17.01.05 – Inflamed: Welcome to your Microbiome!

Our digestive system is the foundation for wellness & immunity, having the highest concentration of immune cells in our entire body.  It was Hippocrates who first said, “all disease begins in the gut.”
Inflamed by Shelly Malone – Amazon

What if I told you that our gut could be the epicenter for gas, bloating and poop issues? Continue reading “17.01.05 – Inflamed: Welcome to your Microbiome!”

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TUESDAYS @ THOMASVILLE YMCA – 10.14.14 (Brahmacharya – Taming Our Indulgence PART 2)

Taming Our Indulgence (Part 2)
Mantra – I have a right to face my life.

Sometimes the feel of need is sadness.  I found this experience to be true for me when my mother died.  While my mother was alive, one of our favorite things to do together was to stay up late into the night watching a movie and eating ice cream.  After her death, I found myself “craving” late night movies and ice cream.  When I checked in with my body, it was clear that I was tired and full.  In truth, I was missing my mom and I needed to face the grief.  To indulge in a movie and ice cream would have left me with excess weariness in my body and excess food in my stomach.  And I would still be missing my mom.  I needed to separate my mind’s story from my body’s needs and simply let myself cry.

If we are feeding our mental stories and have moved past bodily comfort, we are in addiction and out of harmony.  Nonexcess is not about nonenjoyment.  It is actually about enjoyment and pleasure in its fullest experience.  Are you eating the food, or is the food eating you?  Are you doing the activity, or is the activity doing you?  Can you enjoy pleasure without excess?  In answering these questions, we have to be able to discern between what the body needs in the moment and the story our mind is telling us. ( I don’t know about you, but I have personally noticed that sugar, salt and caffeine create more mind stories than lettuce does!)  We also must be fearless in facing our sadness, grief, and disappointments without needing to soothe them with food or other means.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

Tuesdays @ Thomasville YMCA – 9.16.14 (Asteya – Stealing from the Earth)

I will immediately claim a deficiency in this aspect of Asteya.  I like MY stuff.  I worked hard for MY stuff.  One day though, MY stuff will move on to someone else or rot and decay.  

Possessions are defined as “the state of having, owning, or controlling something.”  I especially do not like the word controlling.  In a Performance Yoga post, we discussed how it is frustrating when trying to control the brain.  Possessions can bring that same level of frustration.  Ultimately we are given or have purchased them and are now tasked with either caring for them or destroying them.  There is stress here.  It means that we will be careful and consider the next person to possess the item or we will allow stagnation to form and the item will be useless to future generations.  We are on loan to this earth just as our possessions are on loan to us.

Stealing from the Earth
Mantra – I am on loan.

We forget that we are spirits having a human experience.  We are visitors to the human experience; we are visitors in the fullest sense of the word.  We are visitors to this land, to our bodies, to our minds.  To fully appreciate this reality is to accept that nothing on this physical plane does or can belong to us.

We use the term “I,” “mine,” and “my” with almost everything … my house, my car, my clothes, my kids … we can even say, “I had a flat tire.”  The ownership of things is steeped deep in our language and cultures and makes it hard for us to appreciate the extent to which nothing really is ours.  This guideline asks us to view everything in our possession as something precious that is on loan to us.  And for the time that it is on loan to us, we are asked to care for it.

The bounty of the earth is for the community, not the individual.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

Slow Flow Yoga – 8.10.14 (The Role of the Ego)

I just finished filling in for our Sunday Slow Flow Yoga class at Yoga Mindset this rainy afternoon.  I had taken a nap this afternoon and was a bit groggy leading up to 3pm, but the energy that each of the fifteen beautiful folks that showed up was contagious!  It was fitting that we took a vacation during our class since the current state of the Triad is pretty overcast and depressing.  There are a lot of folks that can attest that I don’t take enough time in my life for vacations.  I am a very routine-oriented person that keeps a structured calendar and fill it up quite quickly.  When I started putting Yoga into my life a number of years ago, I forced myself to start looking at life differently.  A vacation allows for a renewal and an opportunity to shut off the repetition of our busy lives.  In doing so, it provides a chance to reflect and dig deeper into our consciousness.  The memories and thoughts that we unpack can be joyful, discouraging and any other possible emotion.  In that process, we exemplify humility.  We’re not perfect beings and it is okay to acknowledge our successes and our failures.  Have you taken a moment to unpack lately?

The Role of the Ego.

The ego is a function of the mind that organizes itself into “I.” The ego is not a bad thing; without the ego, we wouldn’t exist.  The ego takes an event that the senses bring into awareness and makes it personal.

Where things get messy is when the ego forgets that its function is to organize the self and begins to believe itself to be the boss.  When this happens, we get stuck in the “I” of being separate, and we make our belief system the model of reality.  Our belief system is not wrong or right, but it is constraining; when we identify with these constraints, we run on old habits and we consent to being less than we are.

As we unpack the boxes of our belief system, strong and often painful emotions can be released in the process.  These feelings are often related to memories that we have unconsciously used to structure our reality.  Similar to returning from a trip, where we have to take each item out of our suitcase and look at it as we unpack, we have to look at each box and the hidden emotions of experience that led to each layer of protective wrapping around ourselves.

The path of growth is not a straight line; it does not look anything like what we think it should look like.  In fact, often our belief system of what growth looks like, is the very thing that stops our growth.  What we think we know stops our inquiry.  So have a beginner’s mind; to know that we don’t know.  It is this stance of humility that opens the door to learning and revelation.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

 

Power Yoga – 8.2.14 (Tapas – Cooking Class)

  We moved our usual Saturday power Yoga class from 4:30pm to 10:00am.  There was a great group of yogis that attended.  I absolutely love power classes and the depth, intensity and mental focus that they require.  In having some fun on a rainy, overcast Saturday morning, we transformed the studio into a kitchen (sort of, ha!).  With the normal 76-80 degree temperature in the studio plus a good number of bodies, it was as warm as an oven letting us “cook.”  There are lots of fun metaphors when equating the Yoga asanas to the art of cooking.  Students were encouraged to think on their favorite meal as they were preparing it.  Allowing the heat to produce something elegant, filled with nourishment and tasty.  The end product is worth the journey.

  Now that cooking didn’t just extend to the physical body.  The fire may consume the physical body, but it brings a new depth to cleansing the mind.  Take a moment to read our meditation below.  Thanks and have a great day!

Tapas:  Self Discipline

  Tapas literally means “heat,” and can be translated as catharsis, austerities, self-discipline, spiritual effort, change, tolerance, or transformation.  Tapas has the sense of “cooking” ourselves in the fire of discipline to transform ourselves into something else.  It is our determined effort to become someone of character and strength.  Much like cooking an egg denatures the egg, changing it into a different structure, Tapas eventually changes our nature, turning us into a cauldron that can withstand any of life’s challenges.  Tapas is the day to day choice to burn non-supportive habits of the body and mind, choosing to forsake momentary pleasures for present and future rewards.

  There is a bumper sticker which states, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”  We can chuckle all we want, but there is great truth to this statement.  Tapas can take us to the place where all of our resources are used up, where there is nothing left but weakness, where all of our so-called “props” have been taken away.  It is in this barren place, where we have exhausted all that we have and all that we are, that new strength is shaped and character is born if we choose to fearlessly open ourselves to the experience.  It is perhaps the greatest gift life could offer us.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

 

Winston Salem RoadRunners – 7.23.14 (Dan O’Brien – Olympic Decathlon)

Last night was my last session with the boys before they head out to Iowa this coming weekend.  You could tell that they were anxious, excited, nervous along with their usual playfulness.  There was such a great energy about them because you could tell they were ready to find that connection between their sore bodies and their over stimulated minds.  

We started off with a five minute meditation that focused on the present moment.  One key aspect of such an important event is that there will be ups and downs during the week in Iowa.  Driving out to an area you’ve never been to before, having twenty to twenty-five heats of eight runners per event, and being in front of large crowds is pretty intimidating.  Those stressors can lead to the mind holding the body back.  Countless times we’ve seen major athletes make key mistakes during the most pressure-filled situations.  I wanted the boys to realize that in the present there are opportunities.  An opportunity to run the best start you could possibly have … right at that moment.  It does not matter how great or how poor your first race went.  How amazing can this moment be?

There is more to some of the visualizations and meditations that I’ve put below.  I’m extremely excited for the boys at the opportunity they have next week to shock peers, friends, family and others with their genuine focus on the present task.  They’re going to be amazing!  And not because of anything I’ve done, but because they’re learning how important it is to take care of their body and mind.  They have the physical body to crush the competition and are learning quickly how important it is to bring the mind along for the race as well.  Go RoadRunners!

Dan O’Brien – LINK

  • 5 time US Champion Decathlon
  • 3 time World Champion Decathlon
  • 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist- Decathlon
  • 1992-1999 World Record-Decathlons (8891 pts.)

“I meditate and do yoga. I also have relaxation response tapes I listen to,” he says. “I am looking for a more spiritual balance, and I absolutely think it has helped me — both competitively and with my attention deficit.”

One of the foundations of O’Brien’s holistic therapy is better nutrition — the key ingredient being blue-green algae. “I take it every day, especially when I am training,” he says. “I absolutely feel better. I feel more focused without the extreme highs and lows. Plus, it has digestive benefits.”

O’Brien, who says he isn’t the best cook, also hired a chef to prepare healthier food.

“We’re eating salads three times a week and vegetarian meals at least once a week,” admits O’Brien. “I believe your body tells you what it needs. I also avoid big meals late in the day.”