Posted in Lifestyle

The Gifts Yoga Has Given Me

lotus flower

In the past few years, I have become a pretty serious yogini, although I have taken breaks from my practice I have learned so much about myself through the process. Here are just a few of the lessons I have learned:

How you are in your practice is how you are in your life. Yoga has given me a new understanding of how I respond to challenges and obstacles. In practice when I come to a new pose or balance that I find challenging my first response is criticism, and then I criticize myself for being critical, and THEN I reach openness. After much practice, I am now less critical of myself when I come to a challenge that I can’t conquer right away. In my life, I have also learned to be less critical and to approach challenges in a new way. Instead of assuming that I will fail, I step back and appreciate my strengths and my ability to achieve my goals.

tree pose

Your mind is like a file cabinet. This is a metaphor I used a lot when I was working as a middle school counselor. I would ask students to think of their mind as a file cabinet with a trash can right next to it on the floor. Then I would ask them for some examples of files they would keep and files they would get rid of. Fear, anxiety, negativity, and resentment are examples of files that can stick in our minds if we give them a place there. Or we can choose to throw them in the trash and declutter the file cabinet in our minds. Hope, joy, ease and peace are files we can focus on and keep forever, they never clutter up our minds but help us to stay organized and clear headed. When a file starts to clutter up your mind imagine throwing it away in the trash can and make room for the files that will increase joy and ease. This is easier said than done and takes practice, but it has been a great visual for me!

file cabinet

Embrace the process. Anyone who has practiced yoga with any regularity will know the joy and bliss of reaching savasana. This is the pose at the end of your practice where you lay on your back and close your eyes. But the only way that you can really appreciate the bliss of this pose is if you have challenged yourself throughout your practice. It is so satisfying to lay in savasana knowing that you just conquered a new pose or stretched a little further than last time. I have learned this valuable lesson and have begun to apply it to my everyday life. Although the process is not alway easy or even enjoyable, the end result of hard work and dedication makes it worthwhile.

Discomfort and pain are two very different things. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to slow down or stop because whatever you’re doing could be hurting you. Discomfort is something that I have learned to recognize and I ask myself in that moment what is causing the discomfort. There is a good chance, especially in yoga, that discomfort is coming from a pose that I am trying for the first time, from feeling tired or frustrated. And none of these is a good enough reason to stop. Trying things for the first time is difficult, but I can accept that I might look silly or not get it right. Being tired is a sign that I am working hard and frustration should be a motivator to keep trying.

What gifts has yoga given you?

lotus flower. digital image. 18 Apr 2017.
yin yang yoga. digital image. Smithers Yoga Loft. 18 Apr 2017.
file cabinet. digital image. Overstock. 18 Apr 2017.
Posted in Lifestyle

Happy International Women’s Day!

Just some thoughts on International Women’s Day, better late then never!

One thing I love about Russia: International Women’s Day is a non-labor holiday and has been since 1965. This means that most banks, schools and official buildings are closed. I am ashamed to say that I have not taken much of an interest in this holiday until now, I’m not sure why. I want to say it’s because it wasn’t as widely recognized in the U.S. as it is in Russia but I’m not sure if that’s true. Maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention. However, I’m trying to make up for that now by getting informed and involved.

I pledged to #BeBoldForChange and I hope you will too! This step is not only meant for women, guys should get involved as well! To me this means using this and other platforms to recognize women and the difference they have made in the world. If nothing else, follow the link above and go to the IWD website. It is full of information about women who have changed the world and what this day celebrates. Here are just a few examples of some of the larger than life women I admire and:

I love this video:  #likeagirl. To me it is so sad that growing up I heard ‘you run like a girl’ used as an insult. I may have even used it myself at some point. This video is such a perfect example of how our ideas and perceptions of girls should change. Being fast or excelling at something should should not be a condition of your gender.

Women who work hard and achieve their dreams are to be looked up to and admired, not belittled.

How are you celebrating International Women’s Day?

Posted in Lifestyle

What’s saving your life right now?

Today on the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog, Anne talked about what’s saving her life. Meaning what is getting her through these dreary winter months and helping her to stay positive. I am so appreciative of this post, it brought me back to the present and is helping me to notice all of the wonderful things going on in my life right now, instead of focusing on what I’m not doing or what I’m missing out on.

So here is my list:

  1. My sister is getting married in July (yay!) and I’m in the process of planning her bachelorette party at the beginning of June. There are ten of us renting a lake house in South Haven, Michigan for a weekend of relaxing and celebrating the bride to be. My sister is THE most kind and easygoing person on the planet (possibly in the entire galaxy) and she has made everything so easy and fun. Having things to look forward to always keeps me going.
  2. Italy!!! We are planning a trip to Italy (Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Florence) for the end of February. I don’t know if I will ever get used to this whole international lifestyle, being a Midwest girl born and raised, but I am definitely feeling fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to new and exciting places.
  3. AWO (American Women’s Organization) Meetings/lunches/hangouts. The women I have met through this organization have been a HUGE reason why Moscow is starting to feel like home to me. The minute I walked into my first AWO meeting I felt welcome and like I had instant friends. Spending time with these women, at meetings and social events, is always a good time and always lifts my spirits.
  4. Oh yeah, being in Moscow. Living overseas has always been something on my bucket list. I wasn’t sure how it would happen or even if it would happen. Now that I am here, sometimes I am just in awe of the experience. While living here has brought me out of my comfort zone, I’m so grateful for this experience and the perspective it has granted me.
  5. My health/ability to be active. While some days I am just happy if I can drag myself to the gym and spend ten minutes on the treadmill, for the most part I am getting faster and stronger, and continuing to push myself. Since my knee injury last summer, I have had to take a step back from running and yoga but I am still able to exercise and stay in shape, and I am grateful for that every day.
  6. Cat videos. I’m not joking, they might be low on the list but they are hilarious and wonderful.
  7. The luxury of time. Being able to journal, read, work out, try new recipes and just appreciate this experience.

Making this list was like a form of therapy for me, and I encourage you to make a list of what’s saving your life right now!