Making a Resolution VS Broadcasting Your Intention

Reaching for Open Skies and High Peaks

Broadcast Your 2015 Intention

As some of you may know, I gave up making resolutions a few years back because I found the process to be ineffective and even disempowering.  Think about it… when we make resolutions like

  • I’m going to lose X pounds
  • I will exercise 3x week
  • I will eat healthier foods
  • I will quit smoking…

what are our thoughts and statements focusing on?

Answer:  The “bad” thing that we feel guilty about doing or the “good” thing that we feel guilty about NOT doing!  While the intention behind each of these resolutions is an empowering one, the ESSENCE of the resolution is quite the opposite.  How often have you heard (and perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself) people say that they made a resolution but didn’t stick with it?  I’d like to suggest that it’s difficult to stick to something that reminds us of how “bad” we are, or of what is lacking in our lives… it’s simply a downer!

So this year, this idea of “broadcasting my intention” came to me while I was reflecting on my year.  First of all, it’s about creating an intention of purpose (called sankalpa in yoga terms)  for the new year and then choosing language to describe your intention in a way that FEELS empowering and captures the ESSENCE of the intention.

For example, the intention behind all of those previous resolutions was one of better health.  The more empowering language to use to describe this intention could be:

  • I feel strong, flexible and comfortable in my body!
  • I make the best food and fitness choices for my personal well-being!
  • I am committed to feeling good about myself- mind, body and spirit!

Often, I will write down a bunch of words and phrases that come to mind and then sit with them to see which combination of words really represents the essence of what I am after.  It’s also a great way to get clarity on what it is that you really want to experience in the New Year and also create a shift in your persepective so that you view it in a “feel good” way.

My intention for 2015 is to fully experience FREEDOM… financial freedom, creative freedom, freedom from old beliefs and patterns of behavior, freedom to choose exactly what delights my soul and nothing less!  And as I went through my list of phrases that described this essence, I started picturing a tower that was broadcasting these mental and emotional energies (our thoughts and emotions have a frequency, a vibration; thus, they are forms of energy!) out into the Universe… I was broadcasting my intention! 🙂

WOW… did that feel powerful to me!  It helped me to really connect with my sankalpa so that I actually felt it in my body.  And the idea that I was sending it out to be received by the Universe also felt very powerful.  So each morning, I work with this same visualization and I broadcast my intention… In fact, sometimes I do it multiple times throughout the day.  In doing so, I play a powerful and active role in setting the stage for each day and for the entire year.  And as I go through each day, I am more likely to make choices and decisions that align with my New Year Intention.

I invite you to experience and have fun with this process in 2015!  And if you do give it try, I’d LOVE to hear your feedback so comment here by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” link at the top or shoot me an email.  What will YOU be broadcasting out to the world this year?!!  🙂

Tis the Season… For Slowing Down and Self-Care

ACDY_Resting Butterfly_PWPAs the summer season comes to a close, many of us find ourselves naturally slowing down and falling into a more regular routine of school, work, etc. After a busy, hectic, fast-paced summer I welcome the advent of Fall and it’s calmer quieter energies. In fact, the autumnal equinox (day of equal light and dark) symbolizes a return to balance and is a good time to re-commit ourselves to some well-deserved and often needed Self-Care!

** See BELOW for Self-Care opportunities!  Aromatherapy Yoga:  Fall Restoration and Yoga Self-Care for LMTs for continuing education credits **

We’ve all heard the saying… “You can’t take care of someone else if you don’t take care of yourself”… right? But how many of us truly act in that way?

Whether you’re a parent taking care of children or a child taking care of a parent or other family… most people tend to put themselves last. Even from a professional standpoint, how many of us put our work or our businesses before our own well-being?

As a business professional whose work is all about providing care & support to others, I know all too well how challenging this can be! In the past, I have run myself ragged trying to get in those extra clients, or running from one appointment to another without leaving time to have a proper meal, etc..

And we all have our reasons for doing so… economic reasons, social expectations, belief systems, etc… Most likely it’s a combination of these and other factors. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying we shouldn’t take care of others if it’s our responsibility to do so – absolutely we must fulfill our life responsibilities.

But here’s something to think about… how often do we use this as an excuse to NOT take care of ourselves? Believe me, I’ve had to work through my own “martyr complex” and in the end, what I found was that not only did I sacrifice my own well-being, but I also sacrificed the quality of my work and integrity of relationships. Additionally, I set an example that was energetically disempowering for myself AND my clients and family members (whoever it was I was taking care of.)

The effect of this “self-negligence” goes beyond the physical effects… it creates an energetic signature that becomes embedded into our behavior and beliefs. In my case, I would physically feel tired, sore, sick, resentful, etc. But on a deeper energetic level, I was also sending the message that I didn’t care enough about myself and thus “teaching” those I was caring for that it was OK to be this way. And the more I allowed this, the more I reinforced this behavior in myself and (in a very subtle way) in others.

When I finally began to “undo” this habit and focus on choosing to take excellent care of myself, I felt a major shift in my work as well as my relationships! From a professional standpoint, I made sure that I scheduled my clients in such a way that I was able to feel GREAT (not just OK) when I worked with each one of them. It made my work more effective, comfortable and enjoyable for both of us on all levels!

And isn’t that the type of experience we want and deserve, whether it’s from our family or from our professionals? But how can we expect it from others if we don’t implement it ourselves? If we don’t take actions to be caring and nurturing to ourselves, we send an energetic message to the world that we don’t want or expect that from others as well.

There’s a wonderful piece called the “The Real Woman Creed”[although is it CERTAINLY applicable to men as well!!!] that we read in one of the women’s group in which I participate… here is a great line from that:

I believe that a woman [ or man ] who loves herself [ himself ] is a powerful, passionate, attractive force, and I commit, from this day forward, to loving myself deeply and extravagantly.”

So as you slow down this month, I invite you to reflect on your own Self-Care choices… how do you take EXQUISITE care of yourself?

And if you find your answer to be lacking, I hope that you will join me this month to re-commit to this very important task. And even if you take excellent care of yourself, please join me anyway, and we can share in loving ourselves “deeply and extravagantly!” 🙂

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Sept 20 & 28th: Aromatherapy Yoga – Fall Restoration workshop.  Contact Sheetal or visit West End Yoga Allentown or Living Room Yoga Emmaus for more information.

Sept 29th:  Yoga Self-Care for LMTs (licensed massage therapists)  All-day workshop for 6 CECs.  Contact Sheetal or visit Sage Continuing Education for more information.

 

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Stop and Smell the Pine!

Here’s your friendly reminder to allow yourself to fully ENJOY the experiences of this season and NOT get caught up in the “holiday hub bub”.

The energy of the season can be full of distraction and overwhelm.  I find that the key to staying present and focused amidst this chaotic and sometimes challenging time is to PAUSE and BREATHE!  I do these “Daily Breathers” several times throughout the day as needed.

Every time I notice my mind wandering and being pummeled by way too many thoughts, I simply…

  • become aware and stop what I’m doing (or thinking of)
  • close my eyes (if my environment allows it) or focus on a specific point/object (if I cannot close my eyes at that time) and
  • take 3 DEEP, SOOTHING BREATHS.

As I’m taking these breaths, I make a point to really FEEL the breath moving in and out of my body.  This very basic, simple exercise of mindful breathing is very grounding and will bring you calm and greater focus.  Like anything, the more “Daily Breathers” you take the easier it gets and the more effective they become!

And in case you need a helping hand with this I’m sharing with you a 4-minute Mindful Breathing Meditation audio for you to follow:

Mindful Breathing Meditation

Some of you may have received this meditation from me before, but I’m re-posting it as it’s short and sweet and does the trick.  You can even save the link in your Favorites on your web browser to use it regularly!

During this time of year, it can be easy to forget our most basic yet powerful tool:  our BREATH!

Make good use of it so that as you are getting presents…. you’re also getting present! 🙂

HAPPY HOLIDAYS… AND ENJOY!

 

Remake Yourself…

As human beings, our greatness lays not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.   ~Mahatma Ghandi

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What a thought-provoking and powerful statement!  I think it’s especially applicable in today’s world where so much change and so many challenges are presenting themselves.

It can feel overwhelming sometimes when we are bombarded by so much negativity and tragedy in our (so-called) news, politics, and current events.  Even if you want to help bring about a positive change, you may ask yourself, “Where do I begin??!!”

Exactly where Ghandi has directed us… with ourselves!  Instead of getting bogged down and worrying about things outside of us that are beyond our control… if we focus our intentions on how we can help ourselves feel healthier and think better… we can each as individuals make a positive impact not only on our own beings… but on our families, communities and our world!

The only things we have complete control over are our own thoughts, intentions and actions.  If we each commit to improving and elevating our own well-being — that is how we feel physically, how we think and how we interact with others  — we initiate our own little ripple effect.  When you start feeling better in your body, thinking with more clarity and calm, managing your emotions and stress with ease… you indirectly affect others by example and energetic interaction.

We’ve all experienced something of what I’m describing before… If you’re in a room full of people and someone who is carrying a lot of negativity walks in, everyone feels it.  It drags everyone else down as well.  But if someone who is uplifting comes into the room, it elevates everyone in the room.

Now imagine if you are working to feel the best that you can each day… Your positive ripple effect collides with my ripple effect which collides with someone else’s… get the picture?!  And soon… the similar positive energies converge to effect larger and larger populations over longer periods of time… this is how movements are started!

If you are tired of feeling like a victim or a bystander… if you want to be a participant in something positive, then I challenge you to commit to yourself and your own well-being!!!  If necessary, start with small simple steps that only require 10 – 15 minutes every day.  For example:

–        take a walk outdoors

–        read something inspirational or educational

–        spend time by yourself to journal or reflect

–        take multiple “Daily Breathers” (just pause from what you are doing and take 3- 5 deep, slow breaths)!

The key is to take some action for YOURSELF every day! And if you are ready to learn even more powerful self-care techniques or just need some support and motivation, come talk to me… I would love the opportunity to help you!

Here’s to remaking ourselves…

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To learn more about yoga self-care and personal wellness programs, visit www.anyonecandoyoga.com… download chapters of my complimentary E-Book on the Home page, check out my 3-Part “Yoga Essentials” DVD set from the Shop or simply contact me.

It’s Time to Take Charge!

Let’s talk healthcare…. But not healthcare as you hear about it in our media and politics (in my opinion, that debate is about medical care, NOT true healthcare!)  I’ll begin by asking you a simple question:  Do you feel “in charge” of your health?

I ask this, because I find more and more people have the impression that something or someone outside of themselves (a medical doctor, a surgeon, a therapist, etc.) is going to “fix them”.  We as a society have relinquished our responsibility for our own health.

Being a massage therapist as well as yoga instructor/coach, I frequently hear clients say things like “I want you to fix my back” or “Can you fix my neck?”  To these type of questions, I usually reply, “I don’t fix anything…. YOU do your own healing.  I’m here to facilitate and support you in that process.”  That’s what all healthcare and medical care professionals are here to do.

And don’t misunderstand me… when I speak of us healing ourselves, I’m not talking about some “voodoo”.  I am talking about each individual taking responsibility to take the committed actions necessary to be healthy.   And depending on what you are dealing with, that may require having surgery or some specific treatment.  However, how healthy we get or feel goes beyond a surgery or treatment – these are things that come after–the-fact.  I’m speaking more about healing and taking care of ourselves in a preventative way.

I guess my point is that we must take back our power when it comes to how we feel – feeling and BEING healthy in mind, body and spirit comes from our own committed effort to feel GREAT each and every day.  It comes from inside of us when we choose to take daily actions to

  • eat well through nutritious foods
  • move well through physical activity that suits our bodies and
  • think well by keeping an empowered mindset.

Unfortunately, many of us lack the proper knowledge to do one or more of these things.  In my own experience, I felt I wasn’t eating well enough despite the fact that most people would consider my diet to be a healthful one.  I have been learning more and more about the kinds of foods that work best for me – that I can best digest and give me the most energy.  So I’m re-training my body to eat differently.

Similarly, many of us lack the knowledge of how to “move” in ways that suit us best and “think” in ways that are empowering.  Now in these areas, I do have some knowledge and experience! 🙂  Yoga has so many practical techniques to offer us when it comes to learning how to “move well” and “think well”.

To that end, I’ve developed a new workshop called The “ABC”s of Yoga Self-Care.  In this workshop, my intent is to not only teach yoga techniques but to advise on how to practically apply them to our daily lives.  In doing so, we begin to create better habits of moving well and thinking well… we begin to take daily actions to feel good in body and mind… and we begin to reclaim our power for creating our own good health.

So if you answered my question at the beginning with anything but a resounding “YES”… I invite you to contact me and learn more about how to TAKE CHARGE of YOUR HEALTH!

Got Tension?

Maybe the better question to ask is “Who DOESN’T have tension?!”  For the majority of us, experiencing a certain level of mental and physical tension has become commonplace.

In this context, tension can be defined as:

1.  A strained state or condition resulting from forces acting in opposition to each other

2.  Mental or emotional strain; stress

Thus we can experience tension physically when parts of our bodies feel strained or opposed.  When we have repetitive or “stuck” thoughts and feelings, we also experience mental and/or emotional tension.

Yoga is an excellent way to address all forms of tension.  Through a consistent yoga practice, we not only train our minds and bodies to release the tensions, but we also attempt to discover their sources.

How does yoga teach us this?  In my therapeutic yoga approach, there are 4 key components to relieving the body and mind of stress and tension:

1.    Awareness

2.    Breathing

3.    Patience

4.    Surrender

It all begins with awareness!  Many of you who have taken my workshops/classes before know that this is the first thing I always teach.  Sometimes, we aren’t even aware of the tensions we hold because we’ve gotten so used to them!

For example, do you find yourself crinkling your forehead when you think?  Does squeezing the muscles of your forehead somehow make you think more clearly?  NOT!

How about when the temperature in the room suddenly drops… Do you find yourself shrugging and lifting your shoulders?  Does this action bring you warmth?  NO!

And most of the time we aren’t even aware when we do these things because we are so conditioned to them.  So first of all, we must become aware… we must observe our minds and bodies and ask ourselves, “Where are our holding patterns?”  It is this type of introspective observation that can also help us to “undo” our conditioned responses.

Once we become aware of the areas we hold our tensions, we begin to breathe into those areas.  I know what you’re thinking, “Sheetal, how the heck do I breathe into a part of my body?”

Its actually quite simple… just imagine it!  As you stay aware of your area of tension, imagine your breath flowing into that area… slowly and gently soothing the area and causing the tension to dissipate.  This is a simple form of visualization that can be surprisingly powerful.

The 3rd key, which for many people is the most difficult, is to be patient with yourself!  Only when we give ourselves the patient time to feel supported and safe will our bodies respond.  It’s like wanting to come to a gradual stop while driving a car, but we keep giving it gas.  If we don’t let the foot off the pedal how can we expect the car to naturally slow down?!

Similarly, we must take the time to stop “fueling” our bodies and minds and instead let them come to a gradual halt where they can then unwind or do whatever needs to happen.

Finally, the last key is to surrender.  Just allow yourself to let go.  Sometimes, even when practicing first 3 keys we fail to completely release certain tensions because we are unwilling to give them up.  I know it sounds strange but it goes back to the idea of our minds and bodies being conditioned to respond in certain ways.

“Muscle memory” may sometimes be so engrained into our beings…. or certain thought patterns may be so woven into our psyches that we must willingly and conscientiously surrender them in order to truly release the tension we hold.

And while all of this may seen logical or at least easy enough to understand, it’s the “doing” that is the tricky part!  Like anything, these techniques to releasing tension take practice.  But, believe me, they are well worth the effort.  In fact, I’ll be so bold as to say that the Keys to Releasing Tension are the also keys to proactively staying healthy!

So I invite you to join me in June to learn AND practice these techniques.  Check the Calendar for dates/times/locations in Eastern PA.  And at the end of the workshop when I ask you “Got Tension?”…. you may just be surprised by your answer!

I’ll take some Yin with that Yang Please!

Most of us would recognize the above symbol to represent the Chinese Taoist concept of Yin/Yang.  In Taoist philosophy, as well as Chinese medicine, these terms are used to describe all aspects of our world.

Yin and Yang are relative descriptors that beautifully depict how complimentary opposites co-exist in nature to create perfect balance.

To give you an idea of their meaning, each can be characterized as follows:

Yin                               Yang

Hidden                          Exposed

Dark                             Light

Cold                              Hot

Moon                             Sun

Still                               Moving

Downward                     Upward

Calm                             Excited

Female                             Male

In the yoga tradition, the Sanskrit word hatha (as in Hatha Yoga), is defined as sun (“ha”) and moon (“tha”).  The principles and practice of Hatha Yoga is one that aims to bring balance to the opposing aspects of our being – lunar and solar, female and male and yes…. yin and yang.

I am fascinated by how these ancient philosophies are analogous in their approach to life.  As I continue to study these concepts of Yin and Yang, it becomes more and more evident to me that our current day lifestyles are greatly skewed toward Yang.

In my opinion, most of us could all use some more Yin experiences to balance out the plethora of Yang activities in our lives!  Take a moment and think about your daily activities…. would you describe most of your activities to be more Yin-like or Yang-like?  Technically, these are relative terms that should be used in a specific context… so I ask you to allow me some leeway to make a point.

My intention is to have you develop a “feel” for your daily life.  How many activities excite your emotions versus calm your nerves?  How many feel hectic and rushed versus patient and slow?  How many are active and result-focused rather than passive and experience-oriented?

I think the majority of people now-a-days would say that their scale tips to the Yang side a bit more!  So how do we bring more balance into our lives when everything around us – the societal energy around us – pushes us to be more Yang-like?

First, we must begin to identify and recognize what types of things may be tipping our scales – and of course, this will be different to everyone based on their own unique set of circumstances.

Then, allow me to suggest some “baby steps” for introducing more Yin-like experiences each day:

1.    Take yourself out off the “Noise” for 15-30 minutes each day.  Whatever your environment – the workplace or home – find a way to remove yourself for a brief time.  Take a quiet walk at lunch (now that spring is approaching!), take a power-nap (and DON’T feel guilty about it!), or even have lunch by yourself and enjoy the time alone.

2.    Simply eat during meals.  Instead of watching the TV, reading, surfing the web or texting while your eating, just EAT!  Really be present with your food – savor it and see if you can identify its flavors.  You’ll not only enjoy your food more, but you’ll become more aware of how much you are eating and when you are really full.

3.    “Get off the Grid” at a certain time each day.  We don’t need to be connected to the world (at least in a technology context!) 24/7.  Stay away from your computer and turn off your cell phones at a certain time each day.

4.    Take “Breathing Breaks”.  When you feel things speeding up with the potential to get “crazy”, pause and take 5-10 deep breaths.  You can even set an alert on your cell phone or computer (during your designated grid time of course 🙂 ) to remind you about these breaks.  It may sound silly… but whatever works!

5.    Incorporate more passive forms of physical activity into your workouts.  Balance the vigorous aerobic and strengthening routines with passive, focused stretching.  Or add experience-oriented practices like qi-gong, tai chi, or hatha, yin and therapeutic yoga approaches to your athletic regimen.  Giving equal time to these passive practices will actually improve your more active workouts.

Of course, these are just some simple, general suggestions and you may find many others that are more suitable to your specific situation.  And certainly, I am not suggesting that Yin experiences are better or more desirable than Yang experiences.  We need both… but we need both in equal proportions.

My point is to have you notice how the Yin and Yang forces are at play in your life…. Do they feel as if they co-exist harmoniously feeding one-another?  Or do they feel “out of whack” with one dominating over the other?  And then ask yourself if you couldn’t use a little Yin with that Yang?  🙂

Empower Your Self with Self-Care!

To bring the instrument to its natural state of wholeness, regular care and maintenance are ideal.  The body speaks to us through sensation, not necessarily words; so as we listen to what is tight and where there is stress, we can begin to use the tools of self-care.  Through a practice like yoga, we begin to follow what we need in each moment to feel good in our body. – Cheri Clampett, “The Therapeutic Yoga Kit

I am very excited and fortunate to be participating in a Therapeutic Yoga training with Cheri Clampett in a few weeks!  This quote from her book “The Therapeutic Yoga Kit” nicely describes our bodies as instruments needing regular maintenance and care.

Now this may seem really obvious… “Duh Sheetal, of course we need to take care of our bodies!”  But my question back to you is “To what extent do we do this and more so… do we even have the proper skills for self-care?!”

For many of us, I would argue, “NO”.  And I would also add that the reason we don’t have self-care skills is because in our modern western world, we are not taught these skills.  We are taught to eat well and exercise (whether we practice this as a society is a different story!)… but we’re not taught how to TRULY, DEEPLY and CONSCIENTIOUSLY rest and recover!

And I qualify rest with the words “TRULY & DEEPLY” because I am not referring to simply plopping on the couch and ‘zoning’ in front of the TV!  😉  And I use CONSCIENTIOUSLY to point out that I’m not talking about the rest we get when we sleep.

What I am referring to is the ability to still our bodies and minds in a way that allows us to listen and become aware of what the body needs in any given moment.  It is in that place of quiet, patient awareness that the body’s “relaxation response” kicks in and true healing occurs to counteract the daily stresses we encounter.

Be honest with yourself… what do you do in your daily life to give yourself this level of self-care?  Do you feel you have the knowledge to do what you need to do to feel better, healthier?

I’m not posing these questions to you to make you feel bad about yourself or point out deficiencies…  my intention is to first, make you stop and think!  And second, to suggest that it’s never to late to learn self-care skills!

And this is exactly why I have fine-tuned my own practice and teachings to the therapeutic yoga approach.  What I find empowering about therapeutic yoga is that its tools & techniques are gentle, supportive and non-aggressive.  They include things like:

– meditation & visualization

– breathing exercises

– supported yoga poses

– intentional movement

– self-massage.

These practices can be easily applied to rehabilitative situations and chronic conditions as well as for simple, everyday “maintenance”.

Just to give you a taste of a simple deep breathing and meditation technique, I’ve included below an audio for you to follow.  In just this quick technique, we are practicing deep breathing, maintaining awareness in the moment and quieting the body and mind.  All important things for inducing the relaxation response.

Try it out and let me know what you think!  Post your questions or thoughts regarding therapeutic yoga – I’d love to hear from you!

Breathing Meditation

And if you are in the Eastern PA area and want to experience therapeutic yoga, check out my website calendar for my monthly workshops – February’s focus: ‘Relieving Low Back Pain/Tension’.

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