Accepting Yourself the Way You Are

When you look in the mirror, what do you say to yourself? Do you notice all your flaws and wish you looked different? (Or do you see your best features and thank your body for everything it’s done for you?)

How do you receive compliments? Do you say thank you with a smile? (Or do you counter it with self-criticism?)

Do you use negative words like dumb, fat, and stupid when you think about yourself or talk about yourself? Do you criticize yourself both to yourself and to others? (Or do you use empowering words and focus on your positive attributes?)

Do you think life would be better if only you had a better job or worked harder or if you lost some weight or if you had nicer clothes or a more expensive car? Do you think people would like you more if you put on fake eyelashes or carry an expensive purse?

I know people like this. They put themselves down all the time for one reason or another, and they can’t accept compliments when you point out something positive about them. They think what’s on the outside matters more than what’s on the inside. They think happiness is always around the corner if they just do more, have more, weigh less, be a certain way etc. They never find happiness because they are focused on the wrong things.

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I’m here to tell you to stop it if you are one of these people. Just stop it. You are enough. You are perfect the way you are. You don’t need to change to please anyone else, and you don’t need to change to be happy or to be loved by others.

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In fact, happiness comes from inner peace. Happiness comes from the inside. It’s not something you find outside of you. And it’s definitely not something you find in a material object. People who will judge you and like or not like you based on something material are not real friends anyway.

But can’t we all make improvements? Absoutely, yes we can. If you need or want to lose weight, go for it! If you want a better job, go for it! If you want flashy clothes and cars, go for it, but don’t think that changes your value as a human being. If you want to change your lifestyle choices like eating better or drinking less or working out more, go for it, you will still be perfect every single day on every single step of the way. You will still be lovable and worthy.

We are all exactly where we need to be, and we are perfect exactly the way we are. We are all beings of love and light on separate journeys in this life. We are all unique and perfect in our imperfections. We are all very different, and we all have positive aspects about ourselves, and that’s great!

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Just be you. It’s really simple. You’re already you. When you accept yourself the way you are, your confidence will make you shine. When you are secure that your life is a wonderful thing just the way it is, you start to appreciate what you have. When you let go of caring what other people think, you are free to be whatever you want and smile about it.

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Try looking in the mirror and seeing what is beautiful about you. Try identifying a few character traits you like about yourself. Try being grateful for everything you have (make a list) and examine your relationships to see which ones are genuine. Let go of people who drain you and situations that wear down your sense of self. Identify goals and take baby steps to meet them. Keep growing in the direction of your choosing. Never lose track of who you really are inside.

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We only get one life, and life is short. Find your inner peace and enjoy it.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 21: Self Love

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What makes me happy? 70 minute reflexology sessions! Got one tonight after having a nice day taking care of myself (went to the gym, practiced handstands and forearm stands, did a little shopping and took myself out to eat a healthy dinner at Pei Wei).

Click here to learn more about reflexology. It’s like massage but different, and I love it!

I think the concept of self love is super important and have been working hard in this area over the past several years. I blog about it under the category Self Care Sunday

Ever heard of the golden rule? You know, ‘treat others as you want to be treated’? I like that idea, but it could use some extension. How about treating ourselves the way we want to be treated? How about being nice to ourselves, doing things we enjoy, doing things that are healthy for us? If we don’t take care of ourselves, we are not really any good to other people. If we aren’t happy and whole being ourselves, we don’t have much to offer others. On the flip side, if we continue through life without making ourselves a priority, it not only affects us and our overall health, it can also get in the way of healthy happy relationships with others.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, please take a few minutes to watch. It’s worth it. Ben Smythe has a way with words and expresses it better than I can. Just watch and listen. Watch it and listen to it a few times. He makes several excellent points and he is hilarious!

Click here – Ben Smythe on Attracting Unfulfilling Relationships

I just want to say thank you to Rachel Brathen for this fun challenge! Some days were easier than others. My favorites that I don’t already do often and want to keep doing more are: get creative, Mother Nature, start a new routine, something new, and sweat. The hardest one for me was rise and shine. I only did it that one morning! My chiropractor says my adrenal glands are not happy and I need more sleep, so for now I won’t be rising too early. Overall, I already try to do some yoga and meditation every day (even if it’s brief), be grateful, say I love you, and get shit done.

I also focus hard every day on self love. It’s what’s helped me grow through a lot of pain and difficult times. Loving myself and taking care of myself has helped me be happy being myself. Once I found some inner peace I think things started to fall into place in my life. I also think taking care of myself is a good role model for my kids.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Self Care Sunday: Sleep

Sleeping is so important for our bodies.  It’s the main way we metabolize cortisol, the stress hormone from the adrenal glands.  Our bodies repair themselves when we sleep.  Our brains assimilate information, and we grow while we sleep.

I can never seem to get enough sleep.  Generally, once I’m asleep I will sleep for a long time with some tossing and turning to change positions according to pain during the night.  However, there are some nights when I find it hard to fall asleep.  My mind is busy with different thoughts, and my body gets tense causing physical pain.  Once I realize I’m not sleeping and it’s getting late, I wake up even more.  That makes it more difficult to sleep.  So, it becomes a vicious cycle.

Here are a few things I do to help me unwind and get a better night’s sleep:

  • Calm down.  Breathe.  Inhale, exhale, repeat.  Count to ten, then repeat.
  • Do some yoga.  Specific yoga poses like child pose calm the nervous system and help with sleep.
  • Click here to read more about yoga poses that help with sleeping.
  • Click here for another list.  I typically do these poses on the floor in front of the tv at night to start winding down.
  • One naturopathic doctor told me if I was going to do one yoga pose a day, I should do downward dog.  It’s an easy pose that stretches the spine and massages the internal organs.
  • Have a bedtime routine of some sort.  It’s not exactly the same thing as the kids’ version but similar.  Shower time, quiet time, reading, and stretching all are effective bedtime routine activities.
  • Listen to nature sounds or a playlist of favorite songs.  I enjoy listening to ocean sounds and birdsongs on my iPhone app called Nature Space.
  • Take a hot bath or shower.  Epsom salts in the bath are super relaxing.

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What do you do to help yourself sleep well?  Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Self Care Sunday: Swimming

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I love swimming. This is a picture of the indoor lap pool at my gym, where I swim frequently. I’ve mentioned swimming before in a Self Care Sunday entry. It’s one of the ways I take care of myself because it’s a whole body, low-impact sport.   It’s easy on the joints because the water makes our bodies more buoyant. Yet, it’s strengthening and challenging to move ourselves through the water for a sustained period of time.

As a child, I took swimming lessons in elementary school I think. I do remember learning all four of the strokes and how to complete a flip-turn. I was on the diving team for one summer but never on the swim team. I mainly swam for fun at the neighborhood pool.

As an adult, I rediscovered swimming when I became interested in triathlons. To train for a sprint distance triathlon in 1998, I started swimming laps at the gym pool. I learned from a friend to do a set of sixteen laps, take a short rest, then a set of twelve, eight, and four laps and sprint the final two laps of every set. It took about 45 minutes.

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We spend family time together in this pool (indoors) all year. There’s another pool with water slides outdoors that’s open for an extended season depending on outdoor temperatures.  Spending time together as a family swimming, sliding, playing basketball, and throwing the football is a fun way to relax and enjoy weekends.

I spend a lot of time going back and forth from the pool to the jacuzzi.  It’s good for circulation to go back and forth between heat and cold.  Plus, I love the jets! They feel like getting a massage.  There is also a sauna (coed) and steam room (female only) for the ultimate spa type experience.  Feels so good.

 

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Self Care Sunday: Balance

20130414-221855.jpg Life is all about balance. To be healthy people, we have to learn to balance the many aspects of our lives. I found these three graphic organizers that display different facets of our overall health. It’s so hard to balance just the five things in the circle graph above. We need enough sleep, yet we also need to exercise and relax. We need to feed ourselves well and exist within a social support network of some sort. Whether that’s family or friends, time together is just as important as time alone. If you are a mom like I am, you are also in charge of making sure you meet and balance these needs for your children too. No pressure!

Last week, I worked on the sleep section of the pie, staying home two days in a row to take naps instead of running around during the day. This week, I’ve been exercising more; physical therapy twice this week for my knee and two days in a row of swimming laps at the pool this weekend. Our pool is at our gym, and the aquatic area includes both indoor and outdoor pools with lap lanes and fountains and water slides for the kids. There is also a sauna and two jacuzzis and steam rooms. The weather was super nice this weekend, so I also took advantage of the opportunity to relax in the sun both yesterday and today.

Nutrition is always a challenge for me because I’m allergic to/intolerant of wheat, corn, sugar, and eggs. I know how to eat clean but it is very hard to sustain it meal after meal, day after day. I’ve focused hard this week on eating foods that agree with me instead of foods that make my inflamed and reactive. It’s really hard though. I mean really hard.

 

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This Venn diagram is interesting because it shows that different parts of our lives are interrelated. It’s helpful to see that there is overlap between varying aspects of our well-being. I spend a lot of time in the mind and emotions sections and am learning to spend more time in the spirit section. Working some, but not too much. Taking care of my body and working on nurturing relationships.

 

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This thinking map identifies specific ways to work on different parts of our lives. This graph suggests that by working on these individual components of ourselves, we can achieve balance and feel happy and healthy, free from depression and anxiety.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Self Care Sunday: making appointments, showers, flowers, and sticky notes

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Do you make time for yourself? I try to. To help myself, I make appointments in my schedule for the gym. I’m more likely to go if I plan in advance what days to go during the week. It’s understood that we want to go on the weekends too. I try to make it to the 11:00am yoga class at the gym on Sundays. I also like to make time to get my nails done from time to time. It’s something little that makes a difference. I feel prettier when my nails look nice.

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There is nothing like a long, hot shower. It’s relaxing and refreshing to wash off the day before getting into bed, and it’s a great way to wake up in the morning and prepare for the day. I always feel better after getting out of a shower. It’s so good for my skin to moisturize right after a shower while it’s still moist. I don’t always dry/style my hair and put on makeup, but when I do, I definitely feel more confident.

I also think it’s nice to buy flowers for myself from time to time. I prefer living plants and flowers so they don’t die quickly. I especially like my calla lilies that I planted a few years ago. They come back every year, and they have a beautiful red flower. I’ve also planted knockout roses in my gardens and love snipping buds to put in a vase inside.

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Sticky notes are a good way to give myself reminders to take care of myself and use positive thinking. I also like to leave romantic messages on sticky notes for my husband. He is slowly learning to return the favor. It makes me happy to find little notes from him.

How are you taking care of yourself today?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Self Care Sunday: Being Selfless, Baths, Stretching, Music, and Being Late

It’s Monday, but I missed Self-Care Sunday yesterday. Sorry. That’s the being late part of today’s post. My Sunday was over-filled, and I didn’t get a post written before midnight. I needed sleep. Sleep is an excellent self-care strategy. Being late isn’t always an ideal option, but in this case I needed sleep more than my readers needed to hear from me. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Did anyone notice that I didn’t post yesterday? I didn’t post on Saturday either, and although ideally I would like to post daily, it doesn’t work out that way with everything else I have going on, mainly family time on the weekends. But the time with my family goes is so rare, precious, and fleeting. I know since my oldest daughter is already in college and not living at home anymore. My middle daughter who is turning thirteen in a few weeks will be following in her footsteps before I know it, and my eight year old son not long after that. Being present when they are home is important, so being late is ok sometimes.I was busy all day because, well first of all I slept late. Then I forgot I told my daughter I’d take her to Ft. Worth to see a dance competition. She wasn’t competing, but her studio was, so we went to support all her dance friends. I’d already made plans to meet my husband and son at the gym to try to swim laps in the pool since we weren’t able to on Saturday due to lightning. I hurt my knee last week and haven’t been able to get much exercise this week, and I hate that! So anyway, I was planning on doing my self-care thing at the pool, hot tub, sauna, and steam room but instead I spent the rest of the day and evening in Ft. Worth with my daughter. I felt like I gave up what I wanted to do for what she wanted to do, but I decided to put her first. Sometimes being selfless is healthy because it helps to humble ourselves and do things to meet other people’s needs. I absolutely loved watching all the talented dancers on stage, and it was fun for Zoe to see her friends and for me to see their moms. We went to Pei Wei to eat together. Girl time is always fun, and doing mother-daughter activities is healthy for our relationship.

When I got home, I took a long, relaxing bath. It helps my muscles relax, and it helps decrease eczema.  Especially during these colder months, my skin gets so dry and rashy, and my allergist recommended frequent baths and moisturizer.  I also stretched for a while after I got out of the bath to work out some of the kinks in my muscles and joints.  Nothing crazy, just some forward bends, slight back bends, and side to side stretches after some seated leg stretches alternating bending my left and right leg to open up the lower back and hips.  I have to stretch at least a little every day or else I get super stiff!

Music is also good for the soul.  I listen to music all the time. Especially after a long day, I love to soak in the bath tub and push shuffle on my iPhone and listen to whatever songs come up.   I’m in love with Justin Timberlake’s new songs, Suit and Tie, and Mirrors.  Here is a link to the video for Mirrors and an article describing the song:

http://www.policymic.com/articles/30896/justin-timberlake-mirrors-music-video-worth-the-8-minute-length

He recently performed both songs on Saturday Night Live.  It’s his first album in seven years. I’ve been a fan of his since the beginning when he was the lead singer of the boy band, N *Sync.  Over the years, it’s been fun to watch him grow up into an adult as he embarked on both an acting career and a solo singing artist.  My husband and I also love going to see live concerts.  We got to see Justin Timberlake last time he was here in Dallas (touring with Timbaland).

Justin timberlake wiki

Justin timberlake wiki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And last week, we got to see Maroon 5 for the first time. It was an excellent concert.  While they clearly feature Adam Levine, the lead singer, the rest of the band is also quite talented.  My husband said after the show they should have called it the Adam Levine Band because clearly he is the face of the band and most of the performance was focused on him.  I’ve only seen him on television before, from the waist up. I love the shirtless pictures of him and all his tatoos. And although I could tell from his upper body pictures that he is a thin guy, I never noticed before how skinny his legs are (he is also a little bow-legged).  I was also really surprised he kept his shirt on the entire concert because he took off his shirt during the monologue of SNL, and he is quite popular for how he looks sans shirt.  But his voice was amazing, his effort was over 100%, and he along with the rest of the band entertained the crowd for hours with their popular songs.  I was also inspired by his guitar solos.  I think music is a really positive way to improve how you feel any day, especially when there is the opportunity to see it performed live.

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Look at those skinny legs!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Self Care Sunday: Rest/Ice/Compression/Elevation and Positive Thinking

I’m so annoyed because I hurt my knee again at the gym. It’s the right knee that’s already had five surgeries for torn meniscus. I was just talking about how my knee was torn five times already with a friend yesterday. The first time, I was rock climbing. Second time, I was doing step aerobics. Third time, getting off the floor wearing an ankle boot. Fourth time, walking with an ankle boot. Fifth time, putting on my shoes. There isn’t much meniscus left to tear.

It feels like it’s about to blow again. It’s been hurting some lately, so at the gym I decided to stretch, do some PT exercises then get into the pool to swim some laps. It pinched a few times when I was on the floor with the physio ball. When I got up to walk downstairs to the pool, it pinched really sharply. I could barely limp to the locker room and sat down to call my husband to tell him. We left right away and came home. He just had to leave to go out of town for a few days for work, and I’m at home with my knee wrapped and on ice. Planning to stay off it for the rest of the day and hoping it will all just go away.

Rest:
I’m resting for the rest of today. It hurts to walk, but I can put some weight on it. I think the best thing to do is give it a break and let it settle down.

Ice:
Using ice packs to help relieve pain and swelling in the joint.

Compression:
Wrapped my knee in a compression band to help hold it together and put pressure on it.

Elevation:
On the reclining couch with my feet up and right leg on a pillow. Elevation allows the blood to flow out of the extremities, reducing inflammation and swelling.

Positive Attitude:
I could wallow in self-pity right now, but that won’t help me much. I have bad memories of twice tearing meniscus in the same knee so badly, my knee was locked in a bent position for days until I could get in for surgery. I’m afraid that’s about to happen again because I feel the same pinching sensation that comes from meniscus tears. Instead of gliding smoothly when the knee joint moves, it catches on the rough edges and causes pain. My husband tells me to stay positive. It’s not locked in a bent position yet. I don’t know for sure it’s torn yet. So far there is no talk of a sixth surgery yet. While the fear is there, and I anticipate a downward spiral if those fears are confirmed, for now I choose to stay positive. Forgiving myself for not being able to get a good workout today and allowing myself to take the rest of the day to rest.

How are you taking care of yourself today?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Self Care Sunday: Things happy people do differently.

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I found this list and think it offers many ideas on how to take care of ourselves. A few points resonate with me as things I am working on these days.

1. Express gratitude: We can always find reasons to complain, but it’s more of a challenge to be thankful for everything we do have instead of always wanting more.

Looking back over the years since I became a stay home mom, this idea helps me to appreciate the opportunity to stay home instead of going to work and being stressed out all the time. When I have laundry and dishes to do, I feel happier when I look at the chores with gratitude. I am thankful to have a family to take care of and the time to do it. Many women wish they could have children but can’t. Many women wish they could stay home and not work. Although I feel pain most days, I’m thankful I can walk, talk, see, hear, swim and do yoga. Other people have physical problems way worse than mine.

3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparisons: Man, that’s a tough one for me. I’m definitely an over-thinker. And I’m definitely aware of social comparisons. Even when I try not to think that way, someone else will remind me how I am different from most people. And the over-thinking? Well that’s one reason I have a blog. It helps to get my thoughts out so they aren’t just bouncing around in my brain. I’m also a deep thinker, so on a daily basis I have to remind myself not to worry about the unexplainable mysteries of life and to try not to worry about all the horrible things that could happen to me, my husband, or my kids. I infer things when I probably shouldn’t. I get my feelings hurt easily. And once you’ve crossed me, things are never the same. (See #7.)

5. Nurture social relationships: I am a social being. I knew that a long time ago. Since I moved to Texas though, I’ve been suffering from square peg in a round hole syndrome, so to speak. Although it’s easy to isolate myself, I’ve been making a point recently to nurture more relationships with my girlfriends. Spending quality time with the few friends I do have is important to me and gives me things to look forward to.

7. Learn to forgive: It sounds easy in theory and always makes sense. Taking the high road is always the answer no matter what the problem. But there are certain relationships where I have difficulty walking the walk. I know I should forgive, but I have to work past my pride and hurt to do it. I have to learn to forgive although it doesn’t mean the other person was necessarily right. But I do see that holding on to grudges can be toxic, so I am trying one day at a time.

8. Increase flow experiences: I love this one. It’s so important. And I’m happy to report that I do find myself caught up in the flow with certain experiences. It doesn’t happen as much as I’d like it to, but hey one little step at a time, right? When do I experience going with the flow and get so immersed in the activity that I don’t think about anything else? When I’m playing guitar, riding my bike, doing yoga, meditating, and tutoring math. There is nothing like getting caught up in an activity that brings happiness.

11. Practice spirituality: I don’t really practice religion because it pushes buttons from my upbringing when I had Christianity shoved down my throat. But, over the years I’ve learned to appreciate other ways of thinking (like Eastern religions) and have developed a universal view to our existence. I do understand that we are tiny specks of life in a planet in a universe surrounded by space. I’m humbled by my place in the universe, and I do realize that while my life seems so important to me, that I am just a miniscule part of life in the bigger picture. Instead of professing that I know the answers to life and death, I’m learning to accept not knowing. I am learning to trust that life is a process that will continue long after I’m gone, and it brings me some peace to know it’s all part of a bigger picture that I have no control over. All I can do is focus on living my life one day at a time and hope to make some kind of difference in the world while I am here.

What items on this list resonate with you? How are you taking care of yourself today?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Self Care Sunday: girl time, massage, boundaries, and yoga

It’s Self Care Sunday. How are you taking care if yourself today?

I’m breaking from my usual weekend routine at the gym to spend the day with my daughter (12) at her studio’s first dance competition of the season.

Girl time:
Whether it’s spending time with my daughters or with my girlfriends, I think it’s important to take time to celebrate femininity and to have fun together. Guy time is also important for guys, but I’m a girl so that’s what I’m focusing on in this post. Last weekend I spent one-on-one time with my daughter at college (19) and today I am devoting my day to my younger daughter (12). We are watching and cheering on her friends at her dance studio who are competing. I like to support her interests, and I get the chills watching the dances! Yesterday, I took her to her first Chinese foot reflexology massage. We also enjoy going to the nail salon and movies. I like going out with my friends too. My girlfriends and I get together for coffee, happy hour, lunches, and outings like Top Golf, Painting with a Twist, and Boudoir Therapy.

Massage:
Massage is awesome it helps increase circulation, relax muscles and ease tension. There are many styles of massage. Swedish is light pressure mainly for relaxation. I prefer deep-tissue massage since I have knots in my muscles that never go away. In deep-tissue massage, they use their forearms and elbows for added pressure. About a year ago, I discovered Chinese massage. I’d heard of Chinese foot reflexology but never tried it. In Chinese medicine, they believe that different parts of the feet correspond to different body parts. Massaging those points on the feet helps those body parts function better. They also offer full body massages like I’ve never experienced before. It’s medium to firm pressure and they hit specific acupressure points to help energy (chi) flow better through the body.

Boundaries:
I’m talking about interpersonal boundaries. And unfortunately I’m learning the hard way how to keep toxic people and toxic relationships away from my life. There is an expression that we can’t control other people; we can only control ourselves. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions to those things. My relationship with my mom is very difficult, and it really stresses me out to have too much communication with her. I’m doing everything I can to put up a healthy boundary and to make decisions based on what is best for my health regardless of how she behaves toward me or likes what decisions I make. I quit my job almost a year ago because of a toxic work environment. A year later I can look back and be happy about that decision even though it was incredibly upsetting at the time. Sometimes we have to listen to ourselves and make tough decisions. I’ve been learning about the effects of stress on our bodies and overall health, and I think it’s important to do what we can to lower stress in our lives. If that means keeping negative, toxic people at an arm’s length, so be it.

Yoga:
I missed my class at the gym today, but I plan to do some yoga when I get home with a DVD. I have one called “back care yoga” with Rodnee Yee. It’s only about a half hour long, but it feels so good on my back. The video was taken next to the ocean, and I love the sounds of the waves in the background. Yoga is a great low-impact exercise. The stretching is good for flexibility, and holding poses builds strength and stamina. It increases balance and coordination. Yoga also develops the mind, body, spirit connection, helping us to slow down and be mindful our our breath. My favorite part is savasana, the part at the end when we relax, meditate, and close the practice.

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!