Thinking about Thanksgiving prompted me to write this blog. I saved it to my computer, planning to post it online as soon as I got a chance. Then coincidentally I heard a radio interview with psychologist Robert Emmons, author of a book called Thanks. Emmons has spent years studying positive psychology, and in the interview he pointed out that gratitude is more than a tool for self-improvement. “Gratitude is a way of life,” he said, noting how being grateful can improve your health physically as well as mentally.
Autumn has arrived, and with it, I always feel the need to turn within to find balance between the lightness I felt during the warm summer days and the sudden desire to stay cozy and warm inside, as the temperatures cool outside.
Watching leaves float to the ground is a reminder that our lives are a mirror of nature’s cycles and that everything is in a state of impermanence. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that no longer serve us.
The yoga practice is a glorious dance of the physical possibilities in the human body. An advanced practice can take your breath away as easily as it can expand your ujjayi. It can twist and turn in directions that make an artist quiver with creative jealousy and inspire even the heaviest of sloths to entertain a change of mind.
That being said — it can also be intimidating as hell.
I learned, trained, teach and practice in Santa Monica, California. It is the mecca of yoga these days and the cream of the crop when it comes to beautiful practices. It’s hard to find a level 2-3 class that doesn’t have at least one yogi soaring through the air in-between asanas or adding what appears to be a level-X variation to every pose. It can often be inspiring and mind-blowing but it can also be, in a word, daunting.
Several months ago, I began working on the development of some new products. As I began to contemplate a name that would encompass the product line, the words “Affirmative Living” came to me. I was really excited, so I shared the concept with my mastermind group. A couple of the people in the group didn’t understand what the phrase meant and asked me to rethink my concept.
Can you believe it? We’re already halfway into February! I have been getting calls for counseling requests around relationships; Valentine woes and deep feelings of aloneness. I even got a Facebook message from a man challenged with his life choices and loss of love. I am very clear that every person on this planet wants to love and be loved. We all want to feel special, be seen and acknowledged for the beautiful beings that we are. So why is it so hard to “find” love?
The holiday season is upon us, with many of our thoughts turning to food. The popular adage “you are what you eat” is literally true, according to new research that claims a person’s diet has a profound influence on their brain function and overall health.
Just as our eating style reflects and affects who we are, I believe how and where we live reflect ‘us’ even more. Our homes are intimate expressions of ourselves. Similar to the correlation between poor diet and disease, living in a toxic environment — in any sense, physical or emotional — also impacts our health in a negative way. Luckily, the opposite is also true. By creating an environment that supports our well-being, health and happiness, our bodies and minds will respond in positive ways.
The holiday season inundates us with recipes galore (as well as stress and temptations to overindulge). To balance that, choose an ingredient (or two, or three!) from my “healthy-self’ holiday recipe below, and treat yourself to a generous helping of grounding — whatever that means to you.
There is a quote that sums up my experience heretofore with yoga better than anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t know from whom or where the quote came, or I would totally give the person mega props and a huge, bear-like, electronic hug. The quote goes a little something like this:
“My yoga practice is no longer the battlefield of a long-waged self-improvement project by an overachieving person. It has become what I always hoped it would be — a place for love and acceptance.”
I think this quote embraces the yoga journey for many of us, because let’s be real here: How many of us started yoga because we wanted a thinner waist and perky yoga butt? How many of us, in the beginning, saw yoga as something we would conquer rather than embrace? How many of us saw someone in Crow Pose and said to ourselves, “I can do that shit.”
Over time, however, as we dove deeper into our practice — no doubt bumbling, grunting and falling along the way — our hardened layers begin to peel away, and we were left with the lingering feeling that yoga is something more than a way for us to gain strength, flexibility and balance. As we emerged from Savasana, time and time again, we began to realize that something else — something besides exercise — is going on here.
Dear Arielle & Brian,
I am 46 years old and am working on manifesting in my life my ideal soulmate. I know others who have found love through dating Web sites, but I’ve chosen to work on the Law of Attraction, which I discovered last year. I’m very clear about what I’m looking for in a woman. My biggest deficit is I’ve yet to experience a romantic relationship in my life. I’ve been working doing the suggested “feelingizations” and creating space. Yet I really don’t know how to start taking action or what I can do to manifest that special woman.
I’m a 43-year-old Romeo. Seriously. At the ripe, sweet age of 43, I’m playing the star-crossed lover in the Shakespeare classic. It was a surprise to me when the director casting this production asked me to play young Romeo. When I stop to think about it, it cracks me up. I mean, this character typically is seen as a horny, brash teenager on the brink of becoming a man and discovering true love.
Ah, true love! It’s a common enough phrase and yet I do believe it’s not actually all that common in our world.
Love is one of the most powerful forces on Earth. Unfortunately, I find that women who are most critical of their bodies are missing a degree of self-love. Do you find yourself looking in the mirror and having negative thoughts about certain parts of your body? Do you find yourself saying things like, “If only my thighs were slimmer,” or “I wish my butt wasn’t so flat”?
When I teach my fitness classes, I often invite my students to do some of the exercises with their eyes closed in order to really feel the movement. On a neuromuscular level, training the body while creating positive thoughts and making that positive connection is scientifically proven to be one of the most powerful ways to create and reinforce a positive body image. And, on a non-scientific level, it just feels good!