Yoga … it’s good for your health!

I received my 200 hour Yoga Instructor Certification in February of 2014. Yes, I do teach yoga, no, I don’t teach to the mainstream fitness community. There is a reason for this!

I teach very small classes, only four people at a time. My students are those that wouldn’t go to a yoga studio for a variety of different reasons. I understand why they don’t. I am no different then they are. As I’ve said before, I have Multiple Sclerosis. Balance has been a very big issue for me as well as problems with my hands. These are two things to have that are very helpful when you are practicing yoga.

My students are aware of my MS, I don’t advertise it, but I don’t hide it either. They know that there are nights that I will struggle just as hard to accomplish the tree as they are. Some nights, I can’t do it. Of course, that is because it’s at night and I’m not at my best in the evenings. I DO know how to instruct my students to do the yoga asana’s correctly so that they don’t injure themselves.

There is a comfortable essence to the classes that I teach. Each person in the class is aware that they don’t have to be a certain level or do things perfect. Sometimes in big classes, a feeling of conspicuousness comes up and that takes away from the experience of yoga. When the student is very comfortable at keeping their own pace, they do much better with the postures.

Yoga is an excellent way to learn how to move inside and leave the outside world behind. When you are worried about how you look, embarrassed because you feel over, did the posture wrong, or whatever enters your mind,  you are no longer inside, you’ve gone back outside. Learning to breath deeply and following the breath with your body helps to create a unification of mind and body. The postures require your complete focus to hold them. Ask any of my students that managed to hold the tree for the duration of the time how exhilarating it is to have done that … and they will tell you that they had their focus completely on the pose, the outside world and what the others were doing had disappeared.

I use essential oils during my classes to help bring a element of peace and healing to the classes as well. I’ve used lemongrass and cypress on my wrists daily for a few years now, between the yoga and the oils, my numbness is much, much better. My wrists are much stronger than they have been in years.

Yoga is a way to move into meditation. Learning to focus your mind and be present is part of yoga, and what is done in meditation as well. When I move into svasana at the end of the practice, I must say I am very good at putting all of the students into a space of healing and total relaxation. Some fall asleep, which is fine with me, but all feel the peacefulness that comes from their yoga practice.

No matter what is going on in your life, what physical level you are at, you can make yoga part of your healing process. Moving the body is a good thing, even if it’s very small movements, and we all start small. Some of us go back and forth between small and huge, it all depends on the flow of our lives.

No, I’m not your typical large studio instructor. I’m me, and I’m no different than you in my abilities. That being said, I can help you to improve your own physical and mental well being in a safe environment. If you are interested in signing up for a yoga class (again there are only four per class) you can do so through the scheduling link on my facebook page. Even if you don’t schedule with me, find a class that is comfortable to you, a place that you feel safe and encouraged, and begin your own yoga practice. You will not regret it!

 

 

Relax … Get Enough Sleep, It’s Important!

I finished my AromaTouch(R)  Technique training a week ago last Saturday. Since then I have been working on accomplishing my sessions prior to receiving my certification. It didn’t take me long to realize what a powerful tool this technique is for my toolbox. I believe that we are all born with the ability for our bodies to heal. All we need is the proper tools to help facilitate this.

Our bodies no longer trust us to provide what they need to be healthy and whole. There was a time in the past when we ate our meals slowly – at a table with family. We took the time to prepare and eat the natural gifts of the earth and we were relaxed and took the time to chew our food! We went to bed with the sun, or if we stayed up, we used a soft yellow light to read by or relax by … i.e. the glow of a fire. We went outside and during the normal course of the day, we exercised. I’m not promoting going back to those times. I recognize that they were not as easy as the time that we live in today. I also recognize that life today has become one of constant motion. Night and day are mixed up and so are our circadian rhythms. We eat on the go, grabbing whatever we can gulp down and we spend hours sitting at a desk, working on our computers. We run from work to games, to night time meetings and then home again for three hours of sleep to just get up and do it all over again. I am tired just typing that!

095Autoimmune diseases are at historic levels in the United States, I believe that our lifestyle has as much or more to do with it as the environment and a genetic propensity towards autoimmune diseases. As I have written about in an earlier blog, What Do All Autoimmune Diseases Have In Common?, the one thing that all autoimmune diseases have in common is a leaky gut. I have/had one as well. I can look back at my digestive issues and I now understand how they came about. I am slowly working on my diet and healing my gut. I have told my husband, Brad, that I will never go back on pharmaceutical medications for my Multiple Sclerosis again. The side effects are not something that I wish to deal with anymore. I DO understand the need for medications and I don’t promote stopping any medication without having a discussion with your physician. I had that discussion and as a result, I have not been on any medications since December 17, 2012. I must admit that I don’t miss having a daily injection at all!

I was explaining the importance of our circadian rhythm to my husband as we were walking the dogs through the woods yesterday, how the blue light that we get indoors isn’t enough for the daytime and too much for nighttime. I had my information affirmed when our local news station did a segment on the circadian rhythm this morning. We need melatonin to sleep and  cortisol to wake up! Our bodies have forgotten how to manufacture these two hormones at the appropriate times so that our sleep cycle is still on course. Studies have shown a strong relationship between lack of sleep or disturbed sleep to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. If you consistently lack sleep you are at a much higher risk of getting sick or having a chronic disease. Studies on breast cancer and sleep have shown that the less you sleep, the less likely you are to survive. We heal as we sleep.

Not getting enough sleep creates inflammation in the body, regardless of your age. Some very simple things to do to help promote sleep are: walk outside for at least 15 minutes or more a day and get NATURAL light; turn the lights down in your home at night at least an hour before you go to bed to signal the body that it’s time to start creating melatonin; TURN OFF the TV in your bedroom, the flashing blue light is a guarantee that you will wake up; if you have to get up early, go to bed early! It has been shown that “catching up” on sleep isn’t effective, you don’t ever fully recover from the shortage of sleep and it continues to wreck havoc on your immune system.

My best advice to you is, starting tonight put sleep as a priority in your life. You WANT to live a full, healthy life, I am sure of it! It’s time to teach our bodies that they can trust us once again to take care of them and give them what they need to be healthy. We CAN heal; we just need to provide the proper tools for our bodies to work with. Small steps that we take to make long term lifestyle changes are important. Even if you just add one extra hour of sleep or maybe lower the lights at night, it all adds up and is a beginning of lifestyle changes that will create a healthy immune system. It’s important, you are important … take the time and make a few changes today.

Day One …

Today I started The Earth Diet 3 day cleanse. I promised myself that I would do this and if I don’t follow through, how can my body ever trust me to take care of it? It is an important part of getting healthy and healing, being able to trust yourself enough to know that you will follow through with the things that are healthy and good for you.

That being said, I didn’t have any coffee this morning and much to my surprise, I don’t have a headache! That’s a good sign, right? I started the day with “oil pulling”. Yes, you read that correctly.This is what is involved: First thing in the morning on an empty stomach you take 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15 – 20 minutes. You then spit it into the trash, rinse your mouth out with water. You are to drink lemon water the rest of the day to help clean out the toxins. That last part is easy for me as I have been drinking lemon water for a very long time. Instead of real lemons, I use doTERRA lemon essential oil (the oil comes from the rind, not the pulp) and at least that’s one GOOD habit that I already have.

Breakfast consisted of Beet Juice. Another interesting little tidbit to eat! It contains a beet, carrots, celery stalks, ginger (except I forgot to add the ginger) a red apple, and a lemon, rind and all. To that I added a clove of garlic and some kale. That all went into my nutribullet(TM) and a juice (sort of) was created. It was very fibrous, and had a unique taste to it. I am not a celery fan, so I think that maybe that is what I continued to taste for the next 2 hours! It is probably one of the healthiest, most fiber filled thing I’ve ever consumed in one meal!

So the day moved on and I snacked on an orange. I really wasn’t hungry, but I felt that I should eat something! I have found that I don’t get hungry often and there are days that I go without eating all day. That is something else I am working on, remembering to eat during the day so that I’m not starving by night time!

The Earth Diet BookLunch was a nice salad of cilantro, parsley, and avocado. It was dressed with lime juice. I love avocado, this was really pretty good! I am remembering to drink my water consistently so hopefully things will begin to flush through. Of course, I’m teaching a yoga class tomorrow night … maybe I don’t want them to flush through too strongly!

I AM looking forward to the ginger tea before going to bed. It should be soothing and help me to sleep.

Halfway through the first day and I have had all sorts of thoughts run through my mind! Most of them pertained to the ice cream sandwiches in my freezer! I made a promise to myself to begin eating better, this is the start. If I expect my clients to take their health into their own hands, then I can’t do anything different. Walk my talk and get a clear understanding of what it takes to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves.

This one goal is a three day cleanse that might not make a big difference in my life, and then again it just might. The biggest difference it will make is the one of accomplishing a goal that I have set for myself.

I will keep you posted on how things are moving along!

From MS to STP …

I have decided to ride in the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride this year. I know for some that really isn’t a big deal, but for me it is. I will give you just a small bit of my background, not much as it is only what is behind me not what is sitting here in the present with me.

In 1991 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At the time I also had Optical Neuritis and had no vision in my left eye. My balance was non-existent and I had to hold on to something to walk without falling over. I was numb from the waist down and I wore splints on both of my wrists as I had severe weaknesses there and dropped things rather often. I went on a very aggressive treatment plan to get the disease slowed down, aggressive treatment plans tend to also bring more than a few “side effects”. Now let’s fast forward to the present moment.

I haven’t taken any pharmaceuticals for MS since December 17, 2013. That was when I decided to have a talk with my Neurologist and ask him if I could go on a trial run without any medications. He said yes. I knew that I would do fine without the medication anymore as I had been working very hard at getting myself better. I did more than just get myself better, as of February, 2014 when I had my last MRI, there were no lesions present in my brain, a very big reason to celebrate! In 1991, I could see three of the lesions in my brain with my naked eye, they were that large. There were a total of seven at that time. Now you might begin to see why riding the STP this year is a very big deal to me and to those around me.

I have pushed myself to get into better shape. I have taken a 200 hour yoga teaching class and I love yoga. I know that it has helped me in both my balance and core strength. Yoga makes me a better biker. It’s as simple as that. I no longer take any pharmaceuticals, prescription or over the counter (other than vitamin D) and rely on my doTERRA essential oils to keep me healthy and to act as my medicine cabinet. This from a person that took Ibuprofen four at a time (800 mg) for pain on a daily basis. I am healthier than I have ever been and I must admit that it feels really good!

So much for my back story, now for the ongoing story of “let’s get ready to ride”! My husband, Brad, is an excellent bicycler, he has ridden the STP in two days and he’s ridden it in one day. He is riding it with me this year. He is a hill climbing bike rider and he is now getting me out on the hills as well. Today was a ride that he had mapped out for me as I plan on riding Tuesdays and Thursdays by myself during the week and then on the weekends we will ride together on our “long” rides.

The route he mapped out for me was a beautiful ride, it wasn’t a flat ride, but I made it up every hill. At this point he has told me not to worry so much about mileage, but to go by time because of the terrain that I will be riding. This advice made more sense to me after I finished the ride. 

I did discover today that it takes more than a dog treat to get a beagle to go home! At Brad’s advice I carry dog treats with me to help with the dog at large problem. Coming through one stretch I saw a beagle waiting at the side of the road. This is a road that is not very long and has very little traffic on it, so he wasn’t in much danger of getting hit by a car. He ran out when he saw me, tail wagging, and began running beside the bike. I tried to explain to him that he should go home, he didn’t listen so I threw him a treat. He didn’t even slow down. He was having fun, running with what must have seemed to him his new best friend. He switched sides of the bike and I began to see that this might become a problem as he crossed IN FRONT of the bike and I almost hit him. I threw him another treat and once again, he ran right past it. He was really cute, I must admit, but he really needed to go home! I was coming to the end of this short road and I knew that I would be turning onto a slightly busier road so I tried the treats once more, no response at all. I guess though, in the end, he did have his limits on how far he would follow and play as he turned around just before I made it to my turn and headed home. He should have had a nice trot home, eating his treats as he went.

It was a good ride, I made it up every hill and I know that with each ride, I am getting stronger and more confident. I was bit surprised when I checked the speedometer on my bike and realized that I averaged 11 MPH on the ride, that was including the hills! Of course though, I DID have a top speed of 30 MPH and I know that was on a downhill. I am going to have to watch that I don’t get too confident on those downhills. 

This is something that no one, not even myself, thought that I would be able to do, ride a bike and ride it well. It feels good to beat the odds and turn something around that was at one time treated almost like a death sentence and make it into an inspiring story of hope. If I can do it, others can do it as well. I will gladly continue to tell my story because the more people that I can inspire to work harder at getting better, to find the mindset that will allow them to push and not give up, the happier I am. 

Life is too short to accept the limitations that are placed on us by the diagnosis that we receive. There are so many stories out there of those that have beaten the odds and showed such strength in all that they do. You can do and be anything you want, the catch is, you have to want it bad enough to not give up when it begins to hurt and the going gets hard. It’s not easy, I know. I don’t say any of that lightly, but I do say it with my full heart. I have faith in you and I know that if you have faith in yourself you will have a beautiful life.

 

Do You Know Your Why?

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about my “Why” lately. Why do I do the things I do, is my why clear, do I live true to my why, do I pass the “celery test”? I have discovered that it is very important for me to live within my “why” and for that to be the basis that I make all of my decisions on, both personal and professional. Without a “why”, everything else is just a confusing “what and how”.

I firmly believe that everyone was born with the ability to have a healthy, abundant life. Joy is a birthright, one that most of us start to lose as we grow up and the beliefs of the world start to set in. Part of my “why” is teaching people the tools to help them reclaim their birthright once again. My “why” is wrapped around this concept, that we were all born to live in Joy and happiness, that we can work our way through the things that have come to us during our lives and made our lives turn out to be unbearable. There are people that have been documented that lived their lives in Joy, even when they were living in a concentration camp. They found peace and happiness. I love this quote by Victor Frankel, “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

All that I do is geared toward this “why”. I am a Reiki Master and Reiki helps my clients work through their emotional issues and helps them to heal. I am a yoga instructor and yoga brings people to that place of spirituality where they can start to let things go and learn to love themselves in the skin they are currently living in. I teach classes to help people learn to look into their own mirrors and work through their own demons that have taken a lifetime to create. I teach them the gift of the earth in essential oils so that they may be empowered in their own health. I teach them, that they are the ONLY ones that are in charge of their own lives. I can give them the tools, but they need to do the work. There is no other way.

The mind is a powerful thing, so is the heart. The mind can “think” all of the wonderful affirmations that it wants, but if the heart doesn’t feel the joy of the emotion behind it, it’s not going to work. Thoughts lead the emotion, most of the time. Negative thoughts bring about negative emotion, it’s so much easier to be negative than it is to be positive, why is that? To have your heart filled with joy is so much more rewarding, but why is it that the joy is so difficult to find? We are programmed through the news to be aghast at the atrocities that occur, heart warming stories don’t create ratings. We seem to be a world addicted to finding out every bad thing that happens, everywhere, and then spreading it out and around. What about the good things, the ones that bring joy? I think those are the ones that fit in with my “why” the best and those are the ones that I share.

I challenge you to find your “why” and then learn to live within those means. Find out if you pass the “celery test”. Oh, and you might ask what the celery test is … It’s in a book that I read by Simon Sinek “Start With Why”. As an example, if you knew that someone was a big proponent of a healthy lifestyle and it was their profession, what they based their company motto on and everything that they did, and you saw them in the grocery store with a cart filled with donuts, chips, and candy bars, would you continue to believe what they stand for? You might think twice about doing business with them as they are out of sync with their reason for being in business. On the other hand, if they were standing in line with a cart filled with celery, almond milk, and other assorted fresh vegetables, you would smile and think, they not only teach healthy living, they LIVE a healthy lifestyle.

So, does your “why” pass the celery test? I am making sure that mine does. I wish to be, in all instances, the person that helps my clients to their birthright once again. To help them learn to peel back the layers of the onion and live the life that they have every right to live. Be it Reiki, Angel classes, self empowerment classes, Yoga, EssentialYoga, essential oils, or just listening, I believe that I have a clear handle on my “why”. Find your “why” and then let your “what” and “how” follow it through.