Sunday, December 11, 2011
The holiday season can be gloriously festive with dangling mistletoe, swirling candy canes, glittery ornaments and shopping-induced highs. 'Tis also the season to be challenged in the human relations department. Beyond all the holly and carols, you might bump into other shoppers in crowded lines too many times, and you might clash with the ubiquitous Aunt Cringle at the annual family gathering. Now more than ever, especially while practicing mindfulness with my four-month-old bouncing bundle of joy, I am reminded of how important it is for me to practice yoga in order to navigate one of the hardest challenges of them all - other spiritual beings have a physical experience!
Remember - yoga means union, to yoke. Practicing yoga doesn't necessarily mean 108 sun salutations everyday at 4am, Virabhadrasana III without a fall, or perfectly chanting to Ganesh, although those can all be lovely ways to connect. You can practice yoga by finding a way you can genuinely connect, quiet your mind and be peaceful with your intentions and goals. Yoga might mean walking, dancing, writing, hiking, drawing, mindfully washing dishes or even wrapping presents!
Yesterday morning, as I was finishing up my me-time of breaking a sweat to some booty music followed by some slow flow yoga, I was reminded of the beauty and importance of literally and figuratively practicing particularly the Virabhadrasana [Warrior] poses. With the name like "warrior", one might think a sweaty P90x drill or violently fighting the Taliban, but if you really practice warrior poses as they're meant to be, you discover a beautiful element of balancing ying and yang, sun and moon, left and right, strength and softness. As I let my leg float down from three-legged downward dog and plant into Warrior I, I felt the sense of being grounded, being very strong, yet opening to a sense of grace and softening. A wonderful reminder in how I want to live physically, emotionally and energetically. And, boy, do I need reminding. :)
The grace and softening is the important part. It's easy to get defensive, to dig our heels into the ground, to tighten our jaws, and to spit words of venom. Yet, what about combining strength/assertiveness with grace/love? Try it. Don't be surprised if you surprise someone with peaceful retaliation and compromise. They might take another jab, huff and puff, or come back for more. (Remember good ole Aunt Cringle.) Combine your peace with strength, over and over.
'Tis the season to be a peaceful warrior. Plant your feet firmly, breathe deeply, reach your arms long and softly, soften your jaw while choosing your words wisely, and open your heart carefully and lovingly. Truly, let there be peace on Earth....
***Give the gift of health-fitness-peace this holiday season thru FLOW Training via SKYPE or at Caroline's home studio. Call 404.210.6752 or write email@example.com for more information. Happy Holidays!
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I bought this quotable magnet for my husband earlier this year and put it in his bathroom. Then, we had a baby.
He quickly decided the magnet was due to hang in my bathroom for my eyes to see, on my mirror no less so I can see it multiple times a day. (this was when I was seeing multiple lactation consultants to help with nipple pain to no avail. we finally decided I already had all the tips and tools...my baby and I had to keep practicing our dance, and we finally found our own rhythm for feeding and comforting. and, no more nipple pain!)
If you're on the journey of listening to your body, tossing out your diet books and unhealthy body behaviors, it can be hard to trust yourself. It can be hard to let go of the rigid rules and to truly allow your insides to guide you. I know this because I practice it, and I teach it. And, like I said, then I had a baby who reinforces this practice of nourishment and comfort and love over and over. (yes, it's a practice!)
I LOVE helpful books and therapists, and gurus and mentors, and IBCLCs and pediatricians, and baby whisperers and all the Dr. Spocks in the world. When choosing wisely with careful consideration and research, they can all be solid guides. But, I'm finding that sometimes the most important voice I've got is my own. To trust myself. To listen to my body to guide me to my healthiest, fittest self; to listen to my baby to figure out what he needs, so he learns to trust on a very basic but important level.
This intuitive approach to connecting with our bodies, ourselves and others isn't always easy, AND it might not be the most popular approach in Western culture; but I believe it's the most authentic way to a rich, intimate experience of living and loving. Cheers, Dr. Spock!
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
When I Googled "beauty", then clicked images, the following photo was the first to appear among hundreds of other close-ups of smooth skin, wide sparkling eyes, glossy-pink lips, blown-out hair, and mostly pouts with just a smile here and there:
I do think this woman is physically beautiful, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little makeup to highlight your face, and while I don’t necessarily wear tiaras out on the town, I’m all for moderate sparkly bits like diamonds and pearls.
But, I want to challenge Google, and I want to challenge you, and I want to keep challenging myself on how beauty is defined. In college, particularly surrounding the time of sorority rush, I repeatedly heard the phrase “she doesn’t work well with what she’s got.” I think you know, but that meant she wasn’t beautiful enough. Maybe she had a little acne, maybe she forgot to reapply her Mac Lipglass each hour, maybe she was curvier than what was accepted for a particular group, and maybe – God forbid – she didn’t own a strand of pearls to casually wear with her jeans and letters around campus.
I’m first to admit, I fell for wanting to fit in with how beauty was defined on my college campus. I ate tuna with yellow mustard straight from the can night after night for a period during my sophomore year. I smudged on dark eyeliner and stroke after stroke painted my eyelashes thick and black. I worked out twice a day and finally skipped my period for a couple months one summer which made me say “oh shit”. Slowly but surely, I started pulling back. I started asking the questions that led me to a new definition of beauty.
What do I really want? Who do I really enjoy? What and who exhaust me? How do I want to spend every day? Do I really like running? What if I simply say no to her request? Do I want children? Do I want a boyfriend right now? Why am I still subscribing to that belief? Etc. etc. etc. I spent the rest of my college career and my 20s single life experimenting with what truly felt good to me – not what was supposed to feel good to me. And, hey, I am still bobbing around with many questions – by no means am I done!
In no particular order, my new definition of beauty involves the themes:
Tolerance – Live and let be. I think that covers it. By the way, New York has recently become a Beauty-full state.
Flexibility – Aim to live in the gray and be flexible about your views and choices. What works for you works for you. I love the bumper sticker “Go with the flow.”
Truth – You’ve got to want to know the truth more than you want the fix, the instant gratification, the applause, the Bandaid. The truth works.
Leadership – Lead by example. Practice what you preach. Why not?
Unapologetic - Be unapologetic for the real you. Surround yourself with people who live this way gracefully and daily.
Authenticity – Keep asking the questions. Keep listening to your body, your belly, your breath, your spirit. Your answers lie within, be patient, stay true to yourself.
While the default definition of beauty might stir up visions of untouchable Victoria’s Secret supermodels or even a sprawling mansion among the cliffs of La Jolla, I challenge us to let our beauty initiate from our insides. We still don’t need to aim for perfection or being “right”. We don’t have to figure it out overnight. We can even enjoy some fruity lipstick colors and treat ourselves to a luxurious manicure here and there. The main idea is enough. See the quote below, then one last thing….
Lastly, as I write about beauty along the lines of self development and inner peace, I have an inkling that when it comes time to write about beauty again (see here as to why I’m writing about beauty in the first place), I will have a few more things to add to the list. Remember those questions I asked myself above? Well, I did want that boyfriend, and I met him, and I married him. And, we’re having a baby in about 3.5 weeks. Some people say you don’t know love or beauty until you become a parent. So, I’ll keep you posted.
I was inspired to write about Beauty due to the monthly Self-Discovery Word by Word Series started by Dr. Ashley Solomon over at http://www.nourishing-the-soul.com/ - Check out the details of this monthly blogging series here, and join if you'd like! This month's Self-Discovery Word by Word host is Valerie at http://www.balancingval.com/ - Love her writing - honest with beautiful photos to capture her truth!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Since I'm assuming you read the aforementioned blogpost, just to reiterate the writer's pros for exercise, consistent doses can: "increase aerobic capacity, decrease blood pressure and resting heart rates, improve moods, build healthy bones and joints, reduce risks for heart disease and cancer, improve circulation, boost mood, increase learning ability and improve body image."
From personal and professional experience, as people commit to moving their bodies in healthy, sustainable ways that include a variety of activity (think: cardiovascular, flexibility and strength training with appropriate rest), they become more connected to their bodies. And, what happens when you become more connected to how your body wants to move, how much strength you've got that day, what yoga or dance class you choose to take, what walking route to take to stimulate your body and mind? You become more in tune with your energy, your body, your rhythm and pace. You notice tightness in your hamstrings or shoulders, you feel an urge to add that song to your playlist for your next run, you take a coordination risk and join a Zumba class, you notice when you just need a rest or nap.
You start noticing all these physical messages on when and how to move your body, and they lead you to noticing the rumbles in your belly when it's time fuel your body. You start to notice what would truly feel satisfying and nourishing, maybe not so much that forbidden binge food but something more sustainable. Then, you notice when you're belly is satisified because there's always more where that came from...later...when your body tells you it's time. You're getting in tune with your body because you've committed to moving your body for energy, health and pleasure. You're getting in tune with your hunger and fullness because you feel better when you have energy to move and live -- and you want to feel fueled, not too full.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
One of my favorite pieces of breath work to practice and teach is letting go through the exhale. Inhale (and receive if you wish), then exhale with care releasing excess air, excess energy, and anything you’d like to simply let go. Over and over, exhale and let go.
If you’re on the sensitive side – where you feel deeply, sense the unseen, carry the weight of others’ burdens or energy, etc. – you probably could use A LOT OF LETTING GO. Let me just say it’s the theme of my life. I might solely be here on Earth to learn to let go, and then I see all kinds of other things (like receiving) that I need to learn too, so I get it – I’ve got a lot more lessons to learn before I can say I’ve got any of it figured out. [As I hope you know, if anyone tells you they’ve got all the answers, please run far, far away from them – and very quickly.]
You know you’re in the thick of it when not only can you sense your own lesson being learned but also you keep running into it in other people. I have clients and even dear friends who are in places where they are working tirelessly on letting go. Jobs that are too stiff. Relationships that aren’t so healthy or romantic. Medical issues that seem relentless. Eating disorders that are robbing them of truly living and thriving.
From a professional point of view, I think the tender, raw spots in my clients are what make my work so interesting and real. We can get in touch with the breath, ground through movement, and find strength, power and grace through various forms of exercise. And, when the going gets tough, I remind them to let go – through the breath and, ultimately, in their hearts. It’s cool stuff, it takes practice, but I swear it works.
So why am I writing specifically about letting go? I can teach and preach, but I’ve always found it helpful and more believable when my teachers and preachers share some of their own personal humility along with the lesson. A little background: I do love what I do. I love learning about new ways to train the body/spirit/self through yoga, creative movement, resistance training, etc. I’m usually gung-ho about signing up for a workshop, or teacher training, or related training/learning event. And, I love brainstorming new workshops to promote and lead. I’m blessed that I’ve found something fascinating where I can grow along with my clients.
And, then something happened this past winter that made me slow down and shift gears from more-more-more to simply being. It’s called pregnancy. For a while there, all I could do was watch TLC – A Baby Story, Bringing Home Baby, What Not to Wear, Say Yes to the Dress. Not in that particular order, but reality tv – something that usually pinches my last nerve – was something I could stomach. Not the computer, not writing, not another yoga workshop. I just wanted mind-(and stomach-)numbing activities.
The first trimester crept by (as grateful as I felt to grow life inside of me, I yearned for that 12-week mark other women kept talking about!), and while I regained that pep in my step and felt like I could conquer the world again, I’ve still not been floored to do-do-do, learn-learn-learn, teach-teach-teach. Matter of fact, I recently stopped teaching one class, and it’s been a Godsend. I feel even lighter as my belly grows – grateful to have more time to just be. Not to give, not to teach, not to take care of others.
For a second there, I got worried that I was depressed – where did my drive go? My chutzpah? My enthusiasm? But then, several wise women reminded me this is a time to go within, to honor the new life inside, to simply go with the flow. Another lesson in letting go. Let go of the need to create something huge, to push, or to improve. I’m already creating something huge, will be pushing in some form or another in August if you know what I mean, and have you ever told a hormonal pregnant woman to improve on something? (Fat chance you got a warm look or response!)
I’m getting used to this slowing down. I’m taking my time preparing for my baby, enjoying the growth and abundance of Spring, and continuing to let go – to let go of the variety of fears that come along with parenthood. I like the saying “ignorance is bliss” – I know my life is going to change, and I know I’ll never be able to just “run out” like I used to, I know I’ll be hormonal and feel a little (or very) crazy, and I know I can’t even imagine what joy and love will fill my heart. All of that will come in time, I’m not going to drive myself crazy trying to read every parenting book known to woman. It will all come in time.
Now’s time to let go, to take good care of my current clients, to enjoy this quiet time with my husband and fur family. To inhale trust and grace, and to exhale the things that can wait. Who says lessons always have to be hard to learn? This is a lesson in letting go that I’ll embrace. By the way, if I’m not updating my blog, I’m probably just watching TLC or trying to keep my begonias alive. But, perhaps this opening up about my slowing down will allow me to open up, to share this truly amazing body experience. Peace and letting go to you.
Monday, March 21, 2011
11th Annual Merrick's Walk & Fun Run
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Merrick's Walk is an annual EDIN event held in loving memory of Merrick Ryan, a 19-year old who died from complications due to anorexia. This year we ask that you please join us, as we continue to strive for better health. All proceeds from the event will benefit EDIN's educational prevention programs. We hope to see you there!
12 and under: $15 Pre-register / $20 Day of
Can't attend? Be a Phantom Walker or Runner
Where & When:
The Galloway School
215 W. Wieuca Road NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30342
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Registration @ 12:00 pm / Events @ 1:00 pm
Proceeds benefit EDIN’s eating disorder prevention and wellness programs for students from K-12, teachers, parents, eating disorders sufferers and their loved ones. For more information about EDIN, visit: http://www.myedin.org/
Please contact Lisbeth Rhine at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-816-3346