It's hard to be disciplined sometimes. The road to good health, inner peace and enlightenment has many road blocks. Work, family, daily stresses, and relationships can pull us away from our focus. It's so hard to balance it all.
I wish I was one of those yogis who has been practicing daily for 15 years, eating perfectly and meditating for an hour a day. But I think I know myself better than that. I'm not sure if I will ever be that yogi. Call it a touch of ADD, or what-have-you, but I live balanced in two worlds. Part of me wants all of that... focus, discipline, self-enlightenment, to reach the impossible yoga poses. That is something I aspire to be. The other part of me is a little more wild. "That" side likes to go out and have fun and listen to loud music and dance and live in the now. Yup, I like a good party and I like to get my drink on. And I'm not talking about green tea.
It wasn't always this way for me. In fact I took a long hiatus from the party scene to be a married mom of two. Now at 40, I find myself in the midst of a divorce. It has it's stressful moments for sure and going out to blow off some steam seems to be just what the doctor ordered. Undoubtedly, I am having lots of fun as well.
If only there was a way to balance it all. It is not easy to find the motivation on a Sunday to roll out my yoga mat when Saturday evening I was out until 3 am doing shots of... I don't know... something red. And certainly it's hard to meditate when my head feels like it's affectionately being squeezed in a vice grip.
You know what I mean. Maybe for you it's not a few cocktails, maybe it's chocolate cake or smoking or laziness or Ben and Jerry's. We all have things that pull us off our track a bit. No one is perfect 100% of the time.
So, like you, I do what I can. Perfection is never my goal. Life has changed for me and I'm doing what feels good right now. And it does feel good. But maybe it's time to reel it in a bit....
With yoga and meditation I sometimes find myself getting distracted, bored even with my practice and need take a break or switch to a different form of exercise for awhile. But when I'm "in", when I'm focused and regularly rolling out my yoga mat and meditating... I feel my best.
And I want to feel my best! I don't want to go out and party like I'm a 21 year old rock star anymore! Okay, that's not true... I still want to do that, occasionally. Just not a few times every week. I am not 21 anymore and I'm okay with that. I have nothing to prove to the twenty-some-thing's out there. Been there, done that (for way too long, I might add). I'm fun, I know it and that's all that matters to me.
It's time to refocus. I need to think about the "me" I want to be. Is she a party girl? Hell to the yes she is. But, she's also a yogi and spiritual and loves inner reflection and Wayne Dyer books and green tea and inner peace. I'm proud of that side of me. Heck, I'm proud of both sides of me! I'm in a period of transition right now though and I am going to cut myself some slack. I'm metamorphosing. And I know, in my heart, that I'll find the perfect path for me, once again.
I held my 20 month old in my arms last night. She has a little stomach bug that has left her hurting and she was crying ferociously until she leaned back in my arms. She looked up at me with those big, beautiful hazel eyes and I could feel her body finally relax as she began to drink her bottle.
I melted. These are the moments. They're nothing big... and yet they're huge. My little chubby pumpkin will be a big girl before I know it and I just want to drink in every precious baby moment. She's perfect and I'm feeling very blessed. Life is good.
What we need to be happy is a question we often forget to ask ourselves.
Is there something you could do for yourself that would make you happy, put a spring in your step, a smile in your heart?
Many of us haven't asked ourselves this question enough. Some of us haven't asked it at all. Or if we have, we haven't answered it. Instead we diligently search for our path, for the way through our current situation or circumstance, never taking time to ask ourselves what would make us happy and what would feel good to us.
Then we wonder why life feels so hard, so difficult and unrewarding.
Discovering what would make us happy can help us through any difficulty in life. It can help us through the quieter moments of our day. It can help us make larger, more significant decisions. It can help us in our work. Especially if we look in our hearts and answer honestly.
What would make you happy? It's a simple question, but one with profound consequences. Asking and answering that question, then acting on it, is often our path- a path that will lead to the next step, a path that is in our best interest. We will be choosing our destiny. And the destiny we're choosing is joy.
What would make you happy? Ask
yourself often. Think about your answer.
You may well find that the answer is within reach.
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the
violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for
about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was
calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on
their way to work. ...
Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician
playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then
hurried up to meet his schedule.
A minute later, the violinist
received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and
without stopping, and continued to walk.
A few minutes later,
someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at
his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother
tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist.
Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk,
turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other
children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed
for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their
normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took
over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua
Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just
played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth
$3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro
station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social
experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The
outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do
we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the
talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best
musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many
other things are we missing?
If you are like most moms, you are stressed out, cranky from your
child's never ending temper tantrums and exhausted from cleaning up your
kids Legos. Take a deep breath and say Om. Repeat. Yoga is the perfect mental escape for mamas!
Yoga can become a stress-reducing lifestyle
Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years -- but it was only until
recently, when celebrities like Jennifer Aniston professed her love for
yoga, did it become more main stream.
There are many health benefits associated with yoga, including
everything from reducing stress and lowering blood pressure to sounder
sleep and better fitness. However, many shy away from actually
practicing yoga. You may feel you are not flexible enough to be able to
do the poses or you don't want to make a fool out of yourself in front
of others. The good news is that yoga is a lot more than asanas or
poses. You can follow a yogic lifestyle without having to ever take a
Amy Witmyer, a yoga practitioner for over 11 years who runs her own
yoga studio Sacred Space Yoga and Wellness in West Orange, New Jersey,
explains that mothers tend to put the needs of their children and family
before their own needs. She says, "I remind my clients, most who are
moms, that if the mental body is out of balance, then the physical body
will be out of balance as well." Yoga and meditation can help a mom
Three yoga tools to implement immediately
Since your schedule is typically jam-packed and making time for a
yoga class can cause more stress than it's worth, Witmyer suggests these
yoga tools that busy moms can implement conveniently and immediately: Deep Breathing: Most of the breaths that the
majority of people take throughout the day are quick, shallow breaths.
Pranayama, or breath control, is one of the five principles in yoga.
When you take the time to focus on your breath, you cannot help but
become present in the moment. One easy technique is to take a full
breath through your nose, hold it for a count of three, and then release
through your nose. Repeat three more times. Music: Most everyone has heard the adage, "Music
calms the savage beast." The same can be said for moms and children as
well! There are many different types of yoga music, which is often
called new age, as well as chanting or crystal bowls. Simply having
calming music in the background, or flicking it on before a temper
tantrum strikes, can help save the day. Yoga moves: The great thing about these yoga poses is that you can do them with your children (click pose for illustration).
or leg up the wall pose can help calm the mind and ease anxiety. Plus,
you can easily read a book to your child during the pose.
Balasana or child's pose is another instant relaxing and calming pose.
or corpse pose is one of the most basic yoga moves. Your child (or
maybe even you) can be tempted to fall asleep while practicing it.
As a mom, you are your children's first role model. By taking the
time to slow down and relax, you are providing your children with
necessary tools to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Light a
candle, dim the lights and invite your child to lay on the floor with
you! Say Om. Repeat.
While I want to keep an open heart, I also need to remind myself to set my own boundaries. I'm not looking to put up a wall, or to try and control or confine others with my boundaries, but rather to set guidelines for my own heart that are necessary for my own personal fulfillment.
When we enter into relationships with others, everyone is initially on their best behavior. Slowly, our true selves start to emerge. Sometimes we like the things we see in the other person and sometimes we don't. Setting boundaries is a way to say "Hey, I can accept this, that and the other thing, but THAT, no thank you, that's not acceptable to me." And that's okay. That's healthy. Our inner voice lets us know when something is not sitting right with us. You have to be true to that voice. You can't expect behavior from others that you wouldn't adhere to yourself. If you find someone who wants to discuss it, work on it and figure a way around it... you now have a relationship. If you find someone who views your boundaries as a way of boxing them in, then you need to take another look at that relationship.
Sometimes the boundaries you set are met with resistance by others. Perhaps one person wants to set all the boundaries themselves and is not considering your own feelings and beliefs. That's not a relationship. Relationships are give and take. There has to be some compromise on both sides to have a working, functional, healthy partnership. It's easy to see your own point of view and much harder to reverse the roles in your head and imagine becoming the recipient of the behavior or belief. Think about it. Would I accept this kind of behavior? Would I like it if it was done to me? Chances are, you wouldn't, but sometimes we get caught up in "being right" instead of truly listening.
As a woman, and a nice one at that (if I do say so myself), sometimes I find it hard to speak up for myself. It's even harder to speak up when someone seems more "powerful" than myself. I can sometimes be shy or a little reserved and I am drawn to my natural opposites. I like loud, tell-it-like-it-is, no fear, I am who I am kind of people around me (I love these folks). But I have to speak up sometimes when my needs are not being met. My inner voice wont rest until it's heard. I know where I can compromise and where I'm not willing to. I know what I give in a relationship and I expect at least something similar to that. I'm not looking to get perfection, but some kind of balance. One person can't set the pace, the tone, the rules and define all of their needs without expecting any input from the other. That doesn't work. My inner voice keeps screaming to be heard and I have to let it out. If I don't, I am not being true to me.
Be true to yourself but be open to the boundaries set by others. Sometimes you can meet in the middle. Sometimes you can't. Only your heart can tell you what it needs. Listen to it...
From reading the celebrity rags, you may think that detox
is something you do by either checking into a cushy rehabilitation
facility or consuming nothing but liquids for 21 days. It seems either
overly arduous or something only the rich and idle have time to do. But
your body is designed to engage in detoxification every day. And one way to help it along is with a detox yoga practice.
How detoxification works
There are three main systems of the body that play a crucial role in the elimination of wastes — circulatory, digestive and lymph. The circulatory system
pumps blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen to and carrying
waste products away from cells. The digestive system processes the food
we eat, separating nutrients from waste and eliminating anything the
body doesn’t need. And the lymphatic system collects intracellular fluid
from throughout the body and transports it to the lymph nodes where
anything harmful (such as bacteria or other contaminants) can be removed
before the lymphatic fluid is returned to the bloodstream.
robust system that works well on its own. But in order to help your
body keep up with the heavy demands our stressful lives and
nutrient-poor modern diet place on these systems, the trick is to give
your body an assist so it can perform its natural detoxing function. And
yoga is an ideal companion.
How detox yoga facilitates cleansing
forms of vigorous exercise stimulate all three systems of elimination
to some extent, thereby helping the body in its quest to cleanse and
detox. But yoga,
with its focus on systematically stretching and compressing every part
of the body, is particularly well-suited to keeping the waste-removal
departments of the body functioning well.
“In a well-rounded yoga
practice, every part of the body is pushed, pulled, twisted, turned and
upended,” explains New York City yoga teacher Witold Fitz-Simon, founder
of the yogaartandscience.com blog.
"This facilitates the removal of waste products such as carbon dioxide,
lactic acid and lymphatic fluid from the deep tissues and extremities
of the body that a jog or a bike ride just don’t reach."
Yogic breathing also plays an important role in promoting detoxification. “We have as many bad habits in breathing
as we do in every other area of our lives,” Fitz-Simon explains.
Sitting with poor posture impedes the lungs from inflating fully, and
our chronic state of low-grade stress often leads to a clenched
diaphragm—the parachute-shaped muscle at the bottom of the rib cage that
assists in breathing. As a result, we don’t take in as much
life-sustaining oxygen when we inhale, or expel as much of the
potentially hazardous carbon dioxide when we exhale.
helps clear out carbon dioxide from the lung tissue, stimulates the
organs of digestion and can, over time, retrain the diaphragm to move
freely,” Fitz-Simon says. And when the diaphragm
moves with its natural fluidity, the abdominal organs are massaged and
the lungs are fully emptied with every breath — not just the ones you
take on the yoga mat.
Clear mind, clear body
In addition to its physical benefits, yoga aids in mental detox as well. “When we’re in a state of stress, fear or depression, that attitude creates a sensation in the body,” explains Patricia Moreno, founder of the intenSati workout.
“Doing yoga helps purge toxic thoughts by teaching you to move your
awareness away from the chaos of the mind and back to the present
moment. That practice is not a basic component of other fitness
As a result, a regular yoga practice
helps you eliminate the tangible and intangible toxins that could
otherwise keep you from feeling your best. Here are three poses that are
particularly suited to aiding detoxification or to help you kick off a
natural body cleanse.
Detox benefits: Squeezes the abdominal organs and stimulates digestion and elimination.
up tall with your legs straight. Bend your right knee and bring the
sole of your right foot to the floor just in front of your right sitting
bone. Rest your right hand on the floor behind your back for support.
your left hand up so strongly that your ribcage lifts up. Rotate your
torso to the right and bring your left elbow to the outside of your
right knee. Stay for 5 deep breaths, gradually and gently using the
sensation of your left elbow pressing into to your right leg to
encourage your torso to twist further to the right.
behind you, over your right shoulder or straight ahead, depending on
what feels best to your neck. Repeat on the other side.
Getting the heart higher than the head reverses the pull of gravity and
aids in the circulation of blood and lymph. Also gently tones the
abdomen, which stimulates digestion. Watch our how-to video on Downward Dog or follow these instructions: Start
on your hands and knees with the entire surface of your palms pressing
into the floor and your toes tucked under. Slowly lift the knees and
straighten the legs. Press equally into the hands and feet and lift your
sitting bones up as you move the thighs back. Allow the head to hang.
Stay for 5–10 deep breaths.
Legs Up the Wall
Detox benefits:Encourages circulation of blood and lymph from the feet and legs.
Bathes the abdomen in fresh blood, stimulating the digestive organs.
Soothes the nervous system, allowing your body to shift its attention
from warding off stress to daily bodily functions, including detox. Watch our how-to video on Legs Up the Wall Pose or follow these instructions:
Sit in front of a wall with your right hip and shoulder touching the
wall. Bend your knees and roll onto your left side, so your feet and
seat are touching the wall. Roll onto your back and extend your legs so
that they rest on the wall. Either rest your hands on your belly or let
your arms lie on the floor, palms up. Stay for at least 10 deep breaths.
is a freelance writer who specializes in exploring the mind-body
connection. She completed her yoga teacher training at OM Yoga in New
York City and has studied with yoga experts Rodney Yee and Cyndi Lee and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg.