Monday, December 31, 2012

A Blank Canvas Meditation

The new year presents an opportunity for you to look at the path ahead as a blank canvas. You may find life's events clear your path to create on other days throughout the year too. This meditation helps you tap into your inner knowing or creative voice removing the influence of ego.  Ego is often driven by fear, greed or negativity.  Honoring My Spirit and Recognizing My Ego shares how to differentiate the two.

Feel free to read the meditation shared below or listen on YouTube.

Find a comfortable position that you may relax in.  It may be seated or lying down.  In whatever position you choose, reduce the external stimuli by closing your eyes.  Begin to follow your breath as it moves in and out.  Release any thoughts, worries, concerns or to dos with your exhale.  Breathing in and out, soften your body.

Using your mind's eye, imagine looking out the window to see a beautiful, wintry scene.  The snow is falling,  slowly blanketing the Earth.  White snow resting softly on the brown tree branches.  The ground cleansed by the thick layer of snow.  Your eyes delight in the vast space covered in white.  A blank canvas lay before you.

As you continue to take the breath deep into your body and completely release it, become aware of the voice within.  It may be quiet, soft or loud.  It may not be heard but felt instead.  Your inner voice may need time to come out and or share.  As you rest your attention within, you may find it comforting to place a hand on your heart.  Your breath freely flows.

A blank canvas lay before you, what do you wish to create this day or in the coming days/year?  Listen.  Don't be concerned with answering but rather listen to what comes up.  What is your spirit's priority?  Listen.

Rest in this listening space for... you'll know when it's time to stop.  Your inner voice will tell you.  Be kind as you come back to your space.  Gently move your body.

I encourage you to jot down notes from your experience.  Don't worry if nothing came up.  Your willingness to listen may open the door for your voice to speak to you throughout this day.  You may even try this meditation again at later time.

May your creation be inspired by grace and guided by love.  Namaste

Thursday, December 27, 2012


It seems the media has taken hold of the New Year's Resolutions and dashed them before anyone has begun. There is article after article outlining the statistics of what type of resolutions are made and how long people stick with them.  Don't let this stop you; make a better choice and plan for success. Successful individuals find SMART goals help them reach their intended outcome. SMART goals are:
  • Specific. Define the specific goal, along with the steps you are going to take to achieve it. Answers the question—Who? and What? 
  • Measurable. Choose a goal that is quantifiable. The success toward meeting the goal can be measured. Answers the question—How?
  • Action Oriented. Devise a plan for reaching your goal. Anticipate bumps, know what obstacles may come. Identify ways to work with and around them. Recruit help.
  • Realistic. The goal set needs to be within your ability. That doesn't mean it should be easy; pursuing it may push you out of your comfort zone. But the goal itself needs to be potentially achievable given your current lifestyle, time and effort you are capable of investing. Remember that what is right for you may not be right for another and vice versa.
  • Timely. Set a timetable for your goal and for each step that will take you there.
A SMART goal clarifies exactly what is expected and the measures used to determine if the goal is achieved. Examples of SMART goals:
  • I will incorporate 2 sessions of 30 minute cardiovascular exercise into my week. On Sunday, I will set ’Cardio Appointments’ in my calendar for these sessions. If I cancel an appointment, I will be sure to commit to another with the change in my calendar. 
  • I will journal what I feel emotionally and physically before and after I eat. I will also document what I eat and when. I will carry a mini journal and pen with me. If I am eating without a journal present, I will type these details into the notes on my phone. I will add these notes to my journal by the day’s end. 
The IT department I work in is already buzzing with individuals deciding to "eat healthier."  Be sure you don't fall into this black hole. Set yourself up for success by taking the time to plan... make your goals SMART.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Be Joyful

This time of year our attention is often pulled to material happiness and external validation but joy truly comes from within.

I read an article that suggested using the mantra, "Happiness is within."  As I rest on the table for an acupuncture treatment, I repeated that sentence over and over.  I was feeling horrible that day and it showed.  The acupuncturist came back and said I looked bright and at ease.  I shared my mantra.  He wasn't surprised.

Mind over matter.  Good words not only feel nice but have the power to heal.  And intention... well you know I believe.

I pray that as we enjoy the festivities, family and friends that we not be saddened, angered or distracted by our external needs but nurtured by the joy within.  May you share words from your heart and act with love.  May your joy warm and inspire all who cross your path this day and everyday.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Celebrate Today

The Mayan calendar ends today causing many to interpret that as the end of the world.  We're here... we made it.  Not without hardship, struggle and fear.  Perhaps those feelings weren't from the "looming" end but from life itself.  This adventure takes us up and down and sometimes knocks us on our butt.  We have a choice - stay there or get back up.

Is it possible to feel the elation of joy, happiness and love without the feelings of pain and sorrow?  Would we be truly living if we moved through life numb and distracted?  I don't think so... we'd be going through the motions void of gifts so graciously given to us.  So let's feel it all.  Let's take the bad and embrace the good.  Let's pick each other up with words, smiles and hugs.  Let's be open to receive and share.

Today... it's the end of running and hiding.  It's the end of thinking we're not good enough or worthy of joy.  Today we let go of the fears and move past the distractions.  Today we jump on and enjoy the ride.

Join me in celebrating today by shining your light for all to see.  A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.  As today's winter solstice marks the coming of light, let us welcome this light into our hearts fueling the flame the burns within.  As Christina Sell said, "Shine brightly.  The world needs you."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Than a Happy Belly

One way to my heart is through my belly.  Each meal serves as a source of life giving energy.  Mental clarity and weight control are a few other benefits of a wholesome breakfast.  I have been mixing it up in the kitchen and hope you’ll find my new favs mouthwatering or inspiring.  More recipe ideas can be found on my Pinterest Yummy board.
  • Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast – Super easy, nutrient rich, full of flavor and you can make it the night before.
  • Eggs & Sauteed Veggies – Mix and match these veggies: peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, bok choy, green onions, chard, chives and avocado.  You can even toss in a lil sweet potato.
  • Breakfast Burritos – Add a sprinkle of cumin and red pepper flakes to your scrambled eggs and or veggies then throw in a tortilla.  The spice kicks it up a notch without the need for extra salt or cheese.  The veggies can be leftover, cooked or raw.  You can even buy them cut at the store fresh or frozen.
  • Quinoa Flakes – I like to add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil per serving for a little extra flavor.  Fresh mint leaves also add to this belly warming breakfast.    
Breakfast does more than make my belly happy.  It begins my day with love and intention.  When I take the time to prepare and eat a meal in the morning, I honor my need for nourishment and ground myself in peace.  May you savor your next breakfast in the company of family, friends or in your own quiet meditation.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Letter to Your Spirit

Unconditionally... that's the love that is embracing every inch of you.  It will warm you; if you let it.

You are never alone.  Emotions may be tough; soften within.  Like a fish glides in the changing water allow yourself to flow with the changing current of emotions.  Be fluid in your thoughts, needs and actions.

Life will be better than you ever imagined.  

You are a beautiful gift that has yet to be fully opened.  The grace you are bestowed with goes far beyond the ages and deeper than your heart.  Your true beauty comes from what lives inside.

Think abundance... You have all that you need.  Say that, "I have all that I need."

Shine brightly my friend.  Allow others to see and be guided by your light.  It's there and it's brilliant.  Begin to share with your smile, then your words.  Your inner fire, a beacon for happiness never dulls.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Things I Learned From... The Village Retirement Center Yogis

Love may end but it can always begin again.

Genuine care is felt by ways of words, hugs and the simple act of asking.

Learning never stops.

One can age with grace and humor.

Community embraces and welcomes all.

Hope in the future has no expiration.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Through the Eyes of a Child... Boat Pose

"Lift your heart." I say to Olivia while we're in Boat Pose.

She responds, "I'm going in the water."  After we capsized and regained our composure, we captured the shot to the right with our hearts lifted.

This story reminds me...
  • Have fun.
  • Don't take things so seriously.
  • Size doesn't matter.  
May you float with the current of today and enjoy the view.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Celebrate the Color in Each Other

The convergence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers is the main attraction at one of my morning spots.  Before the sun made its debut for the day, it lit the sky with vibrant colors of orange, teal, yellow and blue.  Having pondered the decorative canopy throughout this fall, I was easily absorbed in the delight of color once again.  

To focus on one hue would not cast the same alluring image.  The beauty came to life in the play of colors.  I was reminded of my thoughts from years ago... Sometimes we need to step back and see the beauty of the forest instead of critiquing each tree.  

The reflection was not only about trees but each other and society.  Every day presents opportunities to focus on the ignorant, unintentional or annoying words or actions of others.  Lately, I have found myself in situations that I become unaware of the gifts each individual brings and focus on the "ick" instead.  This has cast a shadow on my ability to recognize the unique charm of each person and lowered my enjoyment and peace in life.  

Although it seemed the sun pulled me away from my morning intentions, the color meditation brought me back... I strive to see others as a colorful illustration of the divine.

I invite you to join me as I refocus.  Let's celebrate the color in each other.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Day After

What has surprised me in today's conversations was the "day after" theme.  September 11 has left an imprint in our lives as do all tragedies, heartbreaks or major life challenges.  Until today, I had not thought about the "day after" these momentous occasions.  What do we do to pick up the pieces?  How do we find peace despite the chaos?  Where do we go?  How do we move forward?  The questions and what ifs are endless.

My practice prepares me for the "day after."  As a holistic yoga practitioner, my practice is not just of asana or physical poses but that of breath, meditation and ritual.  My yoga practice seeks to establish balance of mind, body & spirit as well as the emotional, chemical and structural elements of my being.

It is on my mat that I seek refuge and find quiet.  My yoga practice connects me to myself, the community and the Divine.  On my mat I am fearless, strong, empowered with choice, brave and courageous.  My practice helps me remember that off my mat I am all of those things.  My practice is in the everyday activities on and off that magic carpet.  So the "day after" I remain fearless, strong, empowered with choice, brave and courageous.

My business' tagline is, "To illuminate your path for life's adventure."  My intention is to teach you tips and tricks to enable you to practice on and off the mat today and the "day after".  May you find inspiration in my written and spoken words.  May you be supported by your practice.  May this day by a reminder to be present... after all it is a gift.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gift of Love in All Relationships

My Sister Allison & I
Today would be my sixth wedding anniversary.  Not being good with remembering this date, I forgot all about it until a colleague brought up the Renaissance Festival.  Ah yes... an anniversary celebration included a trip to the festival.  Since Monday, I've been plagued with the approaching "holiday".

Throughout the entire week I struggled with anxious feelings.  Not knowing why... perhaps not stopping long enough to recognize what it was... I did my stress relieving things.  Salt baths, yoga, meditation, hikes and cooking helped me feel good but didn't relieve the underlying anxiety.  It was in conversation with friends I began to notice a pattern.  When I admitted the day was approaching and came clean with my feelings of anger, the anxiety lifted.

My Father & I
My divorce was two years in the making.  The first a year of non-traditional marriage and although the divorce was amicable, the second year included resolution of other legal obligations.  In the dissolution of my marriage, I single-handedly bared the weight of five years worth of legal and financial troubles.  My anger had been building.  In the end over $7000 spent with 2 lawyers and banker telling me they hadn't seen a case like mine before.  The day, once a celebration of two friends joining in marriage, has become a reminder of the anger I have for the lack of respect from my once best friend.

So this day has arrived.  I laid in bed reflecting... meditating.  I had been challenged to find a way to acknowledge this day.  The choice is mine.  Not only did Ron and I join in marriage but my friends and family gathered to celebrate love.  That beautiful undying and mysterious feeling does not haunt this day but blesses it.  My morning intention becomes obvious... My anger dissolves and I bathe in Loving Kindness.

My Cousin & I
The best parts of my wedding day were the kisses and hugs from all who gathered.  Today, I celebrate the gift of love in all relationships.  I honor the friends and family that have wiped my tears, embraced me in their arms and supported my growth.  Each has given me smiles and reminded me of my light.  This day I see the love in all of my relationships and I give thanks.

Perhaps you are wondering... How can I share gratitude with those I love?  How can I honor my relationships?  Let's all try.  Please join me today in celebrating the Gift of Love in All Relationships.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Are You Hearing or Listening?

Are you tuned out or busy thinking about what you're going to say next?  Are you asking for clarification on what is being shared?  When we are completely present with the people we're communicating with, the engagement can be a meditative practice.

We bring an openhearted presence to our thoughts and feelings rather than reacting out of fear or hurt when we approach our conversations as we do meditation.  Being in meditation is being in a place of patience, observation and objectivity of the moment.  A good listener has those skills and is often a widely-valued friend, employee and family member.

Most of these tips I learned when working with teenagers; from suicide to break ups and sex to God, we talked about it all.  I cannot imagine a tougher group to communicate with.  I find the following tips help me to be a good listener to people of all ages.

Paraphrase what you hear... An active listener will listen to what you are saying and may often repeat the main points to establish an understanding.  This may be done by saying, “What I am hearing you say is…” finishing the sentence by paraphrasing the speaker's points.  This helps to avoid mis-communication and develops trust with the person talking. 

Ask about their experience or feelings... With this tip, you will be avoiding the pitfalls of unintentionally assuming, judging or labeling the other person’s experiences.  Ask, “How does that make you feel?”  This question opens the door for your friend to share about their experience.  For those individuals that are shy or the topic is sensitive they may use the “I don’t know” excuse.  You can easily turn it around by saying, “If you did know…?”  That usually elicits a response and keeps the conversation flowing.  The response may not be the answer you are looking for but it will keep the person from closing conversation's door.

Stay grounded... Remember you always have your breath.  Just as your breath grounds you on the mat, it will ground you in a conversation allowing you to ride the wave of emotion rather than be swept away with it.  

Let’s bring our meditation practice to our relationships and listen.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shine Through

The light in your heart is ever burning.  Nothing can snuff it out.

You may be disappointed by people's actions.
You are loved.  Shine Through.

Relationships change; they may even end.
Your heart is whole.  Shine Through.

It may feel like you're climbing uphill and the top is nowhere in sight.
You're moving towards your goal.  Shine Through.

Your commitments may make you feel overextended.
You have choice.  Shine Through.

The bills may mount and expenses unending.
You are safe & secure.  Shine Through.

Your body may hurt and the pain unceasing.
You are healing.  Shine Through.

The thoughts of your mind may bring you down.
You can change them.  Shine Through.

The challenges you face may feel like unmovable walls.
You can climb over.  Shine Through.

Shine through my dear friend.
Shine Through.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You Can... Should You?

It’s a regular phrase of mine during class.  The words so easily roll off the tongue.  Yet here I am faced with the depth of that simple sentence.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. 

Yep, that’s it.  Seems easy and applicable to the yoga practice.  For example, if you’re physically under the weather you could do a strong yoga practice; however, it may be best to dial it back and explore the softer edge.  Taking it a little bit farther, you could touch your toes in a forward bend but in some cases you shouldn't in order to maintain the length & space in the spine.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. 

So when faced with the challenges my right hand presented as it healed from my cyst removal and second coming.  (I named them Billy & Bobby.)  I have explored that phrase in my own yoga practice on the mat and even more off.  Billy’s departure leaving me in a cast for a week and a very bruised hand for a month.  I could have taught all of my classes, cooked dinner every night, or responded to every email but I didn't… I shouldn’t.  I needed to rest.

When Bobby popped up, my nervous system remained in a highly active state resulting in more pain.  In an effort to work with my body, I removed all Downward Facing Dog and Plank poses.  I cried at the decision.  I most certainly could do the poses; however, I shouldn’t.  So I didn’t.  In addition to meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, reduction in time commitments and other stress relieving activities, I was able to bring my pain level down and increase my quality of life.  Time commitments… that was tough.  Just because I could go here or do this didn’t mean I should.  With support, I didn’t.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Eight words that have given me pause for the last year.  I’m not perfect and I did not do it every time.  I make mistakes and keep trying.  That’s why it’s a practice.  What are you facing in your life that even though you can, you shouldn’t?  What support can you enlist to put this phrase into practice?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pathways to Prayer

As a holistic yogi, I believe in the balance of mind, body and spirit. With my glowing rock (Himalayan salt   rock lamp), stain glass angel ornament, various stones and angel figurine on my desk at work, I do not shy from sharing my spirituality in the Type A male dominated industry my day job resides.

My spirituality far surpasses the symbols and is a part of my daily life.  I embrace the spiritual practices of many disciplines from meditation to sweat lodges and smudging to laying on of hands.  I believe God is too big to be defined or explained by any one discipline or dogma.  I pray with my voice, my body and my actions.  I pray... meaning I honor and connect with the Divine.

Perhaps the beauty in having many religions is that together they may begin to encompass the vastness of the Divine.  Having worked for a church for seven years and teaching spirituality my entire adult life, I am aware of the challenges others and I face in maintaining a regular spiritual practice.  So I am sharing my own pathways to prayer in hopes that it may inspire your spiritual path.  
  • Song as Meditation - Sometimes my words aren’t there, so I employ those of another.  Choosing a song that resonates with my current experience listening to the lyrics and focusing on my heart or inner voice.  My current Prayer Playlist includes:
    • Shelter Your Name by Danielle Rose
    • Love You More by Matthew West
    • Angel by Sarah McLachlan
    • I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz (more in my blog)
    • Beyond - Buddhist and Christian Prayers (the entire CD)
  • My Daily Prayer - I have found the book Grace, Guidance, and Gifts Sacred Blessings to Light Your Way to be truly perfect for everyday use.  Each piece can be selected at random on any day and includes a Message from Spirit, Morning Prayer or Affirmation, Mantra and Personal Blessing.  With 5-10 minutes I am truly tapped into my higher self and that of the Divine with this beautiful book.
  • Digital Inspiration - I created a Spirit Calendar that contains "events" with reminders to set my intention, pray or connect with my heart.  In the body of the event and email are the details so that I don't have to come up with it during my busy day.  I have most events set on a four day rotation so that I don't get bored.  The magic in the timing of appointments has everything to do with my personal schedule and energy levels during the day. If you have a Google calendar and would like to add this to yours and therefore copy events let me know.  I'd be happy to walk you through that... it's super easy.  
Let us find balance in mind, body and spirit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ketchup Monsters & the City

Ketchup Monsters & Me 
Imagine this… You’re downtown Des Moines sitting on a fifth story deck as cars hustle by in their morning commute. Every once in a while a screech of tires is heard and dogs bark as their owners quickly tend to their pets’ needs before work. Is this a good place for meditation?

For me… Yes. In meditation we seek to find peace and stillness amid the chaos. I find that we resist our meditation or yoga practice because we don’t have the perfect setting. When any place will truly do.

I mean really, when do you need to be able to tap into that peaceful breath most? It’s when I’m sensing a conflict, uncomfortable conversation or my emotions heat up. I need it when the kiddies are bouncing off the Jason’s Deli booth and ketchup is flying while my sister just laughs at me and my new Heinz stains.

Today my morning meditation was on that fifth story deck. Knowing that a majority of my day would be spent in front of two computer monitors, I took my practice outside to soak in the morning sun and fresh air. To my surprise, the distractions of the city inspired my practice. I found that deep state of peace despite the seemingly, unsettling atmosphere.

You’ve heard me say it… “You choose your focus.” I could have focused on the dogs or the cars and sirens therefore, giving them my peace. Instead, I focused on my breath. I turned my gaze inward allowing the “stuff” to fade. It was still there and I was aware of it but I didn’t lose myself to it. With this continued practice, I hope to keep my cool and not (over)react but choose my response the next time my feelings escalate or the ketchup flies.

May you be embraced by peace wherever you are.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Massage for Balance

A friend so kindly informed me that the foot massage at the beginning of class was lame.  Being strong in the purpose of what I do and why I do it, I was able to appreciate his honesty without giving his head a whack.  (Hmmm… missed opportunity?)  I understand where he and probably many others are coming from.  You step on the mat to move and maybe to sweat.  Others may step onto the mat for meditation.  So why are we massaging our feet?

Like yoga, massage relieves stress and brings balance.  I mean really… are you going to turn down a massage?  Probably not… it feels good.  We often experience our bodies as putty afterwards, because of how these areas correspond to the organs, skeleton and emotions.  Acupressure and Reflexology would say that you can access your entire body in your hands, feet and ears.

This foot reflexology chart shows correlation of the various areas of your foot to your organs.  We can take this a step further by connecting the organs to the bones in yourspine with this image.    By rubbing the ball of your left foot you increase circulation in your heart and lungs.  This is circulation of blood, energy and lymph.  Your thoracic spine also benefits since your heart directly corresponds to T2 and T3 to your lungs.  Many of us carry tension in this part of our upper back a massage to the foot will help to reduce that tension and increase the feeling of wellness and vitality. 

As if that wasn’t good enough, the emotions find balance with massage as well.  By stimulating energy to our lungs, we are able to reduce feelings of grief, sadness, anguish and cloudy thinking.  Energy to our hearts helps to resolve issues of love (self or others), excessive talking and security (financial, home, etc.).

You don’t need to have the charts and tables memorized to receive the many benefits of massage.  Simply share the love with your feet and hands.  Massage yourself or a friend.  You may apply pressure with your thumbs our self massage ball. 

My Holistic Approach to Yoga and Wellness encompasses balance - the balance of chemical, structure and emotions as well as mind, body, and spirit.  So yeah, I think a massage enhances our time together on the mat.  In fact,  your physical balance will be strengthened… give it a try.  Do Tree Pose observing the subtleties then massage your feet… a good deep massage.  Then do Tree Pose again.  Notice any differences?  Don’t stop with Tree Pose try another strong balance pose.

My suggestion to you... have a seat and rub your feet!

BTW--I have a hand and feet reflexology chart in my wallet for convenience.  I'm happy to chat more next time we meet.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Things I Learned From... Yoga in the Park @ Gray's Lake

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of teaching yoga to 300+ yogis at Gray's Lake.  Many communities have picked up this trend and began offering free outdoor classes during the summer months.  These classes are an integral part of my summer weekend planning.  I love coming together with so many people to find peace on our mats and in our hearts with the cushion of grass underfoot.  In reflecting upon my morning a few things came to my beginner's mind...
  • 300 yogis in Eagle Pose is inspiring.  The group was truly soaring. 
  • A teacher doesn't... better said...  I don't need to hold back.  When I hold back I place limitations on the class and those gathered.
  • Gazing into the sky... looking beneath the trees... feeling the cushion of the earth & the tickle of the grass... reminds me beauty always surrounds.  The other reminder... I am truly supported by the Earth and those around me.  (Cue the next point.)
  • Yoga creates community.  Uniting breath, body, mind and spirit with others opens a door for a more joyful and maybe an even deeper relationship.
  • Service comes from the heart.  When asked by the KCCI reporter why I volunteer to teach, I shared my passion for sharing the accessibility of yoga to all.  I want everyone to become aware of the possibilities and gifts of yoga.  For me, teaching yoga is about providing an opportunity for growth, peace, healing, connection... an opportunity to experience and illuminate the path ahead.
  • I'm reminded of a quote I posted on Facebook... "You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
With my heart bubbling over with love for the practice we shared... Namaste.

One more thing... I'll be teaching at Gray's Lake again on July 21.  Hope to share this unique experience with you.

Oh... and another... KCCI did a story on this class.  Check it out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happiness is Within

Happy Monday =)

Your mind helps to create your experience.  Choose your thoughts.  Allow the ones that hurt or cause stress to go... blow 'em out with your exhale or write 'em down and shred the paper.  Then think of what makes you happy.  What makes your eyes sparkle and your smile grow?  What gives you a sense of joy deep within?  Maybe you are not able to enjoy these things right now, but the thought of them will lift your spirit and brighten your light.  Here's a sampling of what makes me happy:
Ride the Horse - Giddy Up!

  • Mornings
  • Smiles
  • Sunrises
  • Giggle - from lil kids & big kids (the adults)
  • When someone asks with genuine care, "How are you?" or "How are you feeling?"
  • Yoga
  • Lakes, rivers... any body of water... sometimes even a puddle
  • The colors pink & purple
  • Flowers
  • Colorful food
  • Conversations with a friend
  • Hugs
  • Kisses on my cheeks
My Niece Mallory & I - happily fed
What makes you happy?  Take a minute... no need for more and bring to mind a few things that make you happy.  Even better if you close your eyes visualize one or more of them - see, feel, hear whatever it is.  Imagine it is your present.  Then open your eyes.

Happiness is within... 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wishes & Dreams

My morning routine consists of skimming my morning e-newsletters to find inspiration and insight.  This morning I came across an article about a new social networking platform "My Last Wish".  It's not the social networking aspect that drew me in but the concept - share your hopes and dreams with others so that you may find support and take ownership of your dream.

I've been exploring this idea for a lil while and will share more in a future newsletter.  But for now I share top of mind wishes... dreams...
  • Write a book... or a few.  
  • Engage an audience in conversations about my books.
  • Teach yoga with an organization that embraces holistic wellness and offers services as well as products that meet my high standards.
  • Be the Owner of that organization.
Hmmmmm...... Now in print... wishes no more... they have become intentions.

What are your wishes and dreams?

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Kiss of Rain

Which is easier to answer...
  • What did you do today?  
  • What didn't you get done?
I find myself on to the next before fully appreciating what I have accomplished.   I am always aware of the things I have yet to get to.  Today I hear my words from class, "You choose your focus."  Perhaps it is time I give some focus to what I have done and spend less time beating myself up over what I haven't.

On a recent hike in the rain, my friend captured this photo of the water dancing on the tree buds.  A sign of spring that will pass very quickly and the drops to dry just as fast.  This was at the very end of our journey into the woods.  We were just 100 feet from the truck.  Had we had our focus on the next destination, we would have missed this beautiful gift Mother Nature shared.

Entrenched in the demands of work, family and other activities, are we so busy looking ahead that we miss what is right in front of us?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Changing Email Services

Hello My Friends... I am changing email services for the distribution of my blog posts.  No worries; I have done all the work.  Your next update will be sent from my email address and definitely look a lil prettier.  If you are subscribed by an RSS feed, you will continue to receive posts as you always have.  Let me know if you have any questions.  If you would like to receive updates by email please subscribe to the Always a Yogi List here.  Feel free to pass along!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Super Moon

The moon does not shine light all its own but reflects that of a star.  A star so bright it creates day.  The moon so subtle we find peace at night.  Yin and yang.  Masculine Feminine.  Soft Strong.  Cool Hot.  A spectrum to play with to find our balance.

Saturday's Super Moon rose from the horizon casting its (?) light through the wisps of clouds creating a vibrant orange haze. This big circle with energy all it owns lit up the night sky hiding outshining the stars.  Several factors aligned to create the Super Moon Saturday night.  All of which could have gone unnoticed.  The fact remains the Super Moon reflected another's light.

I have taken note of others I surround myself with.  Do they enhance my light?  Do I theirs?  Do they snuff mine or instigate a reaction in me that extinguishes my own?  What light do I reflect?  How?

With these thoughts in mind I adjust how and what I give my time - my energy to.  Knowing there is a balance of yin and yang - give and receive, I choose to spend my days giving and receiving light than hiding or extinguishing.

On a side note, I see light as your spirit or divine essence.  Your light is not the definitions, hats or roles you take or actions you make.  Your being is your light.  Your light is your true self.

The divine light in me honors the divine light in  you... Namaste.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bridge to the Present

Suspension Bridge at Zo El Annett Woods
Last week I decided to enjoy the weather by exploring new territory.  In my efforts to find two new-to-me county parks, I became frustrated.  All I wanted was to get there.  I felt my time was limited and got caught in the mindset that to release my stress from the workday I needed to BE in those parks as soon as I could.  When really what I needed was to BE present.  It took me going over the same plot of road three times and not even making it to the second park before I realized I was disconnected from the moment.

The irony in my evening was presented with the 6 bridges I encountered.  From the rickety one-lane bridge I drove across to find Zo El Annett Woods to the 4 bridges in the park then the bridge that was closed detouring my trip to Otter Creek.  The final closed bridge brought me to the moment.

The unexpected end to my travels was at the Hickory Hills mounds.  As I walked down the sun soaked ridge, the mounds begged me to reflect..

  • What pulls me out of the present - in small and big ways?
  • How do I come back?
  • What am I feeling right now... emotionally... physically... mentally?
  • Where are the bridges in my life?  Are they open or closed?
  • Are there any bridges I need to repair?
I encourage you to take a deep breath... be here.  Another deep breath... feel, see, hear... savor this moment.  Living in the present connects us with the peace that lives within.  Although we may stray, it is always there awaiting our return.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mindfully Choose

Will you choose to smell the flowers or walk past?
We make choices everyday... hundreds upon thousands of them.  Most of which we attribute to the "have to" or "should do" category.  Regardless of the reasoning, it is a choice we make to say or do whatever we may be saying or doing.  Mindfulness is a practicing of living in the moment present to your thoughts, emotions, needs and the current factors affecting all.  I invite you to bring mindfulness to your choices by being aware that you do in fact have a choice as to what you are doing and thinking.  So often we just do without thought or attention to the why and whether it is absolutely necessary at that time or even if it serves a higher good.

As you practice mindfulness in your choices today, ask yourself ‘Can I make a better choice?’  This question helps me to commit to a healthy balanced lifestyle.  I find no benefit in feeling guilty about the past or being swept away with an overwhelming feeling of the future.  I am present or mindful of each choice at hand without concerning myself with the choices of next week or month.  

I have resigned the need for a perfect solution or choice.  Instead working towards the better choice looking at my current options, I identify the best choice fully knowing that in slightly different circumstances (another moment) it may not be the best choice at hand.  In addition to releasing the need for perfection, I have chosen to not put off my attention to choice.  I have found that if I put off my better choice off until ‘life slows down’ those good choices may never get made and my wellness and vitality would not improve.  

Let each day be an opportunity for you to be your best self.  I encourage you to reestablish your control in making life giving choices for yourself.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Time to Retreat

I am super excited to share my upcoming retreats with you.  With opportunities to practice yoga, meditate and enjoy the company of fellow yogis I hope you will join me.  All are welcome from the experienced to the newbie.  You know how I teach... offering various modifications with attention to your needs.

A retreat will give you some much needed "YOU TIME." A little break from work, the to dos and relationship demands... time to relax and reconnect with your spirit, body and mind.

I will be facilitating two retreats (Ignite the Spark Within June 24 and Free to Flow September 16) just south of Indianola at beautiful county parks featuring breathtaking landscapes and Indian Mounds.  These retreats are a lil bit shorter than last summer's and the schedule to include the sharing of a beautiful meal.  Check out the specifics for Illuminate You or register today.

In less than a month, I will teach a class Sunday afternoon at the Yoga Nature Retreat at Honey Creek Resort that will also feature yoga, outdoor activities and other healing arts like Tai Chi and Reiki.  I had a conference call last week and was surprised to hear that this first time retreat has over 80 participants registered.  This resort is nestled in beautiful southern Iowa and features exquisite views of Rathbun Lake.  If you can't make it to the retreat, I highly recommend you check it out especially the beautiful hiking trial through the prairie.

Retreat Details:

Yoga Nature Retreat May 18-20 at Honey Creek Resort

Ignite the Spark Within June 24 at Hickory Hills

Free to Flow September 16 at Annett Nature Center

Friday, April 20, 2012

Things I Learned From... Traditional Sun Salutations

Sun Rising with Hot Air Ballons
As many of you know, I am not a fan of using the sun salutations in their traditional sequence over and over and over again.  As we've played with these in class, I usually mix it up by adding different modifications or postures at various points in the traditional sequence.  Still a sun salute but not the traditional sequence over and over and over.  This morning, I practiced my salutes traditionally 3 of each series A, B & C.  Making only one modification I twisted my lunge in the final C salutation.

How many times a week do you do the same thing over and over and over again.  Oh man... for me it's the dishes, the laundry, cutting vegetables, driving to and from Des Moines... the list goes on.  The correlation of my approach to and mindset during these activities and the traditional sun salutations offers an opportunity to explore.  Here's what I learned from the experience and my further reflection...
Olivia & Lynn - Twisted Lunge
  • It is easy to get bored in a repetitive activity... to lose interest in the present moment.  These activities present a great challenge to practice with a Beginner's Mind.  To approach life with a beginner's mind, we experience life as if it was the first time doing/hearing/seeing/feeling whatever it is in that moment.
  • It feels good to let creativity grow in the subtlety of the daily constants.  
  • A deep and steady breath calms a monkey mind.
  • Joy is not only found in the crazy, big and unique opportunities.  Joy is found within... ALWAYS.
  • A twist may be all you need to break the monotony.  
  • Begins and ends with the heart.
Namaste _/|\_

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Honoring My Spirit & Recognizing Ego

Blue Bells
Exploring Nine Eagles State Park, Slip Bluff, Lake Red Rock, Pammel Park, and Lake Ahquabi, I have indulged my passion of hiking.  With open eyes and heart, I see and feel the world.  A world filled with beauty; every turn a new vibrant color.  My eyes feast upon the landscape decorated with hues of spring.  The greens come alive with the rain.  The brown trunks contrast the new life bursting  from its branches.  On the hillside at Hickory Hills, blue bells swing in the wind as if to ring in joy that I am on the right path.

The right path...  I wonder does that exist?  Who decides what is right?  I turn inward, the color of my soul casting light on my question.  My inner voice - my spirit decides what is right.  Oh the ego grins at this idea, but I know which is me and that which is ego.

Lake Ahquabi Trail
With mindfulness I tap into the voice within... the tone and language point me to the source.  My ego is selfish, greedy, judgmental, afraid, pessimistic, harsh, fake, unwilling or abrasive.  My spirit's voice is loving, happy, positive, subtle, kind, genuine, open, at ease and peaceful.

In this moment I ask myself... and you... How do I connect with my spirit?  Am I listening?  Careful to tune into my inner voice and not another's voice, I continue the journey following my spirit's lead.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Trusting to Bend Back

Standing Backbend
At the Central Iowa Yoga Retreat yesterday, James Miller utters the words Standing Backbend and my body immediately tenses.  Really Lynn Marie, 3 hours of yoga and you tighten up like the day began with just the sound of two words?

I can do wheel - on my finger tips or even dropping to my forearms.  I have the strength and flexibility to do beautiful backbends.  It's not the pose itself that elicits fear.  So what is it?  This was the part of our practice we had the assistance of our partners.  I turn to my partner, who is also a student of mine, and immediately tell her I'm terrified of standing backbends.  I even give her a chance to feel my sweaty palms.  Eww - I know.  But I needed her to understand I'm not as invincible as I may seem in class.

We do a couple variations; no problem.  We come back together as a group and James shares a bit about Trust.  I, in my backbend euphoria, only hear not quite listening.  We go back to our partners.  I again turn to Susan and say, "I don't know why but they scare me."  Susan knowing my story says, "Lynn, it's about trust."  Tears well up in my eyes.  An issue of trust?  Wow, that's it.

With a standing backbend, we trust what we can't see.  We arch back, opening our hearts with complete trust that we will be supported.  We trust that we will be free from harm - free from pain.

I trusted Ron, my now ex-husband.  I gave him my heart.  Ron left taking with him my confidence to trust.  Ron left every problem, issue and challenge to me.  That day I came home from yoga class... that day before my birthday... I saw the note.  I dropped to the ground in tears.  Returning to child's pose, my dining room floor supported me and what felt like the weight of the world universe.

I trusted Ron and his intentions.  With complete disregard to my heart he made his choice.  I have used the last two years to make choices to honor that which is within me, fueling my passions and expressing my authentic self.  I have found solutions to challenges my lawyers (yes two) and banker said were unique... unlike anything they've seen.  I have reconnected with my strength.

My divorce is now final.  My life and choices independently my own.  Yet here on my mat I find the salty residue of my tears from that day my trust, my heart was broken.  Standing and bending back truly requires an open heart and trust - in myself and/or my partner.

Wheel or Upward Bow Pose
Can I open my heart to another exposing myself to the possibility of pain and harm?  I say to myself, "May I be free from all harm and pain.  May I be happy."  Can I trust another?  "May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully and with ease."

I would love to write and say I've conquered this fear... but I haven't.  Today I've become aware and acknowledge the fear.  This day I move forward in embracing the emotion of fear as well as the hurt from my once broken heart.  It will open again; it is opening now.  Today I affirm my spirit and its innate ability to heal and find space within.  Today I set my intentions

  • I am fearless. 
  • I trust myself.
  • I trust others.
  • My heart is open.
  • I am open to receive as well as to give.
  • I love fearlessly.
  • I fully express my love with myself and others.
Tomorrow I try again.  One day I'll dropback free from all fear.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Things I Learned from... My Right Hand

Leap Day (four weeks ago) I had a benign cyst removed from my right hand.  Having come out of surgery with a small cast on my dominant right hand, I learned a few things...

Use breath to relieve frustration.
Slow down.
Healing comes with time, love and intention.
Asking for help gives another the chance to do and feel good for doing.
Slow down.
No good comes from feeling guilty for resting.
Restore with rest.
Move slower.
Slow down.

Take a deep breath and slow down.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

True to Me

I wear many hats… sister, daughter, friend, aunt, niece, teacher, listener, speaker, IT geek, student, yogi, etc. Not one of those hats encompasses my entire essence. I am not defined by a label or bunch of actions when wearing a particular hat. The essence that is me, my higher self or spirit, seeks expression through many outlets.

My spirit longs to be outside the mold of definition. My little sister, Allie, told me that I’m so far outside the box that sometimes I need to hike back to it and take a peek in. In fact, I pride myself on being unique. Yet upon reflection, I have found myself under the influence of my surroundings. I believe it is ok to shift my expression so long as I stay true to my deep truths – the values or beliefs that make me-me.

I have found there are few people that know the true me – the depth that is me. My meditation has sparked an interest to continue to work towards expressing my authentic self in all that I do with whomever I interact with. Using inspiration from Wordle, I created the image in this post as reminder of the elements that inspire me to be me.  This picture serves as my desktop pc background and each time I look a different word pops out.

Using the power of intention, I have found the following to be encouraging:
  • I release all limiting beliefs I have placed on myself and others. 
  • I am at peace with other people's opinion of me! 
  • My higher self leads today & every day. 
  • I allow my authentic self to shine! 
  • I trust myself enough to let the voice within me be stronger than any voices outside. 
  • What's within me is unique. I express it fearlessly and authentically.

I feel good when surrounding myself with these words and working to be truly me all of the time.  I've got to ask... are you being true to you?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mother Nature's Invitation to Reflect

This week presents so many beautiful elements of inspiration.  With the Spring Equinox (Tuesday, March 20), we may draw upon the balance of light and darkness or the beginning of a new season.  Today a new moon greets us with a call to start fresh.  Let us not forget the spring rain and vibrant green of growth.    

The symbols jump out… balance, light, growth, new, transition, change and beginnings.  This seems to be Mother Nature’s invitation to reflect and set our intentions.  To reflect is to go within so that we may come out more present to what surrounds us.  This is one way we may dive into our practice of mindfulness – awareness of one’s experience in the present moment.

I offer some questions to ponder in the shower, as you are driving to and fro or in a quiet space under a blanket.  Pick one or a few that speak to you… journal or let your mind roll with the thoughts provoked.
  • What in my life needs to change?
  • What no longer fits who I am?
  • How can I start fresh today?
  • In what areas of my life am I experiencing growth? 
  • What aspects of my life need watered to welcome growth?
  • Where am I resistant to change? How has this limited the choices for my life?
  • To grow, I must let go of...?
  • What seeds of change will I plant today… this week… this month?
  • What brightens the light within me?
  • How do I share my light?

Some ideas for Intentions or Affirmations from nature's inspiration…
  • I release all limiting beliefs I have placed on myself and others.
  • I meet the circumstances of my life with inner Grace and ease.
  • I start today.
  • I take action from the inspiration within.
  • I give myself the freedom to make mistakes because I know by making mistakes I can learn & grow!
  • I am supported with every breath I take.
  • I am free to be, just me.
  • My life is filled with beauty, love, abundance and joy. Each of these things find me with ease.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Magic of Five

Five may be all it takes to change your mood or brighten someone's day.  We can truly change our environment with five.  I've been playing with this concept and have found it to be very powerful.  I invite you to discover the magic of five.  Here are some ideas how...

  • Five deep breaths - no need to wait... try it now
  • Bring to mind five blessings
  • Take five minutes to connect with your intentions or goals.  I like to do this first thing in the morning or before I go to sleep.
  • Get your vitamin n.  Go outside for five. 
  • Connect for five with a partner or friend.  Get away from the "screens" and deeply connect.  
  • Share five compliments 
    • for yourself
    • for colleagues 
    • for strangers 
  • Five minutes in meditation - follow your breath and immerse yourself in the moment by observing... mind, body and spirit 
Where to find the time?
  • Waiting at the grocery store, stoplight or bank.
  • Before getting out of bed.
  • When getting into bed.
  • While you wait for a webpage or program to load.
  • During a commercial break.
  • Make it... schedule an appointment in your calendar.  Pick a different idea each day and see what happens.
Let's take, find, give five to explore the magic...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Eyes of Awe & Compassion

You know the days your body doesn’t feel like your own. Maybe it’s an injury, your menstrual cycle, illness, pregnancy or for no other reason than it just doesn’t feel the same. As I have experienced days like this lately, I have been reminded of the need to look upon myself with the eyes of awe and compassion.

This lesson was given to me in yoga class. My 22-year-old body, steps on the mat and next to me was pregnant gal 2 days before her due date. The morning sun danced on our mats as we flowed gracefully between poses. The instructor guides us into Pigeon Pose. As a first year yoga student, my ego was happy to drop my hips into the pose. The teacher guided us further. We bend our back leg and extend the opposite arm forward. Oh boy, was I challenged. My eager body could not find the pose and my breath… well I am lucky I didn’t pass out. I later realized my challenge was not the pose but the ability to see her body with awe and mine with compassion.

Yoga gives us many opportunities to practice this perspective.  It’s no surprise that in a pose like Shoulderstand we are given the challenge to look at our own bodies with both the eyes of awe and compassion. As our legs fly above our heads, our eyes often find their way to our bellies. Awe and compassion.

We practice yoga on and take it off the mat. My entire experience changes when I take a moment (or many) in my day to pause and be in awe of all that my body is doing then sharing compassion for what has become a challenge or unsettling. Let us take our yogi eyes of awe and compassion into the world, seeing all including ourselves, with these glasses.

With the eyes of awe and compassion - how are you practicing?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Won't Give Up

The beautiful spring weather invites me to open the top of my car and enjoy the music in the breeze.  I was struck by the beautiful lyrics and sound of "I Won't Give Up" sung by Jason Mraz.  This song made it's way to the playlist 3 times on my trip home today.

Divine Love, Friendship and Hope in Hardship - whichever theme you choose to interpret the lyrics, the meaning derived is nothing less than inspirational.

Divine Love... although we may call it something different... God, Universe, Divine Spirit, Gods, Goddesses, Mother, Father, Angels, Guides... the holy essence shares a love that is everlasting and always supporting.  Your God(s) says "I Won't Give Up."

Friendship... The hug, smile or words of a friend can change your entire day.  Your friends say "I Won't Give Up."

Hope in Hardship... sometimes must come from within.  We must find the strength to get up and share our light.  To believe the light is there when no one else does.  Tell yourself "I Won't Give Up."  Keep telling yourself until you believe... or fake it 'til you make it.  One day you will come to believe in yourself.  I believe in you.  I won't give up on you!

So I ask... do you hear these "groups" telling you "I Won't Give Up"?  They are saying it... and I hope you are too.  Believe in yourself and believe in each other.

I encourage you to enjoy the inspiration found in both videos - the lyric centric video and the story driven video.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feast on Gratitude

Food fuels much more than the body.  A good (or bad) meal can bring strangers together and friends closer.  It is no wonder than many religious traditions celebrate breaking bread as a community.  It is truly with intention that a meal unites bridging the gaps of time, language, and age.

My allergies to dairy and gluten can present a challenge at restaurants or with friends and family; however, I have been blessed with beautiful meals that have indeed been shared with love.  As I write this, I feast on gratitude for those that have put a dash of love on my plate.

Here are some delicious recipes I have enjoyed with friends and think you will too!

Tahini Sauce 
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 C canola oil (I usually use olive)
1/4 C tamari or Bragg's (I use the coconut aminos)
1/3 C tahini
1 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 C water

Combine in blender and blend until smooth.  Tastes delicious with blanched kale.

Honey-Balsamic Bean Salad - This salad has a zippy flavor that can be a lil addictive.  ;)  Would also be good with cherry tomatoes and a bit more romaine than the recipe calls for.

Spinach Quinoa Socca Cakes - Full of flavor, these cakes are good any time of day.  The "batter" can be made and stored in the fridge for a quick healthy dinner or breakfast.

Wild Stuffed Roasted Squash - The stuffing is good in and out of the squash.  I recommend adding oil and spice to the squash prior to stuffing.