A New Year-It’s Not Too Late

We’re one week into a new year and a brand new decade. I hope it has been a beautiful beginning for you. If it hasn’t though, know that that is okay too.

While I spent the holidays in a woodland paradise it was not all blissful days of perfection (though there definitely moments of that). Instead, there were unexpected external stresses that popped up which meant extra work to be done. There were injuries. There was a group of people all navigating their own feelings, wants and needs. And so, I find myself feeling a little late to welcoming 2020 in a way that is right for me.

I need solitude. I need time for meditation, reading,  yoga and reflection. Though I adore being the woods, I have found to my surprise that it is here in my little old house on the prairies that I can get all those things I need. It is here that I can organize my thoughts, then dream and plan for the year (and decade) ahead.

Long ago I gave up making new year’s resolutions. They seem too strict for me. Making them I always felt like I set myself up for failure. Instead I began focusing on my aspirations for a new year. With aspirations it is okay to have a bad day (or week), it is okay to mess up from time to time. I find aspirations allow more freedom on the journey to your goals.

So, today on a cold and windy Saskatchewan day,  one week into 2020 I will finally light a candle, sit down with a cup of Earl Grey tea and dream about the year ahead. I will write down my aspirations for 2020.

If you have yet to give this gift to yourself, I invite you take a few moments over the next few days and put pen to paper for your dreams. Here’s to a year of hope, intention and beauty.

Namaste

Photo by Kristin Vogt http://www.pexels.com/kristingroth2

Morning Ritual-Make a Great Day

Once upon a time I was not a morning person. I saw the early morning just before I went to bed. Yet, over time I have changed and now delight in waking up in the pre-dawn hours. With these early mornings I have found there are little things I like to do when I rise to set the foundation for a great day-my morning ritual.

I confess, when I first awake I do reach for a device. However, I reach for my device, go to my Insight Timer app and start the day with a chant. Om Mani Padme Hum is one of my favourites though sometimes I mix it up. After a quick chant I find a meditation to start the day. The wonderful thing about Insight Timer is you choose the length of time for your meditation and a topic you would like to focus on. I used to think I didn’t have time to meditate, but this app has meditations as short as one minute. Everyone has one minute-no excuses. I used to think I couldn’t meditate, or didn’t like meditating without ever giving it a fair shot. Maybe you hold the same thoughts. Again, no excuses. Commit to trying it for 3 weeks and see what benefits you can reap from this simple act. I started with just one minute once a day.

Once I have finished my chanting and meditation I journey to the kitchen and put on the kettle for tea. My tea of choice is Earl Grey, however for the first morning cup I opt for an herbal or green tea. While waiting for the kettle I step outside, breathe in some fresh are, then take a moment to write in my gratitude journal. In a gratitude journal you simply write 5 things that you are grateful for. Traditionally, I think people suggest doing them before bed. That didn’t work for me so adapted it to what does work for me.

Bringing my steeping tea along, I then go to the yoga mat where I do a little morning yoga. Perhaps I will do a couple poses, perhaps I will do several. The point is not to be strict with yourself. The point is to partake in healthy habits that build a healthy life while at the same to listening to your body and working with your schedule. As I do yoga I enjoy that first cup of tea.

After my yoga my body is awake and energized. I now take part in some form of workout. What kind of work out? Again, it depends. Some days it is a brisk walk with the dog or a bike ride, other days it is BarreAbove, TRX or strength training. Maybe if I really don’t feel in the mood I will do a couple body weight exercises such as squats and push-ups. It doesn’t matter what the work out is or how long, what matters is your moving your body. If you don’t keep moving your body and challenging it, you will find that you begin to lose the ability to do the things you once did, and be plagued by aches and pains and low energy. In my 20s there was a time I didn’t work out and had debilitating back pain and no energy. In my mid 40s I feel much healthier now than I ever did then. Through whatever form of exercise I choose that morning I sip on some water to keep myself hydrated.

Once done the workout I am ready for a little reward and take the time to make my own London Fog. I prep a bowl of fruit and some yogurt for breakfast. As I sit down to eat my breakfast I grab a book to read while eat. Again, with the brain-use it or lose it. I believe we have to challenge our brains for it to stay fit. Reading is a simple yet pleasurable option.

So you might be thinking -chant, meditate, fresh air, gratitude journal, tea, yoga, workout, breakfast, read-I can’t fit all that in. First, I would say, ‘Of course you can’. My whole morning ritual can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the time I have and my motivation that day. Start with small amounts of time for each activity. Secondly, you don’t have to choose every action I take. Start with a handful that most interest you or choose some of your own.

In my experience, morning rituals set the stage for a positive day. The best part of my morning ritual is it is available to everyone. It doesn’t cost money, can be adapted to all ages and abilities, can be done in any home and with whatever time you have.

What does your morning look like? I would love to hear fun, positive ways others start their days. Whatever your morning looks like I hope you are able to make a great day. Namaste.

Photo by Morgan Sessions on Unsplash

Yoga Journeys

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Like most things in my life, my yoga journey hasn’t been a smooth, seamless journey. Though practicing yoga for most of my adult life, I didn’t take the leap to becoming a yoga teacher until I was in my 40s.

I had reasons-not enough time, not enough money, not fit enough, not skinny enough, not flexible enough……..See a theme here? Perhaps the translation is I thought ‘I was not enough’.

And sometimes that is what holds us back the most in many things-our own thinking.

I confess I went into my yoga teacher training full of fear, but determination. Sometimes fear of the unknown can be the biggest fear. Thankfully, the training I took from Namaskar Yoga in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was a welcoming and inclusive environment where all students learned right away we had nothing to fear. In the loving, capable space of Kathleen and Doug we were able to grow and develop on our very own personal yoga journey. Not only did we learn asanas and pranayama, we discovered within ourselves our personal path.

I took these trainings for a weekend every month or two. As I was nearing the end of my training, regret began to creep in. “Why didn’t I do this sooner,” I asked myself. “You should have done this decades ago,” I scolded.

Quickly, I redirected my thoughts acknowledging that this was my yoga journey and it was how it was meant to be. The classes I took were perfect for my style of learning. While many trainings offer intensive classes in a short period of time, the trainings I took were stretched out to over a year long period. This allowed me time to absorb new lessons, integrate them into my soul and my teaching, and allow the knowledge to deepen within me. The people I have met through my training were people I was supposed to meet, become friends with and learn from.

I write this to let you know that you are not alone. Perhaps you are beginning a yoga journey of your own, or somewhere along your personal yoga path. Perhaps sometimes you feel fear, or regret that you didn’t do things sooner or different. I hope it gives you some comfort in knowing that yoga teachers also have these same feelings.

As I take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out, I invite you to do the same. Maybe a moment and a breath is your yoga today. Maybe trying a pose is your yoga. Maybe looking into nearby classes is your yoga. Maybe taking a step outside, noticing the summer day and taking a breath is your yoga. Whatever your yoga is today know that it is good, it is perfect and it is your yoga journey, so relax, be kind to yourself and enjoy your yoga today.