every day a gift: santosha

My natural inclination is to hit the ground running the moment my alarm goes off. And sometimes, I have to– teaching 6 am yoga classes means arriving at Westport Yoga KC at an indecent hour. 

But what I really crave is A Slow Morning. A morning that I can unwrap slowly, deliberately, with care and attention.

Years ago I was inspired by this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh and have held it close to my heart since. He says,

Every twenty-four hours is a tremendous gift to us. So we should all learn to live in a way that makes joy possible.”  

I’ve found that if I unwrap my morning slowly, like a precious gift, the possibility for joy, fulfillment and contentment increases exponentially. If I cherish my first stretch, spend an extra moment cuddling with Russell Clive, meditate first thing and drink my coffee slowly (from a real mug, not a travel mug), I start my day feeling tremendous contentment. I am ready to receive whatever the day has to offer.

It doesn’t mean that I’ll be HAPPY! every single moment of the rest of the day. Santosha, or contentment, is a difficult attitude to maintain. Because, let’s face it: happiness doesn’t always present itself tied up with a pretty ribbon every day. Some days go terribly wrong (hello, influenza B) and I’m frustrated, stressed and suffering.

Santosha is a possibility when I relinquish my expectations and choose instead to be grateful that I even get to open the gift of the day, regardless of what’s under the wrapping.

One way I increase my possibility for santosha is starting every morning in meditation– setting my intention that I’ll be open to receive. Whatever the day brings, I strive to stay open, grateful and aware of the preciousness of this day.

I hope this audio guided meditation helps you open to the possibilities of joy and santosha today.

“Open to Receive”

Happy Opening,

-lisa

Every twenty-four hours is a tremendous gift to us. So we should all learn to live in a way that makes joy possible.”  -TNH

how to be a successful adult.

I’ve been an adult for nearly a decade; which in no way entitles me to any authority on the matter, whatsoever… but actually I think I may have figured out a significant strategy to successful ‘adulting.’ (This, by the way, is its own hashtag…which makes me think my internet community must be overwhelmingly and alarmingly excited about pretending we know what we are doing as pretend adults.)

(so fun to be a real-life adult! photo cred: JanaMarie Photography)

I’ve presented this 3 pronged approach to a few friends lately; its been received reasonably well. I’ve been warned it is, perhaps, missing a few key elements regarding paying bills and car insurance and feeding oneself and her family, but I’m pretty sure I’m on to something.

So, my exhaustive list of 3 key actions: How to be a Successful Adult

1. Move things around. Moving things around makes me look so busy! And creative! And responsible! And people love it when things are in a new place. Trash, dust, towels, pictures, Kleenex boxes, water bottles, Ganesha statues, plants, dirty clothes, clean clothes, whatever! Move that stuff around, continuously and consistently, and you will totally look like you know what you’re doing.

2. Send a lot of e-mails. I have discovered that e-mailing is the most substantial indication of “doing work.” It makes me appear so important and communicative and ‘on it!’ It’s the best! Sometimes I send e-mails just to send e-mails…and then check them off my list.

3. Measure my success by how much fun I’m having and how quickly I can change my mindset from fear to love. Being serious is overrated. I’ve found that success in life, for me, means always choosing joy and learning not to compare myself to others. The more I love others, give to others, and affirm others, the more successful I am at building the life I love. It’s sometimes terrifying owning a business whose bottom line is contingent on students getting off work on time in the evenings, family schedules, personal energy levels and the conscious and sometimes difficult choice of attending a yoga class instead of a Sporting KC game. It’s sometimes terrifying owning a business in what now, for some unknown reason, seems like a ‘fad industry’ and there are yoga studios popping up on every corner. It’s sometimes terrifying when I think: Is this really a real-life job and do I have the energy to keep it going? But then I remember to measure my success by how much fun I’m having and how quickly I can change my mindset from fear to love.

And I choose to love my life. 

How do you measure your success? How can you change your mindset from fear to love? How do you choose to love life?

Happy adulting.

-lisa

overcoming obstacles of daily practice #MeditationThoughtMondays

obstacles

My friend Sara sent me a text begging for help. Her work schedule varies weekly, her wedding is approaching, and she has no time!  She’s missed all of my yoga classes for the past two weeks and could I help her develop a ‘yoga schedule’ to keep her accountable?  Which classes are best for her?  What does she do when she misses her favorite Tuesday night class?  How can she find time?

She’s not alone: we are quick to identify the obstacles preventing a daily yoga practice. The biggest one?  Time.

Every week requires a balancing act of life, work, family, and ‘fun-time’ activities.  And it also requires us to carve out hours for the not-so-fun-time-activities: cleaning the house, doing the laundry, getting the oil changed, heading to doctor appointments, etc.  etc.  etc.  The list goes on and on.  My advice is this: structure your day around your yoga practice.

Many people find time in the day to sit for hours and watch TV.  (No judgement here: I adore Office episode lunch breaks.)  However, many people do not find time in the day to sit for one minute and breathe with meaning.

The benefits of Yoga are multifaceted and abundant: strength, balance, agility, coordination, flexibility, peace of mind, lower blood pressure, healthier heart.  But most of all: life just gets better.  Life just feels better when we just spend one hour moving and breathing to connect with God.  But finding that one hour can be difficult. Over the years, I’ve helped students organize ‘training plans’ for their yoga practice.   Here are my tips:

  1. Plan on practicing early in the morning. Waiting until the evening = procrastination.  You will probably find a ‘reason’ to skip yoga class.  (Also known as an excuse.)  Although there are no scientific findings that suggest ‘working out’ at a certain time of the day increases the health benefits or calorie burning of your routine, research does suggest that a morning routine is more effective when it comes to developing a consistent habit.  Read more here.
  2. Pack your yoga bag every evening. If you oversleep and accidentally miss my 6 am classes, your yoga bag is already packed for the day. Your yoga clothes, yoga mat, and towel are ready to go. This means you can sneak away from work at lunch and catch a noon class or leave work on time and enjoy an evening class before heading home.  No excuses.  (Just make sure you clean your yoga mat in between sessions if you are going to leave it in the car this summer! How to deep-clean your yoga mat.)
  3. Prepare a schedule. At the beginning of every month, print a Month Calendar and write your yoga schedule on it.  If you set a goal of practicing 5 times a week, then you need to see how your yoga classes will schedule around other events.  For example, if you have a wedding shower to attend on Saturday morning during your usual yoga class, you need to schedule a practice on Friday instead.  It’s not rocket science, but the week tends to fly by if you aren’t paying attention.  Schedule your yoga classes to your Google Cal (like an appointment that you will NOT miss) and you are SET!
  4. Partner Up. Find a friend and plan yoga-dates.  Numerous studies show that having a ‘work-out partner’ increases accountability in keeping healthy habits. This article even suggests the type of person you choose as your partner is important. Yoga studios are a great way to meet people.  Some of my closest friends are ladies who walked into my class first as students.  Now, we text each other weekly to coordinate our yoga schedules and look forward to seeing each other every class.  Being accountable to a friend or a teacher makes a difference.  (If you would like me to text you at 5:15 am to remind you to get up and come to my Sunrise Yoga classes, I’ll do it!)
  5. Perfect your one breath.  If all you have time to do is stand on your yoga mat for ONE big breath, do it.  The more time you spend breathing deeply, mindfully, and meaningfully, the more you realize the value of ONE breath.  Set your Intention for the day, and perfect your one breath.  Your practice will be a success.  You may find out that, “many of the obstacles you thought were there do not even exist.”

Tell me how you schedule your day and your yoga practice.  What helpful habits have you formed?  I’d love to hear from you.  Happy Practicing!

-lisa

obstacles

stress less. #MeditationThoughtMondays

stress less

That’s great advice… but, um, how can you possibly “stress less” when life is hectic? My meditation students never fail to ask, “When am I supposed to give time to sitting around and meditating during the day?”

You might not have twenty extra minutes in a day to experience the stress relieving benefits of meditation.  But, when time is precious, do you have extra minutes in a day to GIVE To Stress? Stress steals moments.  Stress steals your ability to be effective, efficient, and compassionate.  Because your body is most concerned with survival, it doesn’t have time to be concerned with anything else, even staying healthy.  You can read more about stress and your immune response here.

Stress is a normal physiological response to, well, just about everything in your current environment.  Your body does not discriminate between physical stress and emotional stress: it reacts to both by releasing the same hormones and vamping up your sympathetic nervous system to all stimuli– real, imagined, positive, or negative.

During April, National Stress Awareness Month (yes, one more thing for you to stress over forgetting!), my Introduction to Meditation Workshops at Westport Yoga have been packed.  The best part?  In between our afternoon Sunday sessions my students have shared with me inspiring stories about how a one-minute morning meditation has reduced their daily stress levels.  Kara told me how she didn’t even get upset when her car was rear ended at a red stop light because she was practicing Mindful Breathing.  (I assigned the homework called “Red Light Breathing” to encourage students to stay mindful even during a stressful commute!) That’s extreme; I’d still get upset if my unsuspecting Subaru was hit by some knucklehead who was driving too fast.  But Kara’s Red Light Breathing must be super powerful.

Even one minute of mindful breathing can reduce stress and create relaxation in the body.   Whether you have one minute, or sixteen years, here are 9 tips you can utilize to reduce your stress level and lead a happier life.  (Number 9 is my favorite!)

The following was featured in Outside Magazine’s October 2014 Issue.  You can read the full article here.  It was written by Eric Beresini

clock

 

If you have: “10 Seconds: Laugh

Even just anticipating a chuckle is enough to relieve stress and elevate hormones that combat depression and boost immunity.

If you have: 5 Minutes: 
Chew Gum

Chewing two sticks a day for two weeks can fight off anxiety and fatigue and improve mood.

If you have: 15 Minutes: 
Meditate

Research has shown that a quarter of an hour of guided meditation performed in the office can kick psychological and physiological markers of stress. You don’t need someone in the flesh to help lead your thoughts; UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center offers free weekly meditation podcasts to download or stream.

If you have: 30 Minutes: 
Go for a Run

Five days a week at a moderate pace of around ten minutes per mile can boost your mood, concentration, and sleep quality—not to mention your cardiovascular health and muscle tone.

If you have: 45 Minutes: 
Take a Nap

A 45-to-60-minute daytime snooze boosts your cardiovascular system, bringing spiked blood pressure back down to normal.

image7

yoga and movement help reduce stress.  check out Lisa’s yoga teaching schedule here.

 

If you have: 90 Minutes: Stretch It Out

Studies have shown that yoga relieves tension in everyone from medical students to flood survivors. Ninety minutes twice a week erases anxiety and replaces it with calm, though sessions half that long can also work. (Check out Lisa’s full yoga teaching schedule here.)

If you have: 1 Day: Walk in the Woods

Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term meaning “walking or staying in forests to promote health.” Just a day in the wild, researchers have found, is enough to reduce stress, even in chronic sufferers.

 If you have: 1 Year: Move to Switzerland

The country topped the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Better Life Index for life satisfaction. A strong sense of community, high life expectancy, and low unemployment make the Swiss life sweet. That and your in-laws probably don’t live there.

If you have:16 Years: 
Get a Dog

A pup will lower your blood pressure and generally improve your psychological well-being. And bringing it to the office can increase job satisfaction.”  – Eric Beresini  You can read the full article here

Russell Ash being coy

Every time you come home, your dog will welcome you with open arms, no matter how stressed you are.  You should get one.  

Which of these tips can you utilize tomorrow?  Which one is your favorite?

(I’m sure you have time to stress less.  I can’t imagine you have time to stress more.)

Happy Living,

-lisa

stress less