take some time to figure it out.
This morning, I witnessed Spring clutching her most radiant bouquet as I walked with her in the company of a new day. I watched the rising sun stretch its rays over the awakening horizon as I hiked up the back of a shady, cool ridge. The soft light crept its way across the city beneath me and slowly made its way up to warm my skin.
I was recently around a parent who was teaching their child discipline. When the child would become disruptive and disobedient, the parent would say, “Do you want a time out?” If the child continued, the parent would say, “All right, if you keep this up, you will take a time out.” The child continued and the parent said, “Okay, that’s it! Time out!” They then made the child sit in a place that they were not allowed to get out of until the parent gave permission. Of course, the child was upset even though they were clearly testing the boundaries.
My life has been in hyper-speed for weeks. It has been exciting and a joyous adventure — about me manifesting a powerful and expansive life.
Earlier this month, we focused on the invisible armor that surrounds areas of our body. Today I’d like to focus on another kind of armor: The kind surrounding the heart.