21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 6: Start a New Routine #yogagirlchallenge

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Today, I started my day drinking hot lemon water. I crave coffee first thing, but I made it a priority today to have hot lemon water first. Apparently, it’s healthier to have it on an empty stomach after a night of sleep. I can see that. It’s science. If it works, I will try it. And then I will have coffee haha!

Then, I took my doggies for a walk. Marley is a Boston Terrier (almost 7 years old), and Daisy is a Chihuaua/Hound mix (just turned 1, our rescue puppy). We walk the circle around the neighborhood and take in all the sights and sounds. I love walking my dogs. Sometimes I get lazy because I can open my back door and let them out. So I figure they can run around and take care of business.

I do think it’s better all around if we walk every day. I will try to start this as a new routine. Hot lemon water and a walk with the dogs. Let’s do this!

Thanks for reading this entry Peace out!!

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 3: Rise & Shine! #yogagirlchallenge

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For today’s challenge, Rachel challenged us to set the alarm an hour early, get up and use the time in a healing way of some kind. Incorporating yoga and meditation from days one and two were great ways to use the time. I just happened to need to get up at 5:00am that day, so it was perfect timing for me. I am not a morning person at all but have been working on going to bed earlier and getting up earlier for a few months now. I got up early, drank lemon water then coffee and had a quiet time at my house. After a little while when the sun was going to rise, I took my two dogs out for a walk in the neighborhood. The picture above is from that sunrise walk. It was refreshing to see the sunrise for a change. I usually savor sunsets here in Texas, in fact that day I got to see both the sunrise and the sunset. They were both beautiful.

When I returned home, I did pilates and sat in meditation for a while. It was a wonderful feeling to start the day that way. I was so tired during the day though! I had to take two naps. I don’t think I’ve caught up yet from all the travelling and all the late nights recently. After a week of doing yoga twice a day, I have been craving it in the morning and at night, so I like this idea of getting up a little early so you can get some things done before the day starts.

My kids are on vacation with their dad this week, so it’s an excellent time for me to catch up on my sleep. I keep setting my alarm early with the intention of taking this challenge from day to day, but so far I only did it that one day! Whenever I turn off my alarm and go back to sleep I get another couple hours, so I think my body needs it. I will try to incorporate this idea more in the future when I actually have to get up to get somewhere.

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 5: Get Rid of a Bad Habit #yogagirlchallenge

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I’m working on being early instead of running late. It was the perfect kind of morning for staying in bed and staying at home. It rained all night, and thunder woke me up in the morning. Heavy, loud thunder every few minutes with rain pouring on the house and down the street and flash flood warnings indicated it was not a great day to go outside and do anything. But, I love my yin yoga class on Sunday mornings, and since I’m doing Rachel Brathen’s challenge, I’m committed to doing yoga every day and incorporating as many of the daily challenges into my life. Yin yoga is mostly meditative, so it was a great mix of days one and two of the challenge. While I didn’t exactly wake up early (day three) I did get to class early.

Yoga classes at my gym, Lifetime Fitness, are not on island time. Class starts on time, and the door closes. If there is room in the class, they will open the door again after meditation at the beginning of class, but most of the time classes are full. Being late means missing the class. In fact, they advise getting there ten minutes early. Yogis line up at the door and wait to get a spot. Getting there early means extra meditation time at the beginning of class for me. I like to lie down on my mat, put a small towel over my eyes, and relax while I wait for class to start.

21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 2: Meditate #yogagirlchallenge

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Elements of Meditation:
1. Closed eyes
2. Nostril breathing
3. Observation of bodily sensations
4. Letting go of thoughts

I first learned about meditation when I took a Buddhism class in college in 1988. We met for group meditation and tea in addition to classes. It was a little awkward and uncomfortable at first. It was hard to sit still with my eyes shut without feeling self-conscious.

Since then, I’ve mainly meditated during yoga classes. I also try to incorporate it into my life by doing lying down meditation before bed and taking advantage of the peace and quiet in the sauna and steam room at the gym to find some meditative moments.

Going along with this challenge and my experience at the yoga retreat in Aruba last week, I am working on keeping my morning yoga habit and ending it with seated meditation. It’s a peaceful, calming way to start the day.

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Buddha sat under a bodhi tree until he reached enlightenment.

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To do seated meditation, cross the legs and put the hands on the knees. Hands can be in an upward position for receiving or in a downward position for grounding. Or the hands can make a mudra or shape of some kind. Quiet the mind. Let go of thoughts without judgement. Bring attention to the breath. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly. Repeat a mantra, count breaths, or think of nothing like still water. As thoughts enter the mind, let them go like ripples in the water until the water is still again. Or let thoughts go like clouds drifting across the sky. No judgements, just acknowledgement and detachment. Stay silent and still for a few minutes to start then increase over time.

There are many benefits of meditation. It calms the nervous system and helps develop a sense of inner peace. It helps balance our active lives and allows us to be present in the moment, not in the past, not worry about what’s happening next, fully present in the moment. Meditation connects us to the energy in the universe and allows us to open up chakras, energy centers, in our bodies.

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Thinking about not thinking is a paradoxical practice that leads to a healthy, happy , calm, zen mindset. Meditation helps us find our center and be grounded. It’s a useful exercise every day and prepares us to handle stress in our lives.

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 1: Yoga Every Damn Day #yogagirlchallenge

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Doing Yoga every day is the first challenge. I think I can do it! I’ve been doing a little bit of yoga every day for a while now. It doesn’t mean I make it to my mat or put on a dvd or attend class every day, but I do gentle stretches every day, and I think that counts!

I’ve been working on touching my toes to the back of my head in pidgeon pose. About a year ago, I was able to open to the side and grab my foot. Then I learned how to bind my hands putting my foot into my elbow. With the help of a strap, I’m arching my back and working toward bringing my toes to my head.

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A simple child’s pose and some gentle cat/cow stretches before bed help to calm the nervous system and to deepen the breath. Savasana, or corpse pose, even counts. Lying still and letting go of thoughts and bringing attention to the breath is doing yoga just as much as sweating it out in a hot vinyasa class is. They are just different. That’s one thing I love about yoga. I can modify and go as far as I want to with my practice on any given day. Some days, I feel like I want the 75 minute hot vinyasa class with sweat pouring out of my pores and every muscle exerted and challenged with the flows the teacher presents. Other days, I want the exact opposite: a slow, meditative, restorative yin yoga practice. Sometimes, I don’t make it to the yoga studio at my gym and I use DVDs at home to practice. Again, there is variety from back care yoga to core yoga, and ashtanga and vinyasa flows. In either case, there is stretching and strengthening in the body, a calm attention to the breath and connection to the universe in the mind and spirit. Sometimes I will stretch and do yoga poses in public. Whenever the mood hits me is a good time for yoga!

My Yin Yoga teacher taught the seven axioms of yoga in class:

1. You are exactly where you are supposed to be
2. Fear and pain are life’s greatest teachers
3. Laughter and play are the keys to the fountain of youth
4. Exercise and rest are the keys to vibrant health
5. Touch and intimacy are basic human needs
6. Everything is impermanent
7. Everything is connected

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2010/10/06/7-universal-truths/#ixzz3AgEu4hi3

There is a connection between mind, body, and spirit when we practice yoga. We learn to experience life to the fullest and let go of the past. We learn that we are all one and celebrate each day of life, to drop baggage and drama from our lives.

I took my first yoga class my freshman year of college in 1986. I’ve done it off and on over the years and plan to continue practicing for a long time.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

#handstand365 days 45-113 What I’ve Learned from Doing 113 Handstands

I started doing handstands in May 2013.  That was ten months ago.  I started doing them as another way to challenge myself.  Since then, friends ask, “What’s with the handstands? Is this like the new planking?”  I didn’t know how to do yoga handstands when I started or that I would learn some life lessons along the way…

1.  Have fun every day.

2.  I am strong enough. I can do it.

3.  Mind over matter.  My body won’t do anything my mind doesn’t tell it to.

4.  Even if it’s hard, try again.

5.  Be at peace with yourself.  Let things be the way they are.  You can’t change other people anyway.

6.  When people walk away, let them go.  It’s their issue, not mine.

7.  Meditation is like a bubble bath for the mind. It’s so soothing and so good for our brains to enjoy silence.

8.  Breathe. No matter what.  If things are stressful, breathe even more deeply and slowly.

9. Accept new challenges.

10.  Believe in myself.

11.  Give as much energy to my dreams as I do to my fears.

12.  Pay attention to form, find center, and balance.

13.  Who cares what other people think?

14.  Who made up the rules anyway?

15.  Find inner peace and things start to fall into place.

16.  Don’t let anyone else take away my inner peace. I can remain calm despite the circumstances.

17. Practice self-love. Do something to take care of myself every day. Be kind to myself.

18. Worrying about things doesn’t help so why bother?

19. Do what makes me happy!

20. It’s ok to take breaks and rest whenever tired. I don’t always have to be doing something. If I get more sleep I feel better anyway.

21.  It’s helpful to look at things from a different perspective sometimes.

Looking forward to the next couple hundred handstands! So thankful for the experience so far.

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30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 30 Love

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Love is spending a long weekend with my college daughter and then having to say goodbye. Twenty is such an in-between age. Clearly mature and grown up enough to live independently and go to college, yet too young to fully take control of life and all its responsibilities and demands. We are all getting used to her first summer living away from home. For us, it means twelve months this year of only two kids at home. For her, it means working to pay rent in addition to taking summer classes. I spent several days with her, doing the things that mothers do, going grocery shopping, helping take care of errands and scheduling appointments etc. We had long talks about school, work, and friendships. It made me feel needed as a mother, and I hope it helped her feel less all alone in a big world and that her family is here to support her all the time. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was a heartwarming feeling knowing my presence made a difference. I’m also super proud of her and her hard work and happy to see her growing into an independent woman.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 29 Something New

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This is a picture of a new drink I discovered at Chili’s. It’s a Patron Margarita with just lime juice and agave nectar (without the Grand Marnier). I don’t usually drink margaritas because I don’t care for the sticky-sweet high fructose corn syrup sweetened lemon/lime mixers that are found so frequently in stores and restaurants. A friend of mine who is also watching her sugar intake (I have an intolerance) calls these types of drinks “skinny” margaritas and first turned me on to the fact that bars offer them. I had previously given up on drinking bar drinks because of all my allergies/intolerances and was sticking with white wine, Chardonnay. However, it does get a little boring to only drink wine, so it made me very happy to find this new drink while visiting my daughter at college.

Because I have a gluten sensitivity, I don’t drink beer or liquors distilled through wheat like whiskey. Vodka and gin are also distilled through grains, often using corn, which I also have a sensitivity too. I’ve heard of some potato vodkas, but I’m not savvy to which brands they are, and it’s just easier to steer clear of them than it is to experiment and get sick because I drank the wrong thing. Tequila comes from the agave plant, so it’s the one liquor I know it’s ok to drink occasionally. I like shots of tequila, but I’m not sure they like me. They are so strong, and I usually get a bit crazy and do things that I will regret the next day. The skinny margarita with just tequila, lime juice, and agave is a great new option for me (I just have to be careful there isn’t corn in the lime juice).

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 28 Something Old

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Oh boy, it’s a little embarrassing to share this picture, but the prompt called for something old. I was out of town that day. And I was surrounded by new things in my daughter’s nice apartment across the street from her college campus. All day I looked for something old to take a picture of and came up short. So, since I had this picture on my phone, I decided it fit ok. This is my eighth grade yearbook picture taken during the 1981-1982 school year. As you can see the feathered back hair was popular then, and I was also right in the middle of three years of braces. That was a fun year of my life, but its also the year I started getting into trouble and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Glad I made it through those rough adolescent years!

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!