Mindfulness


We are now well into the second month of the new year. Work has returned, the kids are back at school and life is quickly filling up with responsibilities and commitments.

Perhaps in the occasional quiet moments you’ve reflected on your summer holiday – a time when routine was non-existent, days flowed into nights, and beach days left you feeling calm and relaxed.

It was perhaps during those summer holiday moments that you made a commitment to yourself to savour more of “this time”; to not get caught up in the craziness that can sometimes swamp our lives.

How are you tracking towards the intentions you set for yourself this year?

This is often a phrase I use in yoga classes. We begin our practice by setting an intention. Then, about two thirds of the way through class, we stop to still the body, reconnect with the breath and revisit our intention.

Sometimes we are so busy “doing” (in life and on our yoga mat) that we lose sight of the path we intended to travel.

Rather than waiting for the next holiday, here are some ways you can bring more mindfulness into your daily life and stay connected to your intentions.

Conscious breathing

The simple act of taking 15 minutes to go outside, sit in stillness and breathe deeply into your body, can completely change the way you feel.

In times of stress or rushing we are often not breathing to our full capacity.

By breathing into the bottom of the belly and drawing the breath up into the ribs and chest, then exhaling the breathe from the chest, ribs and belly, (Maharaja Pranayama – 3 Part Yogic Breath) we naturally slow our breathing. This switches on the parasympathetic nervous system, enabling the body to rest and recover.

Mindfulness in daily life

Author of Buddhism for Mothers, Sarah Napthali, says ‘mindfulness is an awareness of all the present moment contains: the sensations in your body, your feelings, perceptions, assumptions and tendencies.’ [1]

While we can’t always control situations in our lives, we have a conscious choice in how we react.

There are many examples of daily activities that we flow through without mindfulness. Examples may include: eating, doing housework, driving, listening, or interacting with family and friends (without iPhones).

Take a moment to think about the things you do in a day. Can you bring more awareness to these things?

Start by bringing mindfulness to something small – like a morning/afternoon ritual. Begin by becoming aware of all the sensations in your body, as you are doing whatever it is you choose. Then observe how this mindful state makes you feel afterwards.

The long-term benefit of mindfulness is that it makes us more aware of how things make us feel. This self-awareness enables us to make more conscious choices towards things that bring us joy and resonate on a deeper level.

Nature connect

Another way to bring mindfulness into your life is by connecting with nature. What I love about nature connection from the perspective of mindfulness is that it encourages “stopping” and taking time out.

Have you ever sat in nature and simply observed?

Have you ever marveled at the beauty and vibrational sound of a cascading waterfall deep in a eucalyptus forest? Have you ever watched clouds form and disperse in the sky until they are nothing more than wisps of white in a sea of blue? Or sat snuggled on a beach as the sand becomes cold, and watched the sun slip behind the sea? Or laid on the Earth so still that you could hear your heart beat; or was it the Earth’s?

Lessons surround us in nature, if we just take the time to connect.

In the words of Eckhart Tolle –

“Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness.”

 

Read more: http://www.wildplacesyoga.com.au/mindfulness/

 

 

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Using Essential Oils During Meditation


With our hectic modern lives, meditation is more important than ever.  Meditation helps calm your mind, refocus your energy, and promote healthy, positive contemplation.  However, with all the stresses and distractions in our lives, it can be hard to not only start a meditation routine, but to focus enough to get all the amazing benefits.  Essentials oils can help.  Essential oils can enhance the meditation experience, promote relaxation, and encourage spiritual openness.  By using essential oils during meditation, you can get the clarity and peace of mind that we all need in these hectic times.

How To Use Essential Oils During Meditation

You can use essential oils two different ways during meditation.  The first is by diffusing the oil into the air using an essential oil diffuser to promote aromatherapy inhalation.  During meditation, aromatherapy inhalation can help stimulate the senses, promote relaxation, and create an ambient space so you can really focus.  The second is by direct application of the essential oils to your skin.  There are several ways to do this during meditation.  You can apply the essential oil to sore areas that can distract your mind, you can apply it to your palms for self-directed inhalation, or you can apply it to your pulse points so it can quickly reach the targeted areas.  So how you incorporate your essential oils into your meditation depends entirely on what you need to achieve.

Best Essential Oils For Meditation

There are so many amazing essential oils that can help guide your meditation.  Here are some of our recommendations:

Sandalwood:  Sandalwood is possibly the best essential oil for meditation.  It is extremely cleansing and can break up the negative thoughts and stress that cloud your mind.  If you are experiencing inner noise and a busy mind that is taking away from your ability to focus, relax, and meditate, sandalwood can help clear the chatter.  It is also a hypotensive which can help lower your blood pressure so you can also physically relax during your meditation.

Clary Sage:  Clary sage has been used by cultures all over the world for thousands of years to remove negative energies from a space.  Using clary sage during meditation can clear the room of any negative energies that can influence and distract the mind from focusing.  Clary sage is also an antidepressant so it can help lift your mood, so that you have a positive meditative experience.

Frankincense:  Frankincense is the most powerful essential oil for the spirit.  It promotes grounding, balancing, and openness.  Frankincense can help you connect with your spiritual self.  Frankincense can also help stabilize your root chakra, so that your energy can flow through your chakras.  Frankincense is also has numerous holistic benefits.  It can help reduce pain and inflammation, relieve stress, and clear your nasal passages.  All of these things can distract you during meditation, so it is a great oil to incorporate into your meditation for the health of your mind, body, and spirit.

Lavender:  Lavender is an antianxiety, antidepressant, and relaxant.  Lavender is one of the best essential oils for meditation because its calming properties can put your mind in the right frame to achieve clarity and enlightenment from meditation.  It also helps stabilize and calm you, so if you are having a restless meditation session, you can balance yourself and really focus.

Eucalyptus:  Meditation requires focusing and controlling your breathing.  However, if your airways are blocked or inflamed, you will have difficulty achieving a meditative state.  Eucalyptus is an expectorant and can help clear the airways and release chest tightness, enabling you to breathe deeply and steadily.

Neroli:  Neroli is an extremely spiritually transformative essential oil.  Used during meditation, it can help promote self-love and acceptance, reduce your fears, and inspire creativity.  In the body, Neroli reduces pain and inflammation, decreases blood pressure and cortisol levels, and is an anticonvulsant.  The centering spiritual and physical effects of neroli have a profound impact on meditation and can help you achieve mindfulness, clarity, and inner peace.

Incorporating essential oils into your meditative routine can help your mind focus and center.  It can also clear the negative energies and mind talk that can distract you from achieving mindfulness and enlightenment.  Essential oils can also help soothe your body and connect you to your spiritual self.  Essential oils are a truly amazing way to enhance your meditation experience.  However, if you are using essential oils for meditation, you need to ensure you are incorporating only the highest quality oils or you will not get the full therapeutic benefits.  Organic Aromas’ essential oils are 100% pure, therapeutic grade, and derived from only the finest quality sources.  So they are perfect for meditation.  Plus with our gorgeous, hand carved diffusers, you can make any space ideal for meditation.  So if you are looking to improve your meditation, check out our amazing products.

 

Read more: https://organicaromas.com/blogs/aromatherapy-and-essential-oils/using-essential-oils-during-meditation

 

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Office Yoga: Easy Chair Yoga Exercises


I’ve had several requests recently for office yoga and easy chair yoga exercises. These are simple stretches to do almost anywhere – even when you’re confined to a small cubicle! I made you a handy graphic to pin to your Pinterest board to remind you of the poses, and it will link back to this post if you need a refresher. Plus, I found a wonderful office yoga video for you! So relax, refresh, relieve stress and tension now with office yoga! 

 

Office Yoga: Easy Chair Yoga Exercises

 

Office Yoga: Easy Chair Yoga Exercises1. Forward Bend – eases tension in upper back and neck.

Breathe in and as you bend forward breathe out and let your head and arms hang over your knees. Relax into the position and hold for a few seconds while breathing normally. Breathe in as you slowly come back up to seated position.

2. Spinal Twist – increases circulation and flexibility in the spine.

Sit facing forward place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Place your right arm over the back of the chair. Breathe in and breathe out as you twist to the right. Turn your head as well. Push against your right knee to create more leverage. Breathe normally and hold the position. Release slowly and come back to facing forward and repeat on the opposite side.

3. Side Stretch – increases flexibility of the spinal column, improves respiration, and reduces waistline.

Sit facing forward with feet slightly apart, breathe in, and raise your arms out to the sides. Breathe out and bend to the left, reaching toward the floor with your left hand and your right hand pointing toward the ceiling. Breathe in come back to starting position. Repeat with your right side.

4. Knee Squeeze – relaxes lower back, improves digestion and respiration.

Breathe out completely then breathe in with both hands around the front of your knee pull your knee to your chest, while holding the in breath. Lower your head to your knee hold for a few seconds and release slowly while breathing out. Repeat with your right side.

5. Leg Lifts – strengthen legs and lower back, and improves circulation to your legs and feet.

Sit and hold each side of the chair for balance. Breathe out and breathe in as you lift your straightened left leg and flex your foot. Hold for a few seconds and then slowly breathe out while lowering your leg. Repeat the same for your right leg.

6. Sun Pose – improves circulation to your head, massages internal organs, and limbers your spine and hips.

Sit back in the chair with legs apart and arms by your side. Breathe out completely then breathe in and with a sweeping motion bring your arms up over your head. Look up and stretch. Breathe out while bending forward between your legs and if you can put your palms on the floor. Slowly breathe in while raising back up with arms over head again, then lower your arms to the side.

Read more: http://www.yogarelieftips.com/1445/office-yoga-easy-chair-yoga-exercises-vide

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7 Ridiculously Awesome Yoga YouTube Channels


Get a Great Yoga Workout With These YouTube Channels

YouTube is a ridiculously awesome resource when it comes to fitness videos. Every day a new channel pops up from someone trying to show you how they work out and that is great because you never run out of new workouts to try!

YouTube is especially great for yoga.

7 Awesome YouTube Yoga Channels

In this post, we’ve gone through a ton of different yoga channels to find what we believe are some of the best ones. With so many out there we’ve of course missed a couple so don’t take this as the definitive list of Yoga YouTube Channels.

Just take it as a recommendation for channels that you should check out.

These are in no particular order.

1. Yoga with Adriene

The Queen of Yoga on YouTube (seriously, she dominates all yoga searches), Adriene brings a nice light-heartedness to yoga. She makes it feel like you are sitting in her home doing awesome poses with her.

2. Yoga with Time

Tim is a cool dude. I don’t know else to put it. When I think of a yogi I picture people like Tim.

Smooth. Relaxed. Gentle.

He provides a ton of awesome yoga workouts along with great tutorials.

 

3. Fightmaster Yoga

 

4. Yoga TX

Cole. Cole. Cole. Cole.

She’s the bomb dot com (is that what adults say?).

What I love about her videos is that she gives you some personal insight into herself which makes you feel a bit more connected.

She also makes me want to grow dreads but I’m not sure I can pull them off.

 

5. Do You Yoga

Like challenges? Do You Yoga has a ton of awesome challenges for you and is a great channel for targeting specific parts of your body.

 

6. Sara Beth Yoga

Sara Beth’s channel is great because it goes beyond yoga. It talks about her diet and life which makes you better understand her lifestyle.

 

7. PyscheTruth

Another awesome channel that covers more than yoga. PsycheTruth takes a look into yoga, nutrition, massage, fitness, weight loss, psychology, and happiness.

 

YouTube Is a Great Way to Start

If you’re looking into getting started with a type of workout, like tabata, then YouTube is a great place to start. Once you get familiar with a style of workout that you like then you can start to look for more specialized courses and products.

However, YouTube gives you the opportunity to do any type of training you want for free. It might not be as organized but if you’re trying to get fit on a budget, YouTube is a great resource for you.

Read more: https://thrivestrive.com/yoga-youtube/

 

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Yoga saved my life: three people share their stories


At a time of difficulty last year I found comfort in yoga. I went through a period of torturous insomnia that left me wide awake every night until 3am, begging for my brain to switch off. I’d heard that yoga could help so started going to a local class. Immediately, I felt better. I loved how slow and methodical it was, and the fact that teachers discussed mindful and positive thinking. These were all things I’d heard little about before. Gradually, as I de-stressed and learned to relax, my sleep improved. I even used to go through the poses in my head before bed, which always helped me drift off.

So, for World Yoga Day, I wanted to find out whether this ancient practice had helped others too with any challenges they had faced. Here are three stories.

Vernon Kenny, 50: After six months of yoga I quit drinking and smoking. I didn’t need these substances any more

I was very reluctant to go to a yoga class when my wife asked me. She had been practicing for years in Japan, but wanted to go for the first time in the UK and was worried about the fact that the class would be held in English. That’s why she dragged me along with her. I moaned all the way there. “Can I not just wait for you in the pub?” I asked.

 At this point in my life I was drinking every day, and smoking a lot. I was living for the weekend and experiencing low-level depression that I managed through excessive shopping and substance abuse. This was 10 years ago – I was 40.

After my first class, which was just a regular one in a gym, everything changed. I was hooked straight away and six months in I’d stopped drinking and smoking, and my family and friends noticed the difference in me too. They noted that I was happier, friendlier and more open and compassionate. As a result my relationship with my wife was much better too. We used to argue over stupid things but that all stopped.

Giving up smoking was perhaps my greatest achievement. I had tried for years to do it but found it impossible. Yoga helped me because smoking and drinking were just a manifestation of my desire for happiness and, as I became more happy and contented, I realised that I didn’t need these substances any more. I experienced some physical discomfort for a few days quitting smoking but that soon passed. Yoga helped me control the psychological addiction to smoking.

Yoga brings you into a deep sense of relaxation physically and that creates more space for you mentally and spiritually. I started to understand that there was no satisfaction in trying to find happiness outside myself, for example through material possessions; all this stuff brought only temporary happiness, nothing permanent.

I now practice every day. I do an hour and a half before work. Then I meditate in the evening and I attend classes in Putney, London. I also teach yoga after work a few days, which gives me the same kind of buzz as going to a class.

Yoga isn’t going to turn everyone’s life around, but it has the potential to do so. You just need to be open to it. I don’t know whether it was luck or karma but yoga came to me at the right time. If I had gone to a class four years earlier I think I would have walked out immediately and gone straight to the pub. I wasn’t ready then but when I eventually found it I was.


Emily, 17: After experiencing anorexia, yoga taught me to have a better relationship with my body

I was first introduced to yoga in hospital – an interesting place to do your first class in. I had attempted suicide multiple times and was ill with anorexia. I was told if didn’t go into hospital then I would be sectioned. I was in a terrible state, and had lost over half my body weight. My suicide attempts had been monthly, and I’d been on suicide watch for three years.

This was a year ago now, and today I am infinitely better. A big part of my recovery is down to yoga. At first I didn’t take it seriously at all because of a misconception that it is hippy and all of that, but actually I found that it kind of empowered me to realise my body isn’t just what people can see but how I can use it.

My first yoga session was a turning point. It was a very slow class because it was at a treatment facility. I couldn’t really move beyond a few stretches. At this stage I didn’t realise how physical and complex it could be. It was introduced to me as a way to calm. Yoga also helped to introduce me to meditation.

I have always been crazy flexible because I did ballet. Maybe that’s partly why I developed an eating disorder. But yoga made me realise that it’s not just about my appearance but also what I can do with my body. I can do headstands etc, and that’s really empowering. It’s my antidote to the desire to be thinner.

My life now is so much better. There are still bits and pieces I am trying to restore and I lost a bit of weight recently because of my exams. But my mental health has vastly improved. I am able to maintain friendships and will be going to university in September. I never thought I would be doing that; my parents were told I wouldn’t last until I was 16.

I used to over-think everything and be anxious a lot of the time. The clarity of yoga was really what helped, and having a routine. I am not one of those constant, dedicated people, and I only do yoga for 10 minutes a day, but it helps to ground me. It has taught me how to calm down and not panic at everything.


Che Marville, 45: Yoga saved me from nights of sleeplessness after an illness

I have a long history with yoga. I started learning it when I was about 13, maybe even a little younger. I suffered from insomnia when I was 11 and 12 and found yoga the only way to cope. My sleep problems were triggered by an illness I developed as a child, the stress of migration and my parents’ divorce. My mother, siblings and I moved to Canada, but my family was originally from Guyana. When I was visiting family there I developed osteomyelitis, which is inflammation of bone marrow due to blood infection. I was deathly sick and lost the ability to walk. I was flown to Trinidad where I was diagnosed but the first surgery was unsuccessful so their solution was to amputate the right leg. My mother, a British-trained nurse, refused and sought out the Canadian embassy to help us return to Canada. The doctors in Trinidad said: “If you take her back she will die,” but my courageous mother took the risk based on her knowledge and faith.

When I got to Toronto I had a series of seven operations and gradually improved. I went through rehabilitation and wore a brace and never lost my leg. I was told that I would walk with a limp and one leg would be shorter than the other. I had experienced extreme pain and was so grateful to be alive that I developed spiritual practice during my illness. I discovered a greater sense of self and strength because I came so close to death.

As a result of my experiences I developed sleep issues and to help with this I started yoga. It wasn’t very common at that time and my family and friends certainly weren’t studying it. I did it privately and there was always a yoga teacher renting a church basement somewhere and books in the public library. I found the experience so profound that I was hungry to study with various teachers using the practice to heal myself.

After I graduated I worked as a researcher at the Science Centre and that’s when my sleep problems came back. I started to research more into what was going on and began studying mindfulness and meditation. I realised I could cure myself.

After a while I felt my personal practice was strong and shared it with others. I designed a programme for nurses in hospital – because my mum was one – and they loved it. It ran in multiple hospitals and I also started teaching. One thing that is important to remember is that yoga isn’t just about acrobatics; it is an intricate holistic philosophy about your own unique health. It involves learning to be calm and to relax. When you do that your body can heal itself. One of the requirements of yoga is telling yourself the truth. When you do that you find a kind of serenity and inner peace. It doesn’t mean you become nice or good; you become the person you were born to be. You learn to accept your imperfections and fragilities.

Through yoga I’ve been able to help other people too and be of service in my community. I work with seniors, children and executives. I have received feedback from people saying that learning yoga has helped them sleep better and reduce their anxiety . It’s also helped people cope with depression. It has not healed them but it has helped them cope. Right now I am working with people who have cancer and it’s useful for them too. I am not talking about healing it but living with it, because it is a chronic illness and many who suffer from it have never confronted their own mortality before. The fear is often greater than pain and the practice of yoga and understanding your own body can help with that.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jun/22/yoga-saved-my-life-three-people-share-their-stories

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Cat yoga: The mewest exercise trend


Lined up one by one behind a glass door, tiny black fuzzy heads peer out at a forbidden Nirvana. They stare at a privilege only the older and wiser among them get to experience.

Just out of reach is a sea of sweet, spongy goodness: fresh, unclawed yoga mats.
Typically, the Good Mews cat shelter in Marietta, an Atlanta suburb, with its bright walls and white volunteer-scrubbed floors, is home to 100 or so cats who lounge and chase and bat at the odd toy, all while they wait for humans to come find them and give them a forever home.

Tonight, however, they are in for something special. Tonight, their home in the cage-free adult cat room transforms into a studio for the ultimate in challenging exercise fads. Classes have popped up on New York’s Lower East Side, in San Francisco, even in Des Moines and in Mobile, Alabama.

Tonight, it’s yoga with cats.
Cats love yoga mats and can’t help but be the center of the action at Good Mews shelter.
If you’ve ever tried a hero’s pose with your cat around, you know the challenge has nothing to do with your breathing or flexibility.
The Herculean task is keeping your yoga mat feline-free. Whatever they make yoga mats out of, the material must come from the catnip family. Turn your back just once to grab your water bottle, and you’ll instantly hear the pop, pop, pop of their claws on your pristine $70 Lululemon.
On this night, however, a group of about 15 Spandex-clad women have deliberately plunked down their mats in the middle of the cat room. And true to form, the sleeping cats that had been lounging — furry legs dangling from cat trees around the room — instantly jolt awake. They start climbing down toward their prey.
One of the shelter managers, along with a longtime volunteer who is a certified yoga instructor, got the idea for the class — where else — after seeing a cat video on the Internet. Only, in that case, people brought cats to a yoga studio.
“I thought with people with allergies, it might be hard to clean up the studio afterward, so I thought, why not bring the class to the shelter?” said the instructor, Lisa Bass.
The manager of the shelter, Lisa Johns, thought it was a great idea. She’d wanted another way to get people into the shelter to see the adoptable animals.
With Bass donating her time, the class participation fee becomes a donation to help support the animals. Besides the usual assortment of cats and kittens, the shelter runs an expensive program that places cats with special medical needs, continuing to pay for their care even after they’ve left the shelter.
The class has been a huge hit. It sells out almost as soon as the times are announced online three times a month.
“I really like the class and really like hanging out with all the cats,” said Katie Misencik, a volunteer and regular yoga practitioner.
Misencik has taken other theme yoga classes, including one that involves beer, but she says the cat class is pretty special.
“It’s all about fun and is a little more relaxing,” she said. “There’s not as much pressure to make my form perfect.”
Studies show that yoga can improve your balance, your breathing, your sense of self and your overall health. It can reduce anxiety and fight off depression. It strengthens your core and can help ease chronic pain.
There are no studies about the health benefits of cat yoga, but Bass does see a difference in her students after they’ve shared their practice with a tiger cat.
“In general, yoga is great for lowering the heart rate, and it’s great for flexibility,” Bass said. “Cat yoga is good for your soul.”
From the happy looks on the women’s faces, the class does seem to be a hit — even if, collectively, they may suffer a little from what Bass calls CADD, or cat attention deficit disorder. But even the most senior of yogis might struggle in a room with such present creatures.
As soon as the soothing music starts, cats do make a beeline for the students and the yoga mats.
A calico wanders through a woman’s legs as she tries to balance in a low lunge. A white cat sniffs and rubs against a woman in cow pose as she instantly becomes a kind of cat jungle gym. One nestles into the discarded jacket next to a woman’s mat.
Two tabbies gang up and attack a woman’s long dangling ponytail as she attempts downward dog, or “downward cat,” as the instructor calls it. A tuxedo perched high in a cat tree looks down at another woman, a little judgy at her attempt at a cat pose.
To a person, each woman laughs at these antics. Some even dangle fuzzy toys as they make their complicated moves. The cats seem to like the attention.
“They get stimulation from the humans,” said Johns, the manager. “They are very curious about what is going on. They get a lot of loving and affection and get more socialization.”
Johns also thinks the humans benefit from the special kind of happiness you can only feel bonding with a cat.
“You’re not just doing something healthy for yourself,” Johns said. “You are doing a bit of good too for these shelter cats that will only get even more adoptable with the extra time and attention.”

Namaste.


http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/28/health/cat-yoga/
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6 Tips for Finding Happiness, Peace, and Good Mental Health


Sometimes life can throw us so many challenges, everything can start to feel overwhelming. It isn’t always easy to find the positive among the negative and keep smiling, and that’s OK. The good news is that there’s hope. There are countless ways to find the joy in life if you know how. Here are a few tips for finding inner peace and happiness:

1. Play to your strengths

When we’re feeling down we tend to focus on the negative, often on our own personal weaknesses. Don’t! Consciously identify your strengths and build on them. Maybe you wouldn’t be able to run a major corporation, but you’re a star at running your kitchen as head chef. That would make you an excellent candidate to help out at a local community kitchen — you’d have the chance to excel at something you enjoy and for an amazing cause. Find rewarding ways to use your abilities and you can build your self-confidence and happiness.

2. Get outside

Getting back to nature can do wonders for the human spirit. Make it a point to spend a little time outside each day, even if it’s only for a 15-minute walk. Better yet, break out of the ordinary, everyday, and take a day or weekend to visit a wildlife reserve, nature trail, or national landmark to completely immerse yourself in the natural world. It can be humbling to stand in the enormity of wilderness, and sometimes offers greatly-needed perspective.

3. Be positive but realistic

Practicing “realistic optimism” can be an effective way to keep positive without giving ourselves unrealistic expectations and setting us up for disappointment. Sometimes constant positive thinking is counterproductive, giving us the false idea that if we simply tell ourselves something, it will eventually happen. The truth is, some things are beyond your control. Good or bad, some things happen because they just do and others will never happen no matter how positive we stay. Brace yourself for the possibility that things could go wrong, but instead of being frustrated focus on how you’ll overcome it and move forward.

4. Focus on the present

Don’t let me scare you off, but here’s a fact: there are an infinite amount of things that could go wrong at your business dinner tonight or on your date next Thursday. But why worry about the future right now? Is fretting over the possibilities going to make any of them less likely to happen? Not a chance. So instead, keep your mind on the present moment because there are quite a few things you can do and control right now. For example, right now you can make sure you get your work done so you have plenty of time to prepare for your presentation. Right now you can grab some floss and get to work so that you have a charming smile for next week’s hot date. Focus on the present, and you’ll feel more in control.

5. Get some exercise

A sound mind requires a sound body, so keep yours in shape. Get your heart pumping with some exercise at least a few times a week. Seek daily opportunities to stay active — taking the stairs instead of the lift is an easy one — and do so with others when possible. Swimming in particular can boost your mood and even help manage depression. But even taking a 20-minute stroll around the neighborhood can be a great way to clear your mind and keep you fit.

6. Communicate

Relationships of every kind depend on clear, consistent communication. But being a strong communicator isn’t a skill that all of us have, and struggles with it can cause problems at home, work, and within our circle of friends. Be straightforward and say what you want to say; don’t talk around it. Be tactful, but if you aren’t happy about something, speak up! Whether it’s an unreasonable workload at the office or an argument with your spouse that’s still bothering you, find a way to calmly, reasonably approach your intended audience and talk to them about a solution. You may often find situations turn out in your favor: your boss genuinely didn’t realize he was overloading you and stops, for example.

Life will never be completely free of hard times or obstacles, but with these tips in mind it doesn’t have to break our spirit. If you think you may be struggling with more serious issues, don’t hesitate to contact a professional or confide in a loved one so you can find the support you need.

Read more: http://www.dailycupofyoga.com/2016/09/19/6-tips-for-finding-happiness-peace-and-good-mental-health/

 

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4 Ways to Become 1% More Mindful Each Day


Little strokes fell great oaks.” –Benjamin Franklin

When I opened my eyes this morning, I looked over at the corner of the room and took a deep breath. It was the corner near the fireplace, where for the last two weeks, I sat, crossed my legs, and closed my eyes for twenty minutes of mindful meditation.

Now, some people may still consider meditation as a strictly spiritual practice. Something reserved for chakra juggling mystics after new moon parties. However, tons of scientific research credit meditation and mindfulness with reducing anxiety, improving cognition, and decreasing distraction.

In a world where external stimuli chases us down like an avalanche, a mindfulness practice can be a beacon in the snow storm.

Craving the benefits of this so-called bicep curl for the brain, I had enthusiastically committed myself to a 30-day mindful meditation challenge. This morning would have been day 18.

I sat in my corner, felt the heat of the fireplace and wiped the sleep from my eyes. Eager to begin my cerebral scrub down, I set the timer. That’s when it hit me—yesterday came and went, and I didn’t meditate.

I had told myself I’d find the time, yet somehow, the barrage of office emails and hours of mindless internet scrolling took precedence over my mental hygiene. All that time lost in thought, rehearsing arguments in my mind I’ll never have in real life, added up to a day lost and a meditation streak broken.

“What a waste,” I thought, disappointed with myself. I surrendered and said, “Maybe I’ll try again next month.”

This initial feeling that “all was lost” is a misconception that surrounds many things. For instance, some of us might consider dieting one day a week, or lifting weights only once a month, to be pointless. We don’t like to believe lackadaisical regimens can produce the fast, proven, real, extreme results we crave. If we can’t do something correctly and consistently, why bother at all?

What we forget, however, is what Einstein called the 8th wonder of the world—compound interest.

The power of compound interest is simple. In financial terms, it means we earn interest on both our initial investment along with whatever interest has already been earned. If we invest $100 and compound 1% interest every day, in one year we’ll have $3,778.34. That’s an increase of 37x!

I considered this 8th world-wonder and my last few weeks of meditation. I realized how my sense of contentment and emotional well-being had increased not only from when I started the challenge but how it continued to build upon the progress I made from each previous day. While I may have failed the 30-day challenge, all was not lost.

Practicing mindfulness, to put it simply, is the act of pulling ourselves back into the present moment. When we make the decision to stop and focus, to be grateful, to notice our emotions without trying to change them, we not only improve the quality of the present, but invest in our ability to be mindful in the future.

The moments we spend being mindful compound and pay interest in the form of clarity, gratitude, and presence.

Think about the example of compound interest above and consider how becoming just 1% more mindful each day could add up over a lifetime. We may not see 30-day-money-back-guaranteed results, but compounding small improvements every day leads to huge growth down the road.

But just as is it when investing money, compound interest can be a double-edged sword. Markets can crash. Days of enlightenment can be followed by days of darkness. The time we spend lost in thought, emotionally scattered, or ungrateful—those moments compound as well.

That’s why adding up mindful moments whenever we can is so valuable. We’ll need them when life’s storms inevitably come.

There is an old zen proverb that goes, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

While this is noble in sentiment, for most of us, it offers little value in action. Carving out twenty minutes a day for a new habit is hard enough without worrying if more time is needed to even make a difference. We must remember that when it comes to mindfulness, we are working towards clarity and appreciation for the present— every moment counts.

For those of us that aren’t ready to invest an hour a day or even twenty minutes to meditation, here are 4 ways to become 1% more mindful each day without setting aside any extra time.

First. Taste your food.

We’ve all been there, starving as our slice of pizza arrives, ready to devour. We take a bite, pull out our phone, starting thinking about what so-and-so said last night. Before we know it—the food is gone and we have no recollection of chewing.

During your next meal, focus on those first few bites. Notice the smell. Identify the flavors. Tune into your body and mind during the meal. Resist the urge to solve problems or think about your schedule, this is your time to eat.

Second. When you go from sitting to standing—check in.

Moving from one position to another gives us a chance to check-in with ourselves.

When you stand up from your workspace, are you in a hurry? That’s fine, don’t try to change it. Just notice it.

When you sit back down does your mind begin to rush towards the rest of your day before finishing the task at hand? Gently reel yourself back to the present. Close your eyes, take a breath and focus on what’s happening right now. This only takes a few seconds.

Third. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for every morning.

This is a tip I learned from using The Five Minute Journal. For how easy it is and for how little time it takes, I cannot express enough how much of an impact doing this consistently has had on my overall satisfaction with life. If you only incorporate one thing from this post, make it this.

Fourth. When you walk…

Don’t let your monkey mind crawl around the cage while you stroll. Instead, feel the weight of your feet pressing against the asphalt with each step. Notice the temperature of the air on your face and hands.

You don’t even need to make time to “go for a walk.” Do this when you walk to your car in the morning. Do it when you walk towards your bed at night. When you walk, be present.

***

Whether it’s embarking on a 30-day meditation challenge or just remembering to be a little more grateful once in awhile, remember—the power of compound interest is happening all around us.

Will you let it work for you, or against you?

Read more: http://www.dailycupofyoga.com/2016/12/13/4-ways-to-become-1-more-mindful-each-day/

 

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7 REASONS TO TRY YOGA THIS YEAR


Wanderlust’s Schuyler Grant and Jake Laub share seven reasons to commit to a regular yoga practice this year. Their 21 Day Yoga Challenge is the perfect program to get started and begin feeling the benefits. Sign up for the challenge here and purchase your Beginner’s Kit with everything you need for a home practice.

1. It helps with stress relief
Yoga reduces perceived stress and anxiety, which in turn reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to lower the levels of the stress hormones such as cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system.

2. You will sleep better
When we are less stressed we sleep better, and when we sleep better we are less stressed. Physical activity and mental relaxation fuel this virtuous cycle. A variety of studies have shown that yoga can improve sleep quality and quantity in people struggling with insomnia. Other studies have shown similar results in other groups of people, including cancer survivors and postmenopausal women.

3. It will make you stronger
Yoga is a full-body workout, targeting all the muscles of the body with both static holds and dynamic movement. You’re supporting your own body weight, building functional strength, flexibility, and mobility in areas where you really need it.

4. It detoxifies the body and aids in organ function
Physical activity increases the motility and mobility of the organs and muscles, allowing them to perform their natural detoxification process. Deep yogic breathing enhances the function of the lungs. Sweating ramps up the cleaning mechanism of the body just a little more.

5. You will build self-confidence
Yoga asks you to challenge yourself. You will struggle, sweat, probably tip over more than once. And guess what: no matter how you look in your practice or how many poses you fall out of, no one is going to judge you and you’ll feel great in savasana! Most importantly, if you dedicate yourself to practicing, you will see improvement. Together, these experiences build confidence to take on challenges beyond the mat.

6. It will improve your posture
By combining core strengthening with core mobility and proprioception, yoga can help improve posture. Better posture reduces anxiety, improves productivity, reduces back pain, and helps you breath better

7. It helps with concentration
Distraction and obsessive ‘multi-tasking’ is one of the neurosis of our time.  Concentration is shifting your focus from many things at once to one thing at a time.  Observing your body, breath and emotions through the yoga practice teaches you to focus your mind on one thing at a time. It is proven that as you observe your breath, it will slow down, and that as the breath slows down, the mind will follow suit. Over time practicing focus will shift you into a restful but aware state, which will recharge the mind and can help with enhanced mental facility and creativity.

Read more: https://www.manduka.com/blog/2017/01/07/7-reasons-to-try-yoga-this-year/

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10 SIMPLE WAYS TO RESET YOUR MIND, BODY, AND SOUL

If you’re in a rut and feel like you just need to press the reset button, here’s how to get your mind, body, and soul back on track!


We’ve all been stuck in a rut before. Whether it’s because we’re lacking motivation, stressed out and tired, or bored of the same old routine day in and day out, getting stuck is an inevitable part of life. Sometimes we just fall off the bandwagon and begin to feel a little discontent with the way things are going.

Maybe you’ve hit a wall on a project, or maybe you haven’t been eating well and now you feel sluggish all the time. Or perhaps you’ve fallen into the comparison trap, and you’re wondering why your life isn’t as interesting as someone else’s.

PSA: It’s okay to feel discontent. Truly it is. No one is every going to feel content with their life 100% of the time.

What’s important is that you have the tools you need to get yourself un-stuck whenever you need to.

I’m a big believer in taking care of your mind, body, and soul every single day, and my technique for getting out a slump is to focus on doing things that are going to improve those areas of your life. Once you give your mind, body, and soul the attention they deserve, you’ll feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and more content with your life.

How does one do this? Well, if you’re in a rut and feel like you just need to press the reset button, here’s how to get your mind, body, and soul back on track!

10 SIMPLE WAYS TO RESET YOUR MIND, BODY, AND SOUL

1. Drink lemon water first thing.

Start your mornings off with a big dose of hydration by drinking a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon. Lemon water helps rejuvenate dull skin, and also helps you digest food better so you’ll be less bloated throughout the day.

2. Do a self-care power hour.

If you want to start or get back into a morning routine, try squeezing in some good ol’ self-care with the power hour method. I have a whole post about this here, but basically you want to spend 20 minutes doing something for your mind, then your body, and then your soul. It’s the number one thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.

3. Treat yo skin.

Brush: I love dry brushing my skin before a shower because it gets your blood flowing, unclogs pores, and helps to remove any dead skin. Start at your feet and move upwards in long sweeping motions toward your heart.

Scrub: What better way to get your skin back into it’s supple state than with a good body scrub.

Glow: If your skin is looking a little lackluster, rosehip oil is an amazing thing to use on your face before bed because it helps even out skintone and creates a glowing complexion.

4. Get some fresh air.

Go outside on your lunch break or whenever you have 10 minutes to spare (*cough* make the time) without your phone, and take some time to notice your surroundings, feel the air on your skin, and take in some long, deep, and reflective breaths.

5. Declutter your digital life.

Give yourself fewer options for distraction by deleting apps you don’t use, emails you don’t need, and bookmarks you aren’t going to read.

6. Up your fruit and veggie intake.

Maybe you’ve been feeling a little lethargic from your food choices lately. If so, try adding in more of the good stuff – think fruit smoothies with spinach, a hearty salad for lunch, and a big ol’ pile of veggies as a side for dinner. Sometimes we immediately try to cut things out when we’re trying to get healthier, but adding things in is a much better approach in my opinion.

7. Try positive affirmations.

Give yourself some words of encouragement, even if it feels silly (trust me, I know it does). I like to write mine out on notecards and read them each morning before I get out of bed. Think about what you struggle with and turn them into positive statements. Here are some ideas:

  • I am safe and secure
  • I have everything I already need
  • I am a unique and interesting
8. Freshen up your desk space.

I recently rearranged by entire desk space at work, and it’s amazing how a little change can increase your productivity tenfold. Give your area a clean down, move things around, and get rid of any clutter you don’t need.

9. Focus on one thing at a time.

“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” – Ron Swanson

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list, get serious about your priorities and figure out what you can set aside for now. Focus on one thing at a time, even if you’re afraid of forgetting something.

10. Go somewhere new.

Even if you can’t get very far, explore a town or area near you that you’ve never been to. Maybe find a new trail to walk on, a different coffee shop to work at, or even just take a different route to work to switch things up. Once you change your routine a little, you’ll be out of that slump in no time.


 

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