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!

 

 

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.

When You Push Your Body Too Hard, It Pushes Back

I should have remembered this from the past, but I tend to push some things to the back burner of my mind when I don’t want to acknowledge them. I know from experience, if I push my body too hard, it can and will push back. I know that I am so much better with my MS, but I tend to forget that healing takes time. I didn’t get as sick as I was a few years back over night and while I have made such incredibly huge leaps in my health, there are still a few residual things that are lingering. One of those is fatigue.

But I still push myself anyway and sometimes I do prove to be my own worst enemy. It’s been a busy month getting the new offices ready to open on Monday. We do have them ready, Julie and I, and while the bathroom painting isn’t completed, we can open for business and it’s exciting! During this month I have also been working on my Yoga Teaching Certification. When I’m not at the shop cleaning and painting, I’m home studying yoga and completing the course work. Then in my spare time I get my weekly spiritual Class that I teach ready and I’ve started running and riding my bike again. I push myself beyond what I should and yet, I keep telling myself that I can do it all. 

My body stepped in and reminded me that no, I can’t do it all, not yet. Since December I have been looking forward to February 1 and my one day Yoga Intensive that would bring all that I’ve learned together and I would be teaching a 20 minute class. My class was worked out, I had practiced it with Julie and I was ready. Friday night, we had company show up at 8 PM. I knew that I was already tired, no naps for over a week and still pushing hard. I should have gone to bed at 8, but hindsight is always 20/20 and I went to bed after 11 PM. 

The Yoga Intensive was an hour and half drive from my home. I needed to be there at 7:45 AM, so I had to get up at 5 AM. I woke up at 3:30 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I got up exhausted, made my lunch, still determined to get through this day that I had waited so long to attend. My husband was worried as it was a long drive and he had other commitments for that day; he asked “is this class worth dying over?” My exhaustion must have shown clearly on my face. I guess that at that time, I thought it was or I was in very strong denial.

I got in my car, set the GPS up with the address and started out. The fog was so thick that I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of the car. My nose was pouring, a sure sign that I am exhausted and my body is breaking down. I drove to the first stop sign and I could hear as plain as day the question “what are you doing?” I sat at the stop sign for a bit, unable to see anything around me through the fog, and I knew that I couldn’t drive an hour and a half there, much less home again after a 9 1/2 hour class. I turned the car around and drove back home. I felt defeated.

I went back to bed and slept until 10:30 AM, got up for a bit and lay back down on the couch and slept another three hours. I spent the day in reflection (when I was wake) that began with chastising myself for pushing to hard when I knew better, to accepting that what is is and now, I’ll see what my next step will be. 

As I did my yoga this morning I felt a sense of peace. Yoga in my life was a necessity to move me forward upon my path. I will continue to study each Asana, the body, the movements, the breath, as each piece of the yoga practice moves me further along my own journey. It will help me to continue to heal, not only myself, but my Clients as well. 

I plan to spend another quiet day today, resting, learning, contemplating. I take responsibility for pushing to hard, the only one that ever pushes me is me. The Universe is telling me it’s time to slow down and the new offices are opening next week and I will be working with my Clients in a more regular way again. Helping them to heal, helps me to heal. I am looking forward to the next steps in my journey.

 

I’ve been busy!

I finally made it out for a run this afternoon, it’s been awhile! I only ran a mile (and part of that was a walk) but it felt good to be outside moving again. Last week I got back out on the bike so I think that my training shall get back into full swing again. I know that I’ll feel so much better with the body movement.

I have spent most of this month getting the new office space ready to open. Julie and I have removed shelving, painted, cleaned, and planned. It looks good, even if I do say so myself! We still have one more room to paint and then it will be finished. I am moving my things from my old office over to the new offices this weekend … a new beginning still surrounded by the things that have made my office warm and inviting. It will be nice to do be able to have space to teach my classes as well as my healing work, all under the same roof.

The yoga studies are going well, though I hadn’t really anticipated the depth of knowledge that makes up yoga. I believe that yoga will turn out to be a lifetime of learning, just like everything else that I’ve taken up on my spiritual journey! Holistic yoga will be a wonderful addition to my menu of services, teaching one on one as well as doing workshops for very small groups. I was hoping to be ready to offer these services beginning in February, but as I stated, there is more to learn and I feel that March is a better start date as I want to be the best teacher that I can for my students.

It’s been a busy month … but things will settle down soon and this new stage of my journey will begin, I can’t wait to see where it takes me!