Three Things I Learned When I Almost Died

 

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Celebrating my birthday with family and friends in the spring of 1998–one of the few times I actually left my bed, while recovering from a near fatal car accident. 

Nineteen years ago today, a man named Freddy saved my life. Freddy was an EMT–the first to arrive at the scene of a devastating car crash. I was severely injured in the crash, and the doctors who cared for me after said it was a miracle that I survived. I had to be resuscitated three times, and was rushed to a nearby hospital in the minutes that followed. I was in critical care for eleven days, before being moved to regular hospital room.

The impact broke bones all over my body, including my C2, my shoulders, my collarbone, and my pelvic bone. I spent three weeks in the hospital afterwards. It took that long for me to get stabilized, learn how to walk again, and finally breathe without artificial support.

I was heavily medicated during the recovery, and because of the meds (or maybe it was the closed head injury?), my memories are blurry at best. What I do remember vividly from that time, however, is the excrutiating pain in my side from the chest tube that was inserted above my right ribs. I also recall tears streaming down my face, as the nurses forced me to stand up and walk around my hospital room. I remember doubling over every time I had to cough, or my family tried to make me laugh, because my broken ribs were stabbing my insides. The rest, however, is pretty foggy.

I do have clear memories of coming home from the hospital, though. I had limited mobility, and time dragged in the three months after my release.

The recovery process was brutal. I had a lot of support, thankfully, from my family, our church, and our friends, but it was still overwhelming.  I wondered how life could ever be the same.

I eventually made a full recovery, although I still live with some chronic pain. The thing that helped the most?  Discovering the healing discipline of yoga. I found yoga (or maybe it found me?) five months after almost losing my life, and it transformed me forever.

That first class was ridiculously difficult, but when it was over, I felt like a completely different person. I knew I was onto something, and started practicing yoga every day at home, with videos. In the next few months, yoga slowly helped me reclaim my strength and my flexibility. I suddenly had muscles where I had not had muscles before–YASS! People said I looked strong, something I had never been told before. And, I actually felt strong, physically, mentally, and spiritually–stronger than ever before. My moods improved, and I finally felt happy again. I fell in love with meditation, and learned some pretty cool new ways to breathe. The more I practiced yoga, the happier I felt, and I wondered why I hadn’t tried this before?

Looking back, I feel like I finally have perspective on the journey. I was given a second chance at life, and in the process learned three important lessons:

1. Life happens in the present moment. Prior to the crash, I spent a lot of time lamenting the past, and worrying about what might happen in the future. But, being stuck in bed, unable to move, for months on end, I could think of nothing but what was happening right then and there. It changed my brain, to be entirely focused on recovery, taking life one breath at a time. As I got into yoga, the message was the same–be here now, because the present moment is the only thing you can control. As I learned how to be more present, I felt more connected to my life and the people around me than ever before.

2. We are all connected in our struggles. Before I got into yoga, I was hyper-aware of my struggles, and how they affected me. I thought I was the only one who felt this way or that. By taking yoga classes, though, I started to see that everyone is struggling in some way–even the people doing crazy handstands were breathing and shaking! I realized that yoga is hard for everyone, and it’s pretty much a metaphor for life. Everyone struggles with something in life, and it is important to look for these similarities, more than our differences. Yoga philosophy teaches that any idea of being separate is merely illusion. We are all the same at our core.

3. We can’t get happy, we can only be happy. During my recovery, I often thought, “I will be happy when I am fully recovered”. But even after the doctors gave me a clean bill of health, I was still incredibly depressed, and focused on what I had lost. Except when I was on my yoga mat. I felt happy during yoga, because my teacher taught me to quiet my mind, and be the witness to what was really happening. To look for the beautiful more than the ugly. Both coexist always, and we can be happy simply by controlling our thoughts. We have the power to choose happiness in every moment, and push away the thoughts that don’t serve us. Connecting with the bliss within is where it’s at!

Almost two decades have passed since the crash that almost took my life, and a lot has changed. I am grateful to be alive, and inspired by the lessons I have learned. I challenge you to put them into action–foster awareness, seek connections, and choose happiness. There’s so much waiting for you on the other side, and most of it is better than you ever imagined.

~Namaste and love to all~

FullSizeRender 8.jpgOur family 19 years later, with Rev. Don Harp, one of the many angels who flew to my side, offering support and love after the crash, and beyond.

Rejoice In The Way Things Are

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MONDAY MANTRA: Rejoice in the way things are.

There is an important distinction between happiness and excitement. So often in life we think, if I only had this or that, I would be happy. The truth is that we already have everything we need to be happy.

Happiness comes from being connected to who we are. It is the byproduct of believing that everything is exactly as it should be. Good things happen, bad things happen. It all works together to teach us to appreciate the blessings in our life. When we are grateful, we feel happy.

Happiness is very different than excitement. Excitement is what we feel when when we achieve a goal, or receive something that we feel we are lacking, such as a new car, a promotion, an invitation to a party.

Unlike happiness, excitement is not sustainable, because it is dependent on circumstances. Happiness is only dependent on self-awareness. It is what we feel when see ourselves with clarity, and remember that we each serve an important, unique purpose in the world.

At our core, we all want the same things–to know that we are seen, that we are heard, and that we matter.  This is what makes us happy, and it’s not something that we can buy or be given. It lies in how we see the world.

When we believe that we already have everything we need to be happy within, the whole world belongs to us.

I Am Peace

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MONDAY MANTRA: I am peace.

December is, for many of us, the busiest time of year. Ironically, though, it is also the time of year that we talk most about peace on earth and goodwill to men. So, how do we reconcile the demands and extremes of the holidays, with our fundamental hope for peace?

By recognizing that peace is not something to wish for in the future. It is not some elusive ideal that we can only hope to achieve. Peace is a state of mind, a choice we make to practice ahimsa (non-violence) in every moment of every day.

Ahimsa is one of the highest values in the yogic practice. It is much further-reaching than physical non-violence. Ahimsa teaches us to refrain from negativity in all aspects of our life, including our actions, speech, and thoughts, about ourselves and others.

Every single one of us can be peace, by reminding ourselves that peace is a state of being. Any time it feels out of reach, use the mantra “I am peace” to remind yourself that peace is a who you are at your core. No matter how circumstances in life may change, peace is something that is always waiting within, ready to be revealed and shared with others.

What Would You Do, If You Were Not Afraid?

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Two years ago, my friend Jennifer asked me to teach a lunchtime yoga class at her small business, Eclipse Post, Inc. It’s a small video post-production house, that does work for many of the major national networks.

Jennifer originally told everyone that lunchtime yoga was a perk for her clients, but now tells me that she secretly wanted it for herself as well. As a wife, mother of two, and small business owner, she was finding it hard to get to yoga classes after work…even though she knew she really needed it!

I jumped at the opportunity, and have been teaching at Eclipse Post, Inc. ever since. I seriously love these yogis–practicing with them is a gift for all of us! They are an inspiring group of people, always willing to try new things. I tell them every week that they are capable of more than they know, and that the secret to happiness is learning to let go of our plans, so we can have the life that is waiting for us.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if they actually believe me. Do they see themselves, the way I see them? Do they know that everything they hope for is possible, when they trust the struggle?

I got a message on Wednesday night that provided a resounding YES! They get it. Without any formal training, one of my Eclipse Post students, Nicole, made herself into a teacher. When her plans to be a student fell through, Nicole trusted herself to lead a yoga class, in the middle of Central Park at Atlantic Station, in front of a bunch of strangers.

She believed she could, and so she did! I know it was not easy–teaching yoga for the first time is terrifying for everyone–but they tell me she owned it, and empowered a lot of other people in the process.

This is what this crazy healthy life is all about! Leaning into our fears, claiming our roles as leaders, trusting our struggles, and believing that everything is possible.

So the question is, what would you do, if you weren’t afraid? Check out Nicole’s story, and let it inspire you to overcome your fears, so you might claim the bigger, brighter life that is waiting for you!

Namaste~

Amber

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100 Days of Crazy Healthy Week 2

How did you do with Week 1 of 100 Days of Crazy Healthy? By now, you should be a little more comfortable with your morning routine and the Sun Salutations.  Week 2 will be exactly like the first, with the addition of a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast every morning. If you are not in the habit of making smoothies, this may take a few extra minutes, about 2-4 to gather ingredients, blend, and wash the blender afterward.

Daily Habits For Week 2

1. Upon waking, scrape your tongue from front to back with a spoon, or tongue scraper. This will remove the ama (toxins) that have built up in your mouth over night. Rinse your mouth with water, being careful to not swallow any of the water, and brush your teeth afterward.

2. Drink 12 oz. of warm, filtered water, before consuming food. You may add lemon or lime to the water if you would like.

3. Practice 5 B series Sun Salutations*, moving intentionally on each inhale and exhale, as shown in the photo from Week 1. Don’t rush, and don’t think about anything besides the breath and the pose. This will feel difficult, if you are new to yoga, but reject this idea in favor of doing the work. For those who have practiced yoga before, doing 5 Sun Salutations every day may feel boring–do it anyway and trust the process. Play the music you love, or use my playlists on Spotify. Make it a moving meditation. Changes will happen on such a deep level in your body, that you won’t even be aware that you are being transformed. It’s a beautiful thing! It is preferable to practice in the morning before showering, but this may be done at night, if necessary. Do whatever it takes, to complete this task every day! Don’t allow yourself to crawl into bed at night, until it is done. It takes me exactly one minute to complete a B Series Sun Salutation, using full inhales and exhales, and it should be the same for you, so this is a 5 minute exercise.

4. Drink a Crazy Healthy Smoothie for breakfast each morning. Crazy Healthy Smoothies are balanced meals, prepared with awareness and intention to fuel the body. We include pure fruit juice, sweet and sour whole fruit, greens, healthy fat, and protein, for an energizing start to our day. It helps to think about smoothies from an ayurvedic perspective: how many flavors can we fit into one meal? Mixing sweet and sour fruits with bitter veggies, pungent nut butters, and spicy herbs (think ginger and cayenne) can help us start the day off feeling energizing and ready to tackle the world.  Learn how to make Crazy Healthy Smoothies here. 

5. Find daily inspiration to keep fighting the fight on my Facebook page. I will share quotes, and ancient wisdom to support the habits we are creating.

You can do this! It may seem too difficult to some, and too simple to others, but either way, trust the struggle. Don’t think, just do. I’m here to help, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions.

 

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When Kids Don’t Eat Their Lunch, It’s Not About The Food

My friend, Cindy, has two precious young boys who adore her, but don’t always love the healthy lunches she packs for school. Feeling frustrated by their ever-changing attitudes, she reached out for a little help with “packing a week of healthy lunches the kids will actually eat.”

At first, it sounded like she was asking for a list of foods, and maybe some recipes, but after a few emails back and forth, it became clear that Cindy’s lunchbox challenge was not about the food at all. It was about something much bigger.

The conversation turned to psychology. We talked about how, just like adults, kids can have complicated relationships with food. Their beliefs, preferences, and actions are colored by every experience they have ever had with food….from nursing, to first foods, to yesterday’s snack. It’s essential to keep this in mind, as we teach our kids about nutrition. What we send for lunch, is not as important as how our kids feel about the experience before, during and after their lunch break.

So, keeping this in mind, here are some ways that we can help our kids embrace their healthy lunchbox:

1. Set boundaries, for yourself and for your kids. Talk about them often, and stand your ground. As much as they may protest, kick and scream, the one thing kids want most from their parents is boundaries. They need to know that you are in charge. Because, how scary would it be, to be a kid and be in charge? Unlike your kids, you have the experience, knowledge, and tools necessary for leading your family in healthy habits. So, be the leader your kids want you to be…explain what is acceptable and what is not, and enforce the rules with compassion, love and grace.

2. Let it be their idea. Clean out your cabinets of foods you don’t want your kids to eat, and take them shopping for better choices. Stick to the produce and health food aisles, and ask them to pick what they would like for snack, lunch, etc. Fill the cart with brightly colored fruits and veggies first. Ask which whole foods they like best. Which new foods would they like to try? Teach kids how to read labels. And give them opportunities to demonstrate what they have learned, by asking questions about what they chose and why. Encourage them to be leaders at the lunch table, by talking about what your family values about food. Most of all, have fun, be inquisitive, and enjoy the journey.

3. Let kids plan the meals. Would your kids be more likely to eat meals that they chose themselves? Ask them to help you make a lunchbox plan for the week. Remind them of the boundaries (75% fruits and vegetables, more color than white foods, or whatever your rules might be), and see what they come up with. It’s okay if their plan isn’t exactly what you hoped for the first week…pack it anyway. This is a process, and it takes time! The following week, challenge them to increase the nutrient density of their meal plan by adding more fresh foods, colorful foods, etc. Do it again the following week, and every week after, until you are both satisfied. It won’t be long before you both feel better.

4. Get creative in the kitchen. There are a lot of simple, yummy, healthy foods your kids can create on their own. Set out bags of nuts, dried fruit, and seeds, and ask if they’d like to make a trail mix for tomorrow’s lunch. Set out bowls of chopped fruit, and invite them to make a fruit salad to pack. Or maybe they would like to make cinnamon spiced apples with you? Or healthy no-bake cookies, made from oats, cinnamon, raisins and honey? The options for simple recipes are endless, and preparing food together is a great way to connect with kids.

5. Practice non-attachment. Does it bother you when your kids don’t eat their lunch? Do you get rattled when they say they like humus one day, but not the next? From our perspective, as parents, these are really frustrating experiences, especially when we are trying our best to instill good habits (and we don’t want food to go to waste). However, from a kid’s perspective, this is just part of the learning process. They are figuring things out, and it takes time. This is why it’s important to take a deep breath and try something different, when things don’t go as expected. And remember, it’s not just about the food with kids, it’s also about your relationship with them. The less attached you are to outcome, the less of a power struggle it will be, and the more the conversation can be about the right thing to do, instead of what Mom wants him or her to do.

So…if like Cindy, packing healthy lunches feels like one big struggle, loosen the reigns a little. Remember that teaching kids good habits is not a linear process. It’s complicated, but with a little intention, and a lot of love, we can inspire our kids to become the healthy eaters we always hoped they would be.

photo copy 27Me and my picky eaters, ringing in the new year at the beach

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Yoga Is Full Of Surprises

photo copyI guess I thought that, after fifteen years on my mat, I would know everything I needed to know about yoga. Thankfully, it doesn’t work that way. Yoga is full of surprises, no matter how many years we practice.

Yesterday was the perfect example. I was practicing at Green Monkey in Miami, FL with an instructor named Joey Corona. It was my first time in my class, and I knew little about him, other than he seemed to live his yoga, and I liked his teaching style and sense of humor.

Our bodies were warm from half a dozen sun salutations, by the time Joey moved us into hip openers. That familiar instinct was growing…I was ready to fly. You see, I’ve been working on arm balances almost every day this year, and I just can’t get enough. Once I finally figure a new pose out, I want to play with it even more. I find it wildly empowering to stand on my hands.

Truthfully, there’s also an element of ego involved. But it’s not what you might think. It’s not ego in the sense of “Look at me, I’m awesome!”, but more like “I can do this really hard thing and I don’t need anyone else’s help.”

I’m aware of that side of myself…the one that thinks she has all the answers, but yoga has taught me to ignore her on my mat. And because of this, I tuned her out, and asked for help, when Joey said, “now you can move from the lunge into the balance, if you’ve got it.”

I knew how to get into an arm balance from a lunge, but something told me he could make it better. I called him over, and asked him to look at my alignment.

What happened next was so unexpected, and wonderful, that I’ll never forget it.

Joey started rattling off instructions: “Ground through your left foot, reach your left hand to your right foot.”

What is he talking about? That’s not how you get into Koundinyasana!

I couldn’t question him, though, because he was still teaching a class, with twenty other people in it (including my hubby, on the mat next to me!). I fought the urge to move into Koundinyasana (Running Man Pose), which was what I wanted to do, and let him take me somewhere unfamiliar.

It felt tight, and awkward, and I worried that I might fall. And then, all of a sudden, I was in Vishvamitrasana, aka Balancing Side Angle.

The pose I thought I couldn’t do. The one I have been working on for a year, but haven’t been able to get. I was there, in the pose…and it was so surprising, I laughed out loud.

I finally got it! Months and months of work all led up to this one moment of surrendering to what was possible, and it made me happy. Blissfully, joyfully, overwhelmingly happy.

Not because I finally “own” the pose (although it is fun), but because I prepared for it, and when the time was right, I surrendered enough to let it happen.

This is the promise of yoga. On our mats, day after day, we learn to stop seeking, and be still, so the things we want most can find ultimately find us.

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The 6th Discipline of Yoga: Where Meditation Begins


Believe it or not, I was in a sorority when I was in college. I proudly wore the wine and silver blue, and chanted the Pi Beta Phi creed, every monday night at Chapter Dinner:

“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.”

I didn’t go to church when while I was away at school, so chanting these words from Philippians was the closest I got to scripture during four of the most transformative years of my life. I’d like to say that this weekly reminder to think virtuous thoughts kept me honest, but like most people, I had more than a few ungodly moments in my college days.

Now that I know what I know about dharana, the sixth limb of yoga, I wish had taken these words to heart during those years, and actually spent time contemplating what was virtuous, and what was worthy of praise, and less time losing my soul at mixers and keg parties.

The word dharana means concentration. It is the act of focusing our mind on a word, or a set of words, that we would like to absorb into our soul, in preparation for connecting with God. We practice it in savasana or seated meditation, and it really is as simple as it sounds. We tune out the world around us, and focus our minds on the mantra we have chosen to meditate upon.

Dharana is where meditation begins, and where a lot of confusion arises about whether Christians should practice yoga at all. Yoga arose from Hindu and Buddhist traditions, so it is true that dharana was originally practiced by chanting verses from eastern scriptures. But that was then, and this is now, and other religions have explored yoga as a practice that deepens relationships with God. Personally, I don’t see any reason why dharana cannot be a Christian practice.

Words are just words, and they don’t actually mean anything until we associate a meaning with them. God knows our hearts, and by focusing our mind on His words, such as peace, love, forgiveness, and salvation, we draw closer to Him.

Perhaps more importantly, I believe, with all my heart, that God wants us to practice dharana. He gave us beautiful psalms, and insightful parables, and timeless wisdom. Why wouldn’t He be thrilled if we chose to dedicate time each day to think on these things? They are powerful, and we honor Him by purposefully focusing on His guidance through the fifth limb of yoga, dhrarana.

Namaste,

Amber

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Photo: jimmiescollage.com

Discipline And Dharma

544954_447580958662894_1146899417_nI had an epiphany last night. I realized that this blog is not as much about letting go & living well, as it is about discipline & dharma.

Because, if I have learned anything in 15 years on my mat, it is that discipline is the path to living a purposeful life. Or, as yogis like to say, fulfilling our dharma. Fulfilling our dharma makes us happy, and that is a beautiful thing.

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I thought discipline was a dirty word before I got into yoga. Why would anyone do the same thing, day after day? What could be more boring?

I liked having the freedom to do whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and not feel guilty about it. I wanted to be able to run, if I wanted to run. To swim if I wanted to swim. And to blow it all off, when I wasn’t in the mood to exercise.

Yoga changed all that. In 1998, I discovered that a little bit of yoga, every day, changed my body, my mind, and my spirit, more rapidly than I thought possible. I started seeing muscles in places I had never had muscles before, my battle with migraines got easier, and I felt more connected to God. I also craved healthy food for the first time ever, and spent less and less time in front of the TV with a pint of Haagan Dazs.

Little by little, and practice by practice, yoga shifted everything I believed about myself, and the world around me. I learned to reject the voices that told me it was ok to skip a day, and embraced the idea that daily discipline makes me happy. It really, truly did, and it still does, after 15 years.

Why did I experience such profound changes? Because, as I eventually learned, yoga is the most efficient practice for uniting the mind, body and soul. I realized that without it, my life felt fractured. With it, however, I incrementally found my way to becoming whole. Yoga became a foundation for living my life on purpose.

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I was “getting into yoga”, around the same time that Rick Warren made a lot of money teaching us about The Purpose Driven Life. It was the late 1990s, and Rev. Warren challenged us to answer to the question, “What On Earth Am I Here For?”

I remember thinking, as I read Rev. Warren’s book, that this is the exact same question yogis have been asking for thousands of years, in pursuit of their dharma.

Yogis believe that there are eight specific disciplines that help us fulfill our dharma. They are known as The Eight Limbs, and are outlined in great detail in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Here’s what they mean in a nutshell:

1. Interact with others ethically.

2. Treat ourselves respectfully.

3. Prepare our physical body for stillness.

4. Breathe with awareness and intention.

5. Release attachments that interfere with our relationship with God.

6. Cultivate self-awareness.

7. Meditate.

8. Seek unity with God.

This might sound like rhetoric to some, but anyone who has a daily yoga practice will tell you that it’s very real, and it works. When we repeat these practices, over and over again, with intention and awareness, we discover who we are, and how we are supposed to live.

Isn’t that we all want? To know why we are here, and what we are supposed to do with our time on earth?

We all struggle with discipline…it’s human nature. It’s also human nature, however, to be resilient. Trust the struggle, reject the voices that tell you that you can’t, and just do it. Go create yourself!

If you are not sure where to begin, start here. And let me know if you need a little help or encouragement.

Daily discipline will help you live your dharma. And that will make you happy. I promise.

Happy National Yoga Month, my friends!

Namaste,

Amber

All I Really Needed to Know About Parenting, I Learned On My Yoga Mat

When I discovered yoga in 1998, I was 27 years old, newly married, and several years away from having kids. I took my first class at a health club, in hopes that yoga would relieve stiffness that lingered, after breaking a dozen bones in a near-fatal car crash.

I believed that yoga could help me feel better, but I never expected that it would teach me most of what I needed to know to be a good parent. It is the ancient philosophies behind yoga, as well as its regular practice, that have helped me become more of the mom I always hoped to be. Here are just a few of the many important parenting lessons yoga has taught me:

1. Be present. Without awareness, yoga becomes just another workout. If I lose the mind/body/spirit connection, I miss the best parts. The same holds true for parenting. It’s important to look kids in the in the eyes, and tell them we are happy to see them. Ask questions, and stay engaged as they reply. This connectedness deepens our relationship, and builds their self-esteem.

2. Focus on what it feels like, not what it looks likeWhat we feel is more important than what we look like in yoga. Similarly, our kids will always remember how we made them feel, more than what life looked like, when they grow up. They won’t remember whether our nails were done, if the house was messy, or if their clothes were ironed…they will remember how it felt to live with us. Was family life peaceful? Accepting? Encouraging? Focus on making home feel like love, more than anything else.

3. Balance happens when we are strong on the inside, and soft on the outside. Set the foundation, hold onto it, and let go all at once. This is how we sustain balance poses on the mat. Likewise, as a parent, it is just as important to be sure of ourselves, as it is to be flexible with our kids. We must strengthen ourselves first, so that we can tend to the evolving needs of family, with grace and equanimity.

4. Taking breaks doesn’t make me weak, it makes me stronger. On the yoga mat, it is essential to honor my body. If I ignore cues to rest, my practice falls apart. The same is true with my kids. I love spending time with them, but I become less rational when we are together for days on end, without a break. Recognizing the need to put myself in “time out” (i.e., “child’s pose”) helps me as much on my mat, as with my family. Once I reconnect with my inner strengths, I can return with better perspective, and more of myself to share.

5. The transitions are just as important as the poses. Some yogis spend up to half of their practice time in transitions. Connecting the poses with grace is essential. As a parent, it is easy to get wrapped up in the big moments–the sports games, recitals, and birthday parties–but don’t forget to find value and beauty in the everyday experiences.

No one said it would be easy, but the promise of reward for hard work is significant, in both yoga and parenting. The word yoga means “to yoke”, and refers to the uniting of the mind, body, and spirit. When we parent children with the intelligence of all three, we discover that parenting can be the greatest yogic practice of all.

Happy National Yoga Month!

Amber

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Yoga with my babies, and Shelby The DAWWWG, circa 2008

Sadhana Is A Blessing

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Sadhana is the sanskrit word for any discipline that is created in the pursuit of a goal. It’s an ancient and essential concept, that I believe is the secret to success in this crazy healthy life.

I tell my students to practice sadhana by making yoga an “every day / everyday thing”. By that, I mean that we should practice yoga every day, and at every opportunity. Don’t wait for a class to do some yoga…the best parts of the practice are often the lessons we learn on our own.

Making yoga an everyday thing also means letting go of the idea that there certain places you can’t practice yoga. I told you last week that I practice yoga on airplanes. I also practice at my kids’ soccer games, in the doctor’s office, at the grocery store, and everywhere else that I can. The way I see it, every stretch, every deep breath, and every meditation adds up over time.

I have been practicing sadhana for about seven years now. It has made me more aware of how I spend my time, and that most people have a lot of underutilzed time in their daily activities. We spend time waiting in carpool line, and waiting for the water to boil, and waiting for people who are late to a meeting. Why not use those moments to practice yoga? Twist in your seat, touch your toes, stretch your shoulders. Don’t analyze it…just do something.

I am grateful for my friends that share the same perspective. One of these friends is Betsy, an amazing pilates instructor, who also happens to love yoga. I have known Betsy since 2005, when we were both teaching at a health club. We helped each other with childcare, so that we could teach more classes, and not have to pay a sitter. Watching Betsy care for her twin boys revealed a lot about her healthy lifestyle, and helped me better understand the foundation of her joyful outlook on life. Sadhana made her happy.

Another thing I learned about Betsy is that she is a HUGE Alabama football fan, and there is little that gets in the way of her commitment to her team.

It made me smile yesterday, when Betsy posted the photo above, taken as she practiced yoga in front of Saturday’s game. The quote read, “Gameday at our house! Namaste!”

Some of her friends might have been surprised that she was not glued to the tube, but I wasn’t. Betsy knows that when we are disciplined, we really can have our proverbial cake, and eat it too.

Sadhana is only as difficult as we perceive it to be. If we accept discipline as a path to happiness, sadhana ceases to be a chore, and we see it as a blessing. We realize that we are fortunate to practice yoga–some people can’t, or just don’t know how–and it is a gift to have the time to do it.

I think the easiest way to practice sadhana is to become an opportunistic yogi. Look for underutilized time in your own life, and use it to meditate, stretch and strengthen your body. This is how we begin to cultivate a personal yoga practice, and there’s just no telling where it might lead you from there.

Namaste~

Amber

The Day Amy Learned To Fly

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The one thing I forgot to mention about this yoga trip with my friend, Amy, is that she had never taken a yoga before before, when I invited her to join me.

Which is why were both caught off guard yesterday morning, when, Steve taught eight angle pose, and Amy got her feet off the ground right away. She was so surprised, and thrilled. It was truly awesome!

I was so happy for her. Even happier than when I figured it out for myself (which was just a few weeks ago). I could tell that she was enjoying the class, and starting to “get it”.

It reminded me of this quote:

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Yoga teaches us that we can fly, even when it seems out of reach.

Amy flew yesterday, and you can too. Give it a try! Yoga always meets us wherever we are.

If you are not sure where to begin, to practice yoga, just start with what you already know, and practice that. Or refer back to my previous articles about yoga. Or send me a message with your questions, so I can help.

Happy National Yoga Month!

Namaste~

Amber