3 Tips on Learning to Release What Weighs You Down

let_goYesterday my friend from Inner Sanctuary: BE Inspired and I led the most amazing workshop called New Year|New Moon Let Go and Look Forward.  I planned the yoga session on releasing and unwinding while Lindsey planned the most amazing meditation and journaling session.  With just a few short phrases designed to make us think about what our worst moment of last year was and why we felt that way, I was able to see what I feared most about the situation.  I don’t mind telling you that the worst moment was actually learning that a friend’s cancer came back.  She asked us to think about the feelings surrounding that and write down a few words to describe it.  Previous to this, Lindsey asked us to write down our best moment and words to describe it.  My best moment was completing yoga teacher training.

So Lindsey asked us if we saw parallels…were the words on the opposite end of each other?  I immediately saw the connection for me.  As most of you know, I have battled invisible disease for a long time.  I know what it feels like to get bad news from a doctor and to think that there is no hope, even if it’s just that split second where they tell you the news.  So for that split second when D told me her news, I felt what she felt.  Okay, maybe longer than that because that is what I do…but after that, I was like no.  The opposite feeling is my best moment.  I felt strong and healthy.  I knew that was what I wanted for my friend and I knew that the feelings surrounding that were what my group of friends worked so hard on trying to create for D.

It was very powerful for me to see what exactly I want to create for my circle of friends as well as myself.  It was powerful for me to see why I had to let go of friendships that didn’t want the same for me last year as well as why I had to let go of any residual feelings surrounding feeling weak or hopeless.  I was now in the zone to create the opposite.  The circle of women yesterday were trying so hard to get past whatever was blocking them that I knew that’s why I had to let go of the past.  Whatever is meant to be in your life will find a way.  I believe that.

3 Tips on Learning to Release What Weighs You Down:

  1. Envision the BEST version of you and what that looks like and feels like.  Lindsey had us look into a mirror and see the worst version of ourselves and the best.  We forgave that worst version of ourselves and thanked her for getting us to the point where we are today.  It was empowering to forgive her.  We then embraced the best version possible of ourselves.  We allowed her to step fully into the light and move forward with us.
  2. Explore the feelings behind what is weighing you down.  Not the actual thing, but what is it about those feelings that is holding you back?  Why are you holding onto those things?  Do you think you can imagine a better outcome?  It is too late for that now, so release the feelings, but instead work towards the opposite of how that made you feel.  If you need to, thank that situation for whatever good it taught you and use it to move forward from that place of pain or unwanted emotion.
  3. Make a new plan for the best version of you.  This is the part where you really have to be diligent in what you allow into your space.  This is YOUR space and sometimes things are easier said than done.  I know this.  You might not be able to control the outside situation, but you can control your thoughts and how you react to things.  If you are about to react in a way that would not propel you forward, as I have said in the past, try hard to make a different plan.  An example would be one I use for my yoga students…come to the mat and the rest will take care of itself.  Don’t worry about what you CAN’T do.  Instead focus on what you CAN do!

I received a wonderful compliment yesterday after my yoga flow.  I wasn’t sure what the new student was going to say, but she said is that how you always teach yoga?  Me: Yes?  She then proceeded to tell me she loved how I integrated the entire mind/body connection into the class.  I truly believe that yoga is a very powerful healing tool and it teaches us to move in a flowing meditation right on our mats.  We learn NOT to be concerned about what the person is doing right near us.  Not to be concerned about body image, or our abilities.  I fully believe in focusing on what you can do and to take that knowledge and move forward into the best version of you for this coming year.  I know that you can do this!

For more on the mind/body connection, read about my 4 Weeks to Wellness course here.  NEW!  See the Head|Heart|Health tab for more help.

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3 Simple Exercises to Keep You Fit

I know that everyone is always excited in January and ready to change themselves.  By February, you are slightly less excited.  And usually, by March, most people have fizzled out.  What about if you could just improve on 3 exercises?  That’s it.  Just 3 things to do to keep you going.

3 Simple Exercises to Keep You Fit:

  1. Plank pose, which is called kumbhakasana in Sanskrit, can help you to engage your core.  When I first started yoga, mind you, I could not hold much weight on my wrists, so I assumed it was my wrists, typing, etc.  Just all around bad posture that made it difficult.  I will not forget how difficult the variation of side plank was for me.  I could not do it.  So in order to get better with a plank, here is what you need to do.  Begin on all fours, and make sure your hands are under your shoulders.  The key is the breath as this is the start of a push-up.  So in order to show you what I mean, here is a photo.  The best thing about learning to plank is that you WILL get better the more you practice it.
  2. Using a Kettlebell.  I read this article about 4 years ago in a magazine on the benefits of a kettlebell and I just had to try it.  I did the kettle bell swings, and I combined it with squats.  It was better for my back, but the kettlebell did take some getting used to.  All in all it was easy to do at home whenever I needed to just get a few sets in.  But make sure to link breathing with it.  Always, always link your breath to your routine.
  3. Boat pose.  In my yoga classes, my students always groan during my core section.  But they have groaned less and less and been more focused as I told them I had a C-SECTION and ALL my stomach muscles were cut and I couldn’t even do one boat to yacht…as a friend called it, at first.  I am not kidding.  When I started my journey over 2 years ago, everything was just out of whack.  I can now start in boat pose, and use a block between my ankles and hike up to touch it.  That is my boat to yacht variation.  If you want to start out slow, use your sitz bones and lean back, but keep your hands under your knees on the back of your thighs and lean back.  Keep your hands there until you can extend your legs.  It’s okay to stay at the beginning of the pose.  I did for a long time.

Side-plank variation as mentioned above:

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If you want to know more about my 4 Weeks to Wellness, check out this link.  Or if you are interested in my other coaching offerings, you can read more under “Work with Me”.

 

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Awakening People Post!

Hey guys!! Most of you know my story in bits and pieces, but I recently tried to pull it together for a submission and guess what?  It’s being posted tonight!  Awakening People is the Facebook page, but here is the link below:

http://www.awakeningpeople.com/6-things-i-learned-from-fighting-invisible-diseases.html

Thank you so much for reading ^^^  muah.

 

 

Top 10 yoga tips for beginners.

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Starting a yoga practice?  Read on.

If you are reading this because you are about to start a new yoga practice, welcome.  Before you run out and buy a new mat, have a look at a few of my suggestions.  I have been “practicing” yoga for years, but until this year, I was not serious about my practice…if that makes sense.  I am completing my 200 hour Vinyasa yoga teacher training in June, and I wanted to pass on some tips that can really motivate and help you stick to your practice.

  1. Buy a good mat.  If you are looking for a yoga mat, there are literally thousands out there.  Before you buy one, see if you can use the ones at the studio to get comfortable with them, then ask what thickness or brand they use.  I prefer a thicker mat, like this one << unless you like hot yoga, and I have this one.
  2. Find a good studio.  If you are uncomfortable when you go there the first time, give it another chance.  If you are not comfortable again, try another studio.  You want the vibe of the studio to be completely welcoming.  They should show you around, tell you where things are located, and basically be helpful from the moment you walk in.  My studio is awesome about that.  It really is the little things that mean a great deal to me.
  3. Respect your body’s knowledge.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Don’t be afraid to tell the teacher before class if a particular area is causing you some discomfort.  That way the teacher will know ahead of time and can give you a few modifications.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others.  This might seem like a no brainer, but sadly, it’s not.  You constantly have to re-align yourself to focus on you and you alone.  What Mr. Yoga Guru at the front of the class can do has no bearing on your life whatsoever.  Great, he can fold in half like a pretzel and then stand up with his hands.  Enjoy the moments that you have with your progress.  Where you are is very important.  It’s the start of a great practice. 
  5. Buy comfortable, not see through, clothes.  Please don’t feel you have to clothe yourself in head to toe designer yoga wear.  But at the same time, do a quick mirror check to make sure it’s not thin as tracing paper when you bend over.  As lovely as your under garments might be, heck as lovely as mine might be, I prefer my underoos to stay hidden.  I don’t spend a lot, but I make sure my tank tops stay in place and my leggings are not sheer. Note: I use the Yoga Club.  Seriously.  You can’t go wrong with how cool the clothes are, and a box comes to you for 60% off retail!!
  6. Don’t take yourself too seriously.  My friends would say this is pretty easy for me, but if you step out of a pose, or erm fall off the surf board during SurfSet, as long as you aren’t hurt, just smile and get back up.  We are lifelong learners and it’s important to find an inner sense of humor with this process.
  7. Breathe.  Sometimes, I feel like I am breathing the loudest in the room.  I take the phrase “ocean breath” seriously when my teachers taught me how to breathe.  It has steadied my entire practice.  Ujjayi breath is a 3 part breath and I find it very calming.  Whatever kind of breathing you use, just remember to listen for your breath as you steady yourself.
  8. Make your practice a habit.  If you make a regular practice of yoga at least three times a week, it will be more beneficial to you in the long run.  You will become more flexible as the weeks progress and you will be able to flow into the poses without thinking about it.  You can even do 15 minutes of Sun Salutations at home in the mornings. 
  9. Communicate with your teacher.  Stay after class for a second if you think you didn’t catch just how to do a pose or if something didn’t feel right.  You can ask them to watch you do downward facing dog for a minute and ask them to go over the most important tips for really getting into that pose.  It seems so simple, but if you don’t press into the knuckle mounds of your hand evenly you might walk away with sore wrists.  Take the time to ask.  It’s really okay.  You can also read my pin about how to avoid wrist pain.
  10. Don’t rush.  Take time to really slow down for yoga.  Be present.  Stay for Savasana…the resting time.  Focus on your breathing.  Check in with your body.  And of course, it’s fine to congratulate yourself for doing the best that you can.  You did it!  Repeat Namaste when your teacher says it at the end as a form of respectful closing to thank your teacher for sharing their energy with you. 

Yoga Sutras

 

 

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Motivational Monday…right action

So what do I mean by “right action”?  I want to start out with this little introduction:

Ethics (or Moral Philosophy) is concerned with questions of how people ought to act, and the search for a definition of right conduct (identified as the one causing the greatest good) and the good life (in the sense of a life worth living or a life that is satisfying or happy).            The word “ethics” is derived from the Greek “ethos” (meaning “custom” or “habit”). Ethics differs from morals and morality in that ethics denotes the theory of right action and the greater good, while morals indicate their practice.

In yoga, when we have discussed “right action”, it allows us to make the right choice for now.  In that moment.  I am quite literally doing what feels agreeable to myself in that moment.  Whether it is to hold a pose longer, to try the harder variations when the teacher says to move on, or to listen to my body if I feel I am not quite ready to move forward.

The other night, I was reminded of how far I have progressed in 5 months.  During class, I didn’t take a certain pose to the last possible variation.  I was afraid to try it because I wasn’t quite sure of the placement of my arms and shoulders…and how people were moving forward.  There are times people appear to flow effortlessly into the final pose.  You know how the teacher says “You are in the pose now, but if you want to move forward…”, well I do want to move forward.  So, after class I asked how the pose looks as you are moving into it.  Two of my friends were there and are able to move on so they showed me this pose Bird of Paradise.  I was quite surprised when one said to take the washcloth, and try it, and I actually got my shoulders right.

Well, let me remind you if you are new, way back in the past blog archives here, you will read about months I couldn’t move my shoulder and how manipulating my shoulder-blade at all was almost impossible.  So when I am in yoga, I don’t exactly always allow my right action to move forward as I am somewhat blocked by memories of pain.  Whether that pain was brought on by the flare up of Epstein-Barr Virus, Hashimoto’s, or fibromyalgia, I no longer care.  My “habit” if you will, was to stop because of intense pain, but the memory of it is still there.  My new habit, or right action, that really aligns with my practice now, is to stay after yoga, ask about that “hard” pose, see how it’s done, and move forward at my own pace.

Live it

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Tips for living with pain…

Oh great.  Here is yet another blog article trying to tell me how to live with pain.  What does this writer know?  This writer lives with 6 invisible diseases…and all of them have caused pain.  Hereditary Hemochromatosis (iron overload), Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (sensitivity to light, skin blisters), Hashimoto’s Thyroid (autoimmune…caused extreme stomach issues), Epstein-Barr Virus (felt entire vertebral column flare-up), Depression from pain, and Fribromyalgia (when anyone touched my skin, it felt like a slap).

Over the last three years, the pain continued to get worse.  I opted not to be on the pharmaceutical drugs due to the fact that HH is a genetic condition and no doctor could tell me for sure if the drugs would make my liver worse.  So pain it was.  But I wasn’t going to stop there.  I continued my search for things to help me cope that were going to work with my body naturally.  What did I find?

  1. Turmeric milk.  Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory properties…due to the active compound curcumin.
  2. Relief.  Building on that, I take this product because it has ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, but even more than that it also includes turmeric root extract, as well as yucca root, which has long been used for osteoarthritis as well as inflammation of the intestine.  Ah-ha.  Hmm.  Remember my stomach pain before?  Better within weeks of getting on this.
  3. Restorative yoga.  Yoga has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol.  Do you think I might have been stressed when I moved if my whole body felt like it was on fire?  Yes.  Just a little.  The difference in restorative though, is that you get to use comfy bolsters, blocks and blankets.  So we made little nests, and sat in that pose for 5-15 minutes depending on what it was.  I had a hard time at first, but learned to let go of my expectations of what my body used to be able to do.  The poses became second nature.
  4. Vinyasa yoga for back pain.  I graduated to Vinyasa…honestly, only because a friend pulled me in the direction my mind was afraid to go.  When she suggested restorative, I gave it a try.  When she said that I could do Vinyasa and possibly teach one day, my mind shut her down due to the pain.  “She has no idea how much moving hurts.”  Said the mind…but the heart wanted to get better.  Thankfully, it’s pretty strong, and said “Let’s do this thing!!!”  And so I did.  Almost 200 hours later…the girl on fire.  Literally.
  5. Meditation-like thoughts.  When I felt myself go into the dark place of pain, I would literally stop and say things to myself like “I am breathing in.  I am breathing out.”  I didn’t come up with this on my own.  I read part of a Thich Nhat Hanh’s You are Here, except at the time, I didn’t want to be there.  ha.  So I never finished it.  But it did teach me to focus my breathing.
  6. Friends checking in on you.  This part became difficult.  Not many people were in this category.  When you are in pain, people slip away.  They do.  It’s not their fault, but it is in the human nature to be uncomfortable when you don’t know what to do.  Most don’t climb down in the hole with you.  Watch this short video to get the full meaning of “The Power of Empathy”.  Rarely can a response make something better, says Dr. Brown, what makes something better is a connection.

So my friends, I leave you with my connection to you.  I am in the hole with you.  I have climbed down there.  I will hug you.  I will give you that love and connection to your pain, but the next step is on you.  The best advice I have for you is to read more about my 4 Weeks to Wellness course and take that as your next step.  The program was created based off what I did to get my life back, and it truly and honestly saved me.

Read moreNew, “Work with Me” tab has more options to help you from home!

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Motivational Monday…for fibro

One side of my body is wearing a tightly laced corset today.  During my morning yoga, a spasm went from my left shoulder to this spot in my back that is as tight as a rubber band pulled to snapping point.  In my head, I tried desperately to push the thoughts of discomfort away as it was the first part of my yoga practice this morning, but little wisps of thought already went past my carefully laid defenses.  I focused intently on the voice of my instructor and pushed past the spot.  Listening to her speak, and breathing.  Always breathing and focusing on the breath.  I have become so focused on the breath that it does allow me to get through my practice even when pain sets in.

You see, I am trying to prove a ridiculous point…to myself.  I am not on any of the drugs that doctors prescribe for fibromyalgia due to my underlying genetic disease hemochromatosis.  One year ago in February, a rheumatologist told me he would be nervous to put me on medicine that could perhaps harm my liver.  That was enough for me to decide to stay the course of all-natural supplements and work through immense pain using a series of steps I researched.  You are welcome to read the tab on the top of this blog called Vitalize You.  Those are some of the steps I took.  I also enlisted in the help of a full functional medicine approach, and used Applied Kinesiology, which I have touched on here.

This last step is more intense yoga than I thought was possible for me.  You can sit there and come up with one million and one reasons why it won’t work.  But if you can only come up with one reason, and one reason only, of why it will work, then take the chance.  That one reason is this…what have you got to lose?  No seriously.  I’ll be in pain you say.  Ummm, hello.  You already are.  I can’t move much right now.  Of course you can’t…because you don’t.  It will get worse..before it will get better.  Yes, but at least it will get better.  And trust me on this, you have to believe it will.

So today, in the car home from yoga, I thought, well that could have gone better for my body.  But so what…I went.  I showed up.  I was there.  I almost cried in the car and then I said to my head, stop this.  Think of where you were a year ago.  No really.  Stop and think.  You moved like an old woman, you were in immense pain, and you saw no end to that pain…ever.  Today, you were in pain in a few areas, true, but you were working your muscles.  You were doing things and you felt good afterward…just not as good as you hoped.  The knot didn’t go away like you thought, but it is loosening.  Do. Not. Give. Up.

Let go

Releasing the outcome…

So I had a post all ready to go yesterday in my head…but here’s the thing.  I feel like the only motivational thing I did yesterday was pry myself up off the couch, take a shower and say to myself, self, get out the door to yoga…ignore that it is cold and rainy and extremely dark.  JUST go.  Then I said to my husband, “If I tell you I don’t feel like going to yoga because I ache/hurt, tell me to go anyway.  No matter what I say.”  I am positively sure this will come back to haunt me.

So I knew I made the right decision when I started to release the pain in my neck, shoulders, lower back and hips.  I absolutely love restorative yoga for my aches and the slow, no pressure, use as many props as you need to hold the pose feeling goes with fibromyalgia.  I am encouraging as many people who need healing to go to this type of class.  By healing I mean any kind of healing.  Seriously.  But you have to go all in.  You can’t try to fool yourself.  You can’t make excuses.  It doesn’t work that way.

So I have my calendar set up with my appointments.  I have my yoga nights on there…and soon my yoga weekends.  I can’t let my mind stop me from doing something I know is good for my body.  I can’t let weather, aches, pains, and any other excuses stop me.  I have made a decision and I have a goal.  I have to release the outcome as I have done my part.  Small steps people.  Small. Steps.

ReleaseAuthor’s note:  This post was the start of my yoga journey, and I have now recovered almost full mobility and have gained much strength and knowledge.  I took all of my resources and created a course just for you, even if this post is where you are right now.  Please note, that for the life of the course, I will be adding extra resources and you only pay the price it is right now when you sign up.  You only have to decide if you want the bonus pack.  Much love to you!  ~Aimee

Here’s to you…New Year’s You!

New youHey there friends.  I’d like your help.  We are working on a way to change ourselves.  Really and truly in the New Year.  Not resolutions that can be broken, but a plan.  A real plan.  On my Facebook page for the blog I am making a few posters about ways to help yourself, but I want you to sit quietly and think about all the ways you are blocking yourself from your greatest potential.  Whether it is weight loss, healthy eating, negative thinking, depression and/or anxiety, excuses for why you don’t leave the house, excuses for why you don’t exercise, well you name it, you and only you know how to change yourself.  The fact is, we can go to all the therapists in the world, but until we are ready to make that change, that commitment, we are simply going to continue hoping what they tell us will work one day.

Wake up and open the curtains.  Remember my last post about getting more light?  Hint, you had to watch the video I posted.  Clean your room and get rid of anything you are not using.  It makes you feel better.  I don’t know why or how, but it does.  Make ROOM in your life for things you need.  You are getting rid of things you no longer need in your life.  I guess it could be the symbolism, but it really does work.  Fluff your comforter, change your sheets.  Go to bed earlier.  I personally know how hard this one is.  I am erm a night owl.  Nevertheless, I am going to be shutting down 30 minutes earlier and working on a new routine.

Get your refrigerator ready for good food.  Throw out the Christmas fruitcake…no not your relatives, the sweets you still have.  Wash and prep veggies for the week.  Make your list of smoothie items or simply use these greens I use everyday.  I use berry but you can try orange or whatever you like.  It actually is cheaper than buying all the veggies to throw in the blender.  I also take my supplements for my pain and drink turmeric milk or tea.  I immediately change my thinking even if I am in pain to thinking that the tea or whatever I am using is helping me.  It really is helping but I try hard not to concentrate on what is wrong.  I work daily at this.  Do NOT dwell in the negatives.  Let the negative thoughts pass by, but don’t stay there.

I am also working on a yoga plan as well as a getting out of the house more plan.  This is very important if you have fibromyalgia and tend to sit too much.  Stop dwelling.  Just stop.  Make a plan.  If I can do it, you can too.  So let’s go.  2015.  It’s almost here.  Move more.  Eat better.  Do good things.  No resolutions you won’t keep, but goals.  Gather your supplies, your buddies, if you don’t have buddies, get out of the house and make some.  NO excuses!  Ok, pep talk over…and today wasn’t even Motivational Monday.

Note:  see the top tab on working with me and my new for 2017 group coaching option.

 

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A tribe…

Sometimes I have to mentally prepare myself for things.  As I mentioned, I was going back to yoga.  I looked up the benefits of yoga for fibromyalgia and decided the benefits far outweighed any residual pain I might feel.  I know that my body doesn’t cooperate like others, and I know I have to take it easy.

It felt good to pull out my old yoga pants…you know, the ones that most of us wear as “comfy” pants.  Well, I bought mine years ago for hot yoga, and haven’t worn them since November.  Anyway, I arrived a bit early to check out the scene.  I was apprehensive at first, because at my old studio, it was very quiet.  I walked in and saw some little tomatoes on the check-in desk.  The girl behind the counter said she didn’t know where they came from, but I could help myself.  Another woman arrived and took one and said hi to me.  She asked if I was new, and I said yes.  It felt welcoming.  No one said a word to me at the other place when they walked in.  It was almost like we couldn’t talk.

Anyway, I was given a little tour, told where things were, and I met the instructor.  It was a “HE” and not a she.  Side note…I looked him up before the class because I was almost thinking I couldn’t go to a “MAN” class.  hahaha.  Seriously.  I did.  I liked the look of him and what he said on the page, so off I went anyway.  How dumb is that?  It’s not.  It made perfect sense in my head.  Man class=harder to pretend that I can hold all the poses.  Not so.  Man class=no judgement.  Bingo!!

Where was I?  Oh the class.  The lady was already in there putting her mat down and a guy.  Wait a guy?  It’s ok.  We are not being judged.  There is no judgement.  Ohmmmm.  I started talking to the lady and somehow my business came up.  I mentioned I had fibromyalgia, did not open the bag of crazy to the other things, just the one, and said I was treating myself with all-natural supplements and heard yoga helped.  In reality, I am grateful my friend reached out to me.  She owns the studio and actually invited me to come in.  Anyway, the guy was there and somehow we brought him into our conversation.  It was nice.

When he mentioned he just had a cancerous tumor removed from his ummm brain, I was in shock.  We can ALL do the hard things as Glennon would say and I was glad he was there.  He looked a bit young, but I know cancer does NOT discriminate.  Old, young, whatever.  I felt less alone and more like I was definitely meant to be there.  I mentioned my research into all-natural supplements and he said his doctor didn’t say anything to him about that…yet.  I am adding the yet.  I mentioned my favorite thing, the greens, and at the end of the class three people asked me about it.

I am fortunate my friend reached out to me.  I felt connected to these people, her tribe, already.  She and her husband had a vision.  They called it Tribal Yoga.  A year has gone by since her husband passed in a small plane accident, and she is running a business, a full-time job, and being a mom to their beautiful baby boy.  She wears many hats just as we all do.  We have to make time for ourselves and come back to what’s important to us.  We have to be here for each other.

Tribe