Yoga for Clarity YouTube Video

Yoga to the Rescue: The Other Side of Confusion

Have you made your resolutions for 2011?

I can't say that I've ever been in the habit of listing my New Year's Resolutions at the years end. For one, I am constantly striving to be a better me. My goals and inspirations come to me throughout the year. However, this awareness of my un-involvement in, and in fact apathy for this very popular tradition has me indulging in introspection.

Is it because in the past I haven't seen myself as the deliberate creator that I am? Am I prone to a victim mindset (you know, faulting the economy, the job market, my upbringing, and other endless excuses)? I am simply too lazy to take responsibility for my life?

The question often contains the answer

Ouch. The truth sure stings sometimes. Still, I prefer it to living a life of illusion (not the Joe Walsh song – actually, I really like that song). With all of this in mind, I have begun a new practice, a "resolution" if you will. When I have a tendency to question, I turn it into a statement. The result is that I find clarity where there was previously floundering. With clarity I am more likely to take action. It is like this: When I state that I haven't recognized my power for intentional living and that I use excuses to let myself off the hook and that I can claim my power and my responsibility at any moment, a pretty wonderful thing happens. I know what my next step is.

Practice is the key word here. I am not always as present for myself as I intend to be. Fortunately, my default response to feeling knocked off my center is internalization and questioning. And as I mentioned earlier, the question and the answer are usually very close indeed.

Bonus: I always have my yoga practice which continues to reveal me to me.

Yoga Sequence for Clarity and Inspiration

I have designed this short asana sequence to relax and sooth stressed nerves and reveal a clear headed, confident state of mind. Practice when you feel confused or unclear about what you want, your life purpose or simply what you should do next.

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So there it is, my gift to you as we enter this new year (and new decade!). Please return to it whenever you need. I plan on posting more videos soon. Please let me know if you have any requests.

Also, I would love to hear your thoughts about this video or about your New Year's resolutions. How do you find clarity amidst the chaos? Please share!

Happy New Year!

Lindsay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Your Yoga Practice Off of Your Mat

In the sacred space of the yoga room, you are provided with a safe place to get to know yourself, your body, your fears and your strengths.

Yoga class can bring many lessons and a variety of experiences within the span of but 60-90 minutes. Learning how to apply your experiences in yoga class to your life outside of the yoga room can bring that bliss-filled-yoga-class-clarity to other areas of your life, too.

Here are a few examples of how to grow your yoga practice into your day-to-day moments.

Notice your breath.

Something that is repeated in yoga class after yoga class is bringing your awareness to your breath. Also, incorporated in a class is pranayama or yogic breathing exercises. This is a helpful and powerful practice that carries over into everyday life almost by default. With regular practice, you begin to notice how you are breathing in any given situation. For example, "Is my breath short and shallow or slow and steady?"

The awareness that yoga practices brings and the ability to return to your slow flow of breathe can be extremely helpful. A relaxed breathe promotes a relaxed body and ultimately a relaxed mind. Try it next time you are stressed while sitting in traffic or facing a deadline at work. First, notice that you are stressing out (that seems pretty obvious). Then, notice your breath. Let go of everything else and breathe slow and deep. What usually comes next is a sense of serene clarity and the ability to to handle whatever it is that has you stressed. The alternate nostril breath is a brilliant "stress-buster" (I have been known to do this while driving).

Release unnecessary tension.

In the same way that awareness of your breath is helpful, so is awareness of your body. The cues given by yoga teachers in class are relevent in many situations daily. That "dawning" you have in class when you finally understand what it means to release your shoulders back and down holds true in life – release unnecessary tension. In other words, find where you are "leaking" energy with tense muscles, let go of the tension, and you might just find that you have more energy and clarity as a result.

Let go of what does not serve you.

In the most literal sense yoga class helps you relieve the physical tension that leads to energy "leaks." In yoga class you are often confronted with your criticisms, comparisons and judgements of yourself (and sometimes others) as well. You can either continue those patterns of thought and be miserable or you can let go of those things (even if just for the span of the class) in order to have a better class experience. This becomes a practice for life as well. Can you let go of certain patterns that you may have outgrown?

Accept yourself as you are.

Comparisons and goal-oriented mindsets are part of our nature. We want to strive, we want to achieve. No different with our yoga practice. We have reasons for practicing, for example, weight loss, peace of mind, or a deeper spiritual connection. It is easy to slip into a mindset of "achieving" or in other words "wanting" and thus living in the mental space of "not having" You won't be able perform the most advanced or physically challenging poses in the beginning, nor would you want to (ouch!). However, you can realize that the beauty is, in fact, in the unfolding – the opening up to yourself.

When you realize that where you are in your ability is perfect and exactly were you need to be, a miraculous thing happens. You accept yourself as you are instead of fighting your limitations. Your focus shifts from that which you do not have (wanting mind) to that of appreciation for what you are. And in this space, you are open to way more possibilities than those stringent goals you set in the first place. Why limit yourself in life? Be easy about it and give yourself the freedom to allow infinite possibility.

Please share your thoughts about bringing yoga union to your off-the-mat life. I would really love to hear from you.

Love,

Lindsay

If you'd like to read more, check out this post where I discuss the subtle ways in which my yoga practice helped me deal with chronic depression.

 

 

 

How I Came to Understand Children’s Yoga ~ My elephantjournal.com debut!

My elephantjournal.com debut!

I am so excited about this. The community of bloggers and thoughtful people over at elephantjournal.com are a huge inspiration to me. It is one of my favorite places to hang out online and if you head on over there and look around a bit, you will see why.

I would be truly honored if you would read my very first post for elephantjournal.com and leave a comment there and even share with your friends and social networks (that would be awesome!).

My Children, My Gurus

As a mother of two, I know parenting to be one the most challenging and rewarding endeavors one can experience in life.

I am grateful to have found myself seeing the world through my children’s eyes as they explore with reckless abandon and plenty of giggles. There’s nothing quite like a big squishy hug and an “I love you, Mommy” after a long day of enforcing boundaries and worrying about their safety.

As a yoga teacher, I find sharing yoga with others to be incredibly rewarding as well. You can learn a lot by having to explain something to someone and by seeing people become empowered to participate in life mindfully and compassionately. Why it never occurred to me that combining the two (children and yoga) could be such a profound experience is beyond me.

So, it happened by chance that I stumbled upon the amazing gift of teaching yoga to children and I have my beautiful 6 year old daughter, Tobin, to thank for it. Continue reading on elephantjournal …

Thanks for your support!!

Previously published here on my blog in December 2009.

Cool It, Man! Try Some Minty Water [RECIPE] – Hot Yoga Hydration Tips

When it is hot outside, staying hydrated is essential and requires a little mindfulness.

True, it might seem obvious (drink water or die?) and also true, we tend to be thirstier during the warmer months. Still, we can forget to drink enough water. Go figure.

Then again, even if we are paying attention to our water consumption we can become downright BORED with drinking so much water.

Here’s a healthy alternative. It is refreshing and tasty and has the added bonus of making good use of that extra mint growing (like mad) in your herb garden.

 

Mint-Infused Water

Instructions:

  • -Take a handful of freshly picked mint leaves, any variety, and wash well.
  • -Place the leaves in room temperature water, about 1 large liter-sized bottle, and allow to infuse for several hours or overnight (can also be stored in the fridge for longer).
  • -Remove or strain mint leaves from water.
  • -Add ice if desired and enjoy a refreshing, soothing summer beverage!

Feel free to experiment with the ratios of mint and water. Also, bruising or chopping the mint leaves first will make for a stronger minty flavor.

Another way to infuse your water with natural mint is to make a “sun tea.” Simply fill a bottle or jar with drinking water and fresh mint and place in a warm, sunny location. Your mint tea will be ready in about 20-40 minutes depending on the degree and intensity of the sunny spot.

Mint is so easy to grow and especially manageable if grown in a container. However, if you don’t want to make this yourself, the Metromint water sold in health food stores is an adequate substitute. It just seems a little excessive when it is so easy (and cheap!) to make your own. Another bonus: Mint has many health benefits!

Try it in Hot Yoga Class

Now, this is not for everyone, not all of the time. Sometimes it seems that anything but plain water is icky (for lack of a better adjective) when you’re intensely focused on your sweaty practice, but it is worth a try now and again. Mint is cooling in nature and is also quite soothing if you’re feeling nauseous. I like it, not all of the time, but sometimes it is simply AWESOME.

When Water Isn’t Enough

Maintaining proper hydration is important for overall health and well-being. If you happen to love Hot Yoga as much as I do, it is especially important. You lose trace minerals and overall balance when you sweat a lot and in Hot Yoga class, you sweat even MORE THAN A LOT! Here are some more ways to replenish and maintain proper hydration and mineral balance:

  • -Electrolyte supplements such as Ultima Replenisher (my fav) and sports drinks such as Gatorade.
  • -All-natural coconut water.
  • -Or you can make your own all-natural electrolyte drink (info below).

I like this recipe from Aviva Jill Romm’s “Naturally Healthy Babies and Children”:

 

Electrolyte Replacement Drink

Combine:

  • -8 ounces water (preferably warm or room temperature)
  • -1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • -A pinch of salt
  • -2 tablespoons or more of honey, sugar, or maple syrup

I recommend at least 1 serving (the above 8 oz) on days you sweat a great deal.

 

Please share your tips below!

Lots of Love,

Lindsay

 

More Resources:

You’re all dried up (yoga and water)

Yoga Students – Drink Tap Water (not bottled)

 

Have you ever lost yourself only to realize that you’ve actually FOUND yourself?

An experiment.

You know yourself pretty well, right? What does it mean to not feel like yourself? I have a theory that these moments of discombobulation are a sort of crossroads and that insecurity can be a useful tool for growth and expansion. These are moments of choice and of power. For in these precious and vulnerable instances, you can choose to remain as you know yourself to be or you can choose something different. The key is letting go and, believe it or not, losing yourself.


WITS END

 

So, next time it happens, next time you’re not feeling like you, try this:

Let go. Really. Let go. Forget what you think you know about yourself. What would your life be like if you dropped your labels, your personality and your limits?

Think about it. Go there. Feel it.

Think about something that you are absolutely CERTAIN that you can not do or be. Maybe it’s a yoga pose or winning the lottery, for example. Perhaps it is simply telling the truth about something, learning a new skill or overcoming an illness. It could be a dream you had a long time ago of being a movie star or a MEGA ROCK STAR standing on that stadium stage, with lights and smoke machines and hundreds of thousands of adoring fans screaming for more of (oh, that’s just not possible) you.

Are you there? Are you certain about this thing whatever it is?

Now, what would your life be like if you did not have that thought or belief?

and please do share …

Love,

Lindsay


Bonus and somewhat related MEGA ROCK STAR video: OK Go “This Too Shall Pass”

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Image: Now & Zen Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

gratitude and abundance

Unlocking Gratitude: Money Is Love

Just thought I would share this wonderful affirmation and also some information about tapping into the power of gratitude.  This has helped me personally to shift my attitude about money and allowed me to recognize the abundance that already exists in my life, leading me to a happier, more fulfilling life.

There seems to be a collective focus on money these days, more specifically on how not having money is causing problems and unhappiness.  What if we could think about money in a new way.  What if there was a way to find happiness other than money?  What if money is a physical expression of the love inherent in every one of us.  Try this: Read and repeat out loud the affirmation below daily, or as often as you need to.

Money Is Love

I take this time to open myself and my life to abundance.
The abundance that flows freely through this honorable universe.
The abundance that is for the many, not just the few.
Money is part of everything, as I am part of everything.
Money is unlimited flowing to me, in every possible way.
I can easily, joyously shift my attitudes toward money.
I can experience money as energy that can be transformed into love,
so that each dollar I send out into the world flows from me on a current of love and light.
Each dollar I send out into the world can touch another person with love.
My heart and my mind have been opened to the truth that Money is Love.
For this and all the abundance in my life each and every day, I am deeply appreciative.

Okay, maybe affirmations and talking about “money as energy” just doesn’t work for you. How about a keeping a gratitude journal?  This is another incredibly powerful tool for shifting your attention and awareness to that of abundance.

Here’s how to do it: When you first wake up in the morning, make a list of those things in your life that you appreciate.  Write down evidence of abundance in your life.  You will notice, when you begin the exercise, your list may only be 5 items long.  Before you know it, you will be making gratitude lists of 20-50 things or more every day as your awareness shifts to that which you appreciate.  It’s a great way to begin your day and I can honestly say that it has helped me tremendously, as someone who has suffered from depression, to shift my mood naturally.  The better the mood, the more the inspiration and motivation flows.

It is easy to get caught up in what you don’t have and thinking about what you want based on what you don’t have.  What about those things that you do have — those things you have worked hard for and have already accomplished.  Do you not want those things?  When you are able to notice what you have as being something that you want, it becomes a easier to find ways to improve your situation, for example your financial situation.  This is in part because you are now open to the possibilities of things being different than they are and you recognize that you have been able to make things happen positively in the past, so why not now?  In other words, you stop focusing on the problem and start looking towards a solution.

Here is some more help …

Share and get inspired with Gratitude Log

A great site for tapping in to your abundance, GratitueLog.com is kind of like Facebook …. but even happier!  By the way, gratitude is free, and so is this awesome site!

There are many other resources for online gratitude journals.  However, some people find it easier to type their journal using a word processing program on their computer.  I recommend keeping it simple and do-able.  The process can be as basic as a pencil and a scrap piece of paper.

I will leave you with one last little bit of inspiration.  One of my favorite quotes of all time:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

-Melodie Beattie

Thanks for reading.  If you enjoyed this post, please forward or retweet!

Colourvinyl_Burn the asylum_wikimediacommons

Try Something Different: Music To Make Yoga To

I love practicing yoga to music.  Mantra and kirtan (chanting with musical accompaniment) are wonderful and can add so much to the transcendental aspect of a meditative yoga class.  However, much like individual people, there is so much music out there, all so varied and beautiful.

“Music is what feelings sound like.”

In conjunction with the physical movement of a yoga class, music can provide an incredible emotional release.  We tend to store a lot of emotions within our physical body (example: notice what happens to your neck and shoulders when you’re feeling stressed).  The power of practicing yoga postures is the way in which it strengthens our body-mind connection.  The power that music has is its ability to get you out of an analytical, thinking state and into a more intuitive, feeling state. The two combined can be quite effective for releasing emotional “stuck” places.  Music also has the ability to inspire a frame of mind open to creativity and joy.  Think about a song that, every time you hear it, you feel different, you feel like moving and dancing, simply for the fun of it!

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without” -Confucius

Mix it up. A universal language, there is truly music for everyone and for every experience.  I recommend trying something a little different next time you practice.  Try making a playlist of your favorite songs, no matter the genre or if it might seem totally wrong at first.  Try music that moves you – to tears, to laughter, joy, excitement, rage, anything.  Experiment with this.  Play around and above all, have FUN with it.  By the way, it is also perfectly acceptable to sing and dance in a yoga class.  In fact, I recommend it.

“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul”-Plato

Upbeat and Uplifting. Here are some examples of music that is GREAT for a yoga class, music that I enjoy playing on occasion:

  • The Beatles pretty much any song
  • Coldplay Viva la Vida, God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
  • Jason Mraz I’m Yours
  • Jem It’s Amazing, Keep On Walking
  • Gnarls Barkley Going On, Smiley Faces
  • Justin Timberlake My Love feat. T.I. and Timbaland
  • MIA Pull Up the People, Sunshowers, Paper Planes
  • Bitter:Sweet Don’t Forget To Breathe
  • Goldfrapp Beautiful
  • Feist I Feel It All
  • OK Go Invincible, Do What You Want
  • Vampire Weekend M79, Bryn, The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance

Yoga and music dork that I am, I could go on and on ….. and on.  Hopefully, you get the idea but if you happen to be thinking, “What the heck is she talking about?”  It’s okay.  Emotional reactions to music are completely subjective.  Like I said, try some of YOUR favorite music and see what happens.

Namaste and Rock On with Your Funky Self ……

Lindsay

Please share an example of your favorite music to “make yoga” to below!

“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.”

Yoga for Depression

How is a yoga practice beneficial for someone with a history of depression?

Here is what I think, or at least what I have noticed in my personal experience.

First of all, depression is defined as experiencing feelings such as worthlessness, hopelessness, lethargy or an overall feeling of sadness that lasts more than two weeks.  Most of us feel down from time to time, but clinical depression is a completely different animal and is very serious.  I am not suggesting that yoga replace medical care for clinical depression.  I am simply acknowledging how yoga has helped me personally as someone with a history of depression and that yoga can prove very helpful as a preventive measure.

When you exercise, as in a yoga class, your body releases chemicals called endorphins.  These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.  This can help ease anxiety and feelings of depression.  Regular exercise has also been proven to reduce stress, boost self esteem, improve sleep, and increase energy levels.

In addition to the physical benefits and the boost to your self esteem beginning an exercise regimen brings, there are more subtle ways in which yoga might help with depression.  The mind-body connection is something which most people agree exists.  The most immediate way of expressing emotion and communicating is through our body.  The term “body language” refers to how we react physically to our emotions.  I believe this to be at the root of yoga’s benefits for assisting in overcoming depression.  Many yoga postures (asanas) place your body in positions which open the front side of the body.  Take a backward bend like Ustrasana, Camel Pose, for example.  This position with the chest lifted and arms extended is the physical expression of joy and gratitude.  Practicing this posture will trigger an emotional response which, as you might imagine, can bring immediate hope and relief to someone experiencing a depressed state.

There is another way yoga might prove useful.  Something I also consider to be a key element in yoga’s ability to ease depression is the way in which yoga practice reveals to us how we treat ourselves.  Listening to that internal dialogue can be extremely helpful.  Are we accepting of our self?  Are we critical?  Is this thought or this way of thinking useful to me?  One of my favorite yoga quotes really sums this up:

“Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are.” -Jason Crandell

Yoga eliminates hiding from yourself by bringing forth confrontation of both physical and emotional blockages during asana practice.  While the physical blockages may seem obvious (the tight hamstrings, shoulders, etc.), the emotional experience in your yoga classes might be confusing at first.  You may find yourself feeling angry, scared, or disappointed during class, and sometimes it may seem completely out of place.  Great!  Take this as an opportunity to acknowledge, accept and feel your emotions completely.  Allow yourself to be curious and to practice not judging yourself.  Simply ask yourself, “I wonder where that came from?” and let the healing begin.  For once you ask the question, or perhaps it is simply the act of asking the question, your mind is opened and your heart is opened as well.  Yoga class can offer such wonderful and much needed emotional release.

So please, take these 60-90 minute classes and get to know yourself, accept yourself, love yourself and heal yourself.

Namaste,

Lindsay Fields