why you should write down your blessings.

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So, glass Ball Jars are super trendy right now. Totally ‘hipstipod old 001 (46)er chic.’  I have a million of them in my home.  Not because I’m trendy… but because I’ve recently been nerding out about the possible dangers of plastic and also I inherited 5 boxes of glass jars from my Grandma, who was an avid ‘canner’. (I made that word up… but you know what I mean.  She loved to can green beans, apple butter, peaches, etc.)

I’m using them for everything: bulk dry goods storage, water glasses, spare change holders, holiday decorations, bobby pin containers, you name it.

I’ve found a new use for the beautiful, homey, endearing glassware: Blessing Jars.  Like you, I’m great at starting a new ‘life-changing’ habit in January– writing in a Gratitude Journal, or charting my daily water intake, or recording the minutes I spend walking during the day.  And then, of course, the paper get tucked away in my files and I remember it again in June when I’m cleaning out my desk.  Perfect.

Despite my inability to maintain a routine of writing things down for the sake of accountability, I think the act of writing words on paper is decisively powerful.  When you write things down, energy becomes action.  I recently read this article which taught me that the act of writing leads to physical and mental health benefits including:

  • improved mood and sense of well-being
  • decreased stress and anxiety levels
  • lower blood pressure
  • better memory and sleep.

All of these sound like winners.  Yes, please.  Writing is good for you and is one small habit that can lead to a life filled with happiness and health (similar to eating more veggies–try my celery and pear slaw– and getting more exercise- try my yoga classes!)

New Year’s Resolutions are difficult to keep. Remember this post?  Don’t make this a resolution.  Make this a 30 second challenge for your health and your happiness.

Find a small piece of paper.  Write done ONE thing that is a blessing to you and put it in a glass jar.  Do this every day.  Or just whenever you remember.  As the days go by, your glass jar will quietly fill.  One day, you’ll look at it, and realize that your life, like your jar, is FULL of BLESSINGS.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”  – ray bradbury

Cheers to being full.

Happy writing,

-lisa

5 benefits of meditation.

“Meditating” is still fairly misunderstood.  From the outside, it totally looks like someone is just sitting still.  Thinking about who-knows-what, trying not to slouch over, hoping to find inner-peace or whatever.  Yes, stillness is usually involved (doesn’t have to be! you meditate while walking) but that doesn’t mean that NOTHING is happening.  In fact, active meditation is very… well, active.  As neuroscience evolves, we are now able to see, quantify, and measure what is happening inside the brain and inside the body during  meditation.  Techniques that have been practiced for hundreds of years are now being ‘proven’ to have lasting health benefits.  And guess what!  Meditating can make you happier!  :)  Read on for 5 benefits of meditation.  (There are many more!)

1. Your Happiness. The more you learn to be ‘in the present moment’ the easier it is to feel content with what you have.  The easier it is to remember that the only reasonable response to life is gratitude.  The easier it is to be happy, and to cherish that happiness.  Read Sharon Salzberg’s “Real Happiness” for a detailed look at this phenomenon.

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“The more you learn to be ‘in the present moment’ the easier it is to feel content with what you have.”

 

 2. Your Attention and Focus. The first way we learn to meditate is through dharana, or single-pointed concentration.  Our brain is always working over-time, and we are accustomed to jumping around from thought to thought.  Meditation, even for 3 minutes, teaches us to be sensitive to the continuity of awareness.  Read Learn to Meditate: Your Way for some ideas on how to learn concentration.

3. Your Immune System. You got it.  Meditation can actually make you healthier! Studies have found that people who meditate can enhance their own immune system by decreasing stress responses.  In addition, people who meditate have increased antibodies, which are integral to the immune system response to outside agents.  Lastly, activating the parts of the brain which act as command centers for the immune system. Check out ecoinstitute for more articles.

4. Your Brain.  A recent Harvard University study found that the brains of people who meditated actually showed changes in the brain area (called the amygdala) which plays an important role in the management of anxiety and stress symptoms.  The study also found that meditation can increase the gray matter within the brain… that’s a good thing because your brain areas associated with self-awareness, introspection and compassion are strengthened!  Read more here.

 5. Your Spiritual Well-Being. Contemplative practices like prayer and meditation have long been an integral piece for developing a spiritual inner stillness.  It is in this moment of stillness that we can best commune with our sense of self, of Divinity, of creation as Divine.  Be well.   Read Tich Naht Hanh’s “You are Here.”

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when you meditate, areas in your brain that are associated with self-awareness, introspection and compassion are strengthened!

 

New to Meditation?  Great!  Check out this article: “Learn to Meditate, Your Way” to learn more.

Happy Meditating,

-lisa

 

 

how to rid yourself of the ‘Case of the Mondays.’

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Russell Ash being tired

classic “Case of the Mondays.”

Look at this guy.  He’s a got a classic Case of the Mondays. 

(Don’t ask me who coined that term.  I’m not entirely sure, but I presume it’s a combination of my dear friend Brittany Hettrick Jensen and the movie Office Space… Either way: generally hilarious.)  Seriously.  Look at this guy!  He can’t even hold his head up! 

Monday is actually my favorite day of the week.  I posted something about this on Facebook a few months ago and the reaction was shocking.  “Seriously? Who ARE you??” my friend Katie asked, apparently appalled that Mondays are my absolute favorite.

Well, for starters, some of my most joyful/ joy filled/ Spirit healing yoga classes happen every Monday.  I work with these kiddos:

kids yoga class

these kiddos are always so excited to have FUN doing yoga together!

(look at their cute downward facing doggies with wagging tails!), who are exuberant reminders that yoga heals hearts, strengthens bodies, and is downright FUN.

(Also one of my favorite bands, by the way.  Whoever decided to title their band ‘FUN’ with capital letters is a genius in positive thinking.)

The kids at The Children’s Place KC, an early childhood therapy and education center in Kansas City which focuses on serving young victims of trauma, are always excited for Yoga with Ms. Lisa.  So excited, in fact, that they will push each other out of the way to get to their yoga mat.  (We’ve moved past that now… practicing ahimsa and self-control and such… but it’s the thought that counts.)

After this class, I work with the Staff and Teachers at The Children’s Place.  I transform their basement meeting room into a candle-lit sanctuary for renewal and rest after a trying day in a workplace that demands immense amounts of presence, patience, and compassion for its young clients.  In return, these yoga classes create a space for the ‘givers’ to receive presence, patience, and compassion.  (And sometimes sneak a ten minute nap.)  This one hour of yoga, conscious breathing, and resting provides an ‘centering time’ for Staff and Teachers to take care of themselves first, so that they can take care of others second.

One of my favorite authors, Andrew Harvey, writes about tending our own inner flame of health and joy as a way of inspiring health and joy in others around us.  A practice like yoga which empowers and ‘centers’ you is essential; we all run out of energy, we all get cranky, we all get frustrated, and we all get tired.  We have to take care of ourselves first and then we can take care of others.  He writes:

 “If we are going to inspire others, it will be by the kindness, balance, truth, and radiance of our presence…by the health and joy we radiate.  In order to bring such radiance to others, you need to tend its subtle and tender flame in yourself.” -a harvey, The Hope

So, why are Mondays my favorite?  I spend most of the day tending flames of radiance, kindness, balance and truth.  (I also take my Russell Clive on walks, practice my two hour Ashtanga ritual at dawn, and teach the best candlelight Vinyasa class at Westport Yoga KC. I’m serious when I say Mondays are the BEST.)

Not everyone has a Monday schedule like mine.  I get that.  I’m grateful that all of you AREN’T yoga teachers, otherwise no one would come to my classes. :)  But I want to give YOU, my readers/students/friends/family an opportunity to rid yourself of the Case of the Mondays.  Starting in February 2015, I’m committing to bringing you #MeditationThoughtMondays.

View More: http://janamariephotos.pass.us/lisa-ash-yoga

One thought.  One moment. One inspiration for tending the subtle flame of kindness, balance, truth, and radiance within yourself.  Read it.  Spend 60 seconds meditating on it.  Share it, pin it, snapchat it, Instagram it, (there are a MILLION social media outlets for sharing images these days and I don’t even know when and where #hashtags# are useful), but most importantly: pause for one moment.  Consider what a gift your Monday is.  Consider what a gift your job is.  Consider how you can turn your Monday into your favorite day.  Even if it is only for a Moment. 

Join me for #MeditationThoughtMondays.  You can follow me on Instagram, @ash_lisamarie or Follow this wordpress Blog (see below for the FOLLOW button).

Invite others to do the same.  I promise: you’ll get rid of the case of the Mondays.

See you on Monday,

-lisa

View More: http://janamariephotos.pass.us/lisa-ash-yoga

 

 

incredibly healthy! carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread recipe.

carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread recipe.

We bought a post-apocalypse-pack of canned pumpkin from Costco.  That fact alone should explain my fixation with everything pumpkin this winter.  I truly think if it’s below 40 degrees outside, something should be in the oven baking.  It’s been interesting finding, tweaking and inventing recipes using pumpkin, which is low in calories and ultra-nutritious. I’ve made pumpkin quiche, pumpkin scones, pumpkin curry, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes and now this, my new specialty: carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread (vegan!).

Feel free to add your special touches to this recipe: fold in pecans, cranberries, or raisins carrot pumpkin bread ingredfor extra crunch and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 C oat flour
  • 1/2 C oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 C shredded carrots
  • 3 tbsp milled flax mixed with 3 tbsp cold water (or you can use 3 eggs for a non-vegan version)
  • 3/4 C light brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 3/4 C packed pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C non-sweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 C walnuts

Procedure:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 and oil a 9 inch loaf pan with coconut oil.  (Place pan in oven as it heats to melt coconut oil so it will spread evenly across bottom and sides of pan.)

2. In a large bowl, stir together oat flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg.

3.  Mix in wet ingredients: carrots, flax, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and milk.  Gently stir until well mixed and pour into prepared pan.

4.  Press walnuts on top of loaf.

5.  Bake until the top is golden brown, about 50 to 55 minutes.  Let stand (it’s really delicious when it’s hot!) and enjoy a bite.  Save the rest for breakfast!

carrot pumpkin bread

vegan carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread. you’ll eat the whole loaf in one sitting…

 

You will love it!  Super moist, hearty, and filling.

Let me know what you think,

-lisa

Ashtanga Alignment Workshops: January 24 and January 31.

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Ashtanga Alignment: Primary Series Poses

Workshops: Saturdays January 25 and January 31

with Lisa Ash @ Maya Yoga

SOLD OUT

 Saturday January 25, 2015.  2:00-4:30: Standing Postures.

 Saturday January 31, 2015.  2:00-4:30: Seated Postures.

 Pricing: $35 for one workshop or $60 for both workshops (tax not included).

Do you have an Ashtanga Primary Series Practice but are still thinking: ‘I’m not sure where my body goes in this pose?’  This workshop is for YOU!

Are you new to the Ashtanga Primary Series Practice and still thinking: ‘I’m not sure where my body goes in this pose?’  This workshop is for YOU!

 In these two workshops, Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Lisa Ash will teach essential alignment of the essential Ashtanga Primary Series Poses with special focus on accommodations for your body and proper skeletal alignment for practicing with ease.

Recommended Reading: The Ashtanga Yoga Practice Manual by David Swenson.  Copies available for sale at Maya Yoga for $30.00 (tax not included).

 Location:

Maya Yoga

215 W 18th Street, KC MO

www.mayayoga.com

 

 Saturday January 25, 2015.  2:00-4:30: Standing Postures.

 Saturday January 31, 2015.  2:00-4:30: Seated Postures.

SOLD OUT