Self Care: Why Studio Owners Need To Do Yoga Too

Wondering why you are seeing me in class more lately? Me too (…kidding). I’ve been making a huge effort to commit to self care over the past few weeks.

And you may (or may not) have noticed that one of the ways I’m doing this is by making an effort to get back on my mat.

When I’m having a bad day (or week, or month), getting on my mat and sharing a yoga practice with other like-minded individuals is one of the few things that helps me stop feeling disconnected. There’s nothing quite like sharing breath and energy with a room full of people doing yoga to alleviate loneliness.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with a little back story:

As a yoga studio owner, people often assume I’m in great shape. I’m a yoga teacher, so I must spend a lot of time doing yoga. I (supposedly) do a lot of yoga so I must be really healthy and fit. Some of these things may be true some of the time.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I really struggle to take good care of myself.

Lately, I’ve been feeling stressed out, anxious, and depressed. I’ve noticed that I have been spending a lot of time zoning out on my phone using social media. I’m not eating as well as I should be. I’ve had a shorter temper with my kids and husband. I have been getting frequent headaches. And I have been feeling very stagnant.

Here’s my excuse: I have 3 young children. In fact, I have spent all except about a year (total) of the last 7+ years pregnant, breastfeeding, or both. One (or more) of my kiddos has slept in my bed every night for the last 6 years. “Me time” is non-existent. As a small business owner, the primary caregiver of my children, and partner to someone who travels frequently for work, I have a LOT going on.

And I’m a typical mom, taking care of ME is often my very last priority.

But guess what? When I fail to take care of myself, every around me suffers. Whether it’s because I have a short temper, or I zone out looking at my phone instead of playing, or I avoid going out because I don’t feel like getting dressed, my kids are impacted when I’m not feeling like myself. Furthermore, I am not setting a good example of self-care for them.

For many reasons, my partner and I are both making an effort to re-commit to taking some time for ourselves. We are both working to support each other in doing things together and alone that do not involve the kids. We are reminding each other that our self care needs to be a priority in order for us to provide the best possible care for each other and our children.

Here’s what I’m doing to improve my self care:

Reading instead of looking at my phone.

I’m committing to read a minimum of 50 books this year. I love to read and can’t wait to exceed this goal! Plus I am setting a great example for my kids and showing them my priorities.

Moving my body every day.

Even if it’s a 5 minute walk or maybe even sometimes I count steam mopping as exercise. Exercise and fresh air are so important for self care and happiness.

Making healthy eating choices most of the time.

Maybe you do this too? If I eat lousy in the morning, sometimes I decide the whole day is crap and why even bother trying to eat right for the rest of the day. I’m working to make healthy choices most of the time and not let one bad eating choice ruin the rest of my day. Sometimes I eat coffee for breakfast and those “snacking chocolates” from the target check-out line for lunch. But that doesn’t mean I can’t eat a healthy dinner. Good decisions add up!

Seeking out meaningful social connections.

If you know me, you might know I’m a little… antisocial. I almost always choose stay home over go out. But making meaningful social connections is very important to long-term happiness. I’m taking baby steps on this one and making an effort to meet a friend for coffee every couple weeks. And I’m working with Whitney to start up a Mindful Parents Meetup group at Yoga in ME. We’ll be meeting once a month. You can find more information about our first meeting here!

Getting back on my mat.

I hope to practice at least 3 times a week. I know that sometimes things will get in the way and this won’t happen. But I’m going to keep trying anyway. Not only is this important for my self-care, health, and family, it is also important for the studio. How can I honestly and authentically share this practice if I’m not practicing what I preach? I have seen students be positively impacted by this practice time and time again. I know that it works. So all I need to do is set a good example and DO IT!

What’s your favorite self-care practice? Tell us in the comments!

See you in class!

 

Valentine’s Day at Yoga in ME

It’s February and we’re thinking about love. Valentine’s day is near! Stores are full of pink and red decorations, cards, flowers, fluffy stuffed animals. But love doesn’t have to be materialistic! At Yoga in ME, we celebrate all kinds, shapes and sizes of love. We celebrate love between family members, intimate partners, friends, neighbors, and (maybe most importantly) self love!

This year on Valentine’s day, we invite you to give yourself a little extra love.

Drink a warm cup of tea, curl up with a good book, go for a walk. Spend some time practicing self care by doing something you love, just for the joy of it! YOU are worth it! You. Are. Enough.

Some of us may not “feel the love” this year, and we want you to know that is okay too! You are not alone.

We want all of our members to know that you are a loved and valued part of this community. Each and every person who comes to this studio is an important part of making us who we are. Whether you come once a season, or four times a week, your energy is a part of the greater whole and we are grateful for you!

If you’re looking for a way to give back to the community, consider striking up a conversation with someone at the studio that you haven’t met before. Many of us shy yogis need to feel invited into a conversation before we’ll participate. In honor of the season, consider “sharing the love” with someone new. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life outside the studio. A warm smile, a hello, or even a hug, can go a long way!

Wishing each and every one of you a happy Valentine’s day!

Once In A Blue Moon

Stay tuned for a Blue Moon celebration!

The year 2018 is going to be a very exciting year. Why you ask? 2018 is not only going to bless us with one Blue Moon, but TWO Blue Moons!

January and March are the two months in 2018 that will host a Blue Moon speculator. What does this mean exactly? By astrological definition, this means Earth will be able to witness two full moons that fall within a single calendar month, in this case January 31st followed by March 31st.

Although the Blue Moon will be visible internationally, the prime time for us New Englanders will be 8:27AM EST. From the United States, the Blue Moon that we will be viewing is technically considered a waning gibbous moon, however, it is going to have the appearance of being full to naked eye. If you look closely, you just might be able to catch a glimpse of Regulus, the 1st-magnitude star in the constellation of Leo the Lion.

What is the significance of these Blue Moons you may wonder? Depending on who you ask the answer is significant! Another occurrence of two Blue Moons in one calendar year will not happen for another 19 years!

Now, the biggest question of them all: Is the moon going to turn blue? Unfortunately the answer is no. Due to various astrological reasoning and theory, the name of the moons is based off of the natural phases it goes through annually.

Although astrology and yoga are not technically related, many yogic traditions have been born around the movement of the stars and moons, there are even  Moon Salutations you can do! (As seen on Yoga Journal: https://www.yogajournal.com/videos/moon-shine).

Yoga in ME will also be celebrating in this astrological phenomenon so stay tuned and keep an eye up at the stars!

 

Namaste!

 

 

Do Your OM Thing: OM 101

Om, the sound of the Universe

Where were you when you had your first “OM” experience? What did you feel? What did you think? Reflecting upon it now, it was probably a very strange experience to chant this mysterious sound with others not knowing what or why this is even happening. We all started there at some point.

After a few classes and maybe a bit of home chanting, some of us may have begun to incorporate the word into our daily practices, singing it before and after class with your fellow yogis. But do we really know what we are actually saying, or connecting too? Here is a little OM 101.

“Om” originated from the ancient Sanskrit language as an attempt for the meditating rishis to associate a feeling with a verbal representation or sound. This sacred word was created due to the difficulty to express how “Om” represents everything, and is the seed of all creation, in essence it represents the Universe. Some even go further to say it is the organic sound the Universe made when it was created. Chanting “OM” creates an internal vibration that is thought to bring that individual into sync with the Universe and all other beings. Furthermore, the chant of “OM” is said to bring yourself into awareness with physical realities of the world and the body, as well as unlock more subtle impressions of the mind and soul.

Although the word looks simple: two letters that spell “om”, there are in fact four parts to the sacred chant. When sung out loud, or internally, the proper pronunciation comes out as “AUM”, with a pause at the end. The “Ahh” sound represents the creation aspect of the Universe, or the beginning of all sounds and is supposed to connect us to our deeper sense of Self. The “U”, sounding “oooh”,  represents the energy maintaining the Universe and therefore connects us to our own internal energies and senses. The “Mmm” sound encompasses the transformative energy of the Universe and should unite us with the awareness of oneness and connection with all. This is where you may begin to feel a slight vibration within the jaw, the shared vibration by all. The last part of “Om” is the silence that follows the sound, also knows as anagata. This silent vibration is said to be the pure consciousness of the Self and the unity with the Self and All.

Now, when it comes to the chanting, even that is a practice in itself. It is one thing to sit in the class and join in the chant because that is what everyone else seems to be doing. It is a completely separate and unique experience when you begin to chant to connect to something bigger than yourself. All the reading and research in the world cannot enlighten one who does not chant with intention or with passion. So the next time you are taking a yoga class, and the “Om” chant is offered, see if you can fully place yourself in the moment and acknowledge each of the four parts, and then sit in the bliss and unity.

“OMMMMMMMMMM”

 

 

Stick with Love, This Day and Every Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Anger is a silly thing. It seems so effortless to become angry, act angry and remain angry in any given situation or at any individual. The most difficult aspect to anger is letting it go, completely and with compassion. Yes, you may forgive someone for something they did, but do you ever fully forgive them for upsetting you or making you feel angry in the first place? There may always be that underlying tension just waiting for the next time to bubble up to the surface.

In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day,  I would like to share one of my favorite quotes from him (I could share many of my favorite MLK quotes, but that’s for a different time!). Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said:

“I have decided to stick with Love. Hate is too great of a burden to bear”.

The irony in this simple statement is quite comical as majority of people unconsciously chose to bear their burden of hate.

Anger that is left unchecked or ignored eventually transforms into a stronger version, such as resentment or hate itself. In his 2015 TED talk, Kailash Satuarthi said:

“Anger is within each one of you, and I will share a secret for a few seconds: that if we are confined in the narrows shells of egos, and the circles of selfishness, then the anger will turn out to be hatred, violence, revenge, destruction. But if we are able to break the circles, then the same anger could turn into a great power. We can break the circles by using our inherent compassion and connect with the world through compassion to make this world better. That same anger could be transformed into it.”

Love and compassion has the power to break the chains that anger and hatred hold on our hearts. Love can cut through the most hateful hearts and bring a light into even the darkest of souls. Martin Luther King Jr. understood the power behind love and chose the path of love and compassion to guide him through difficult or trying times.

Recently, I read a book for a book group at a local yoga studio (Yoga in ME), and I am so thankful I did. Author and life-changer, Brene Brown, explained in her book Braving the Wilderness that “people are hard to hate close up, move in”. That one sentence made me pause for quite a long time and thought about my levels of hate and how that hatred would be affected by proximity to that individual or situation. That simple, yet profound statement has such a true meaning that you almost want to be mad at it. Both Brene Brown and Martin Luther King Jr. have found success and peace in choosing love over hate.

With all the tragic events occurring, it is easy to get swept up in the sea of hatred that seems to be flooding the world and saturating hearts of many. Even as a practicing Yogi, I too find myself randomly angry or upset with a group of people or a situation that is occurring. But as Brene mentions, “we pay for hate with our lives, and that’s too big a price to pay”, and no amount of hatred is worth a human life.

The next time you find yourself in a hating position, do your best to recognize your angry emotions and take some time to dig down deep into the roots of those unpleasant feelings or thoughts. If it is a person, visualize zooming in on that person until they are right in front of you and then handle the situation from a loving and understanding perspective. Choose love.

Peace,

Dannika

 

5 Reasons YOU Need A Weekend Retreat

If you’re like many of us New Englanders, making the investment to participate in a Weekend Retreat seems like a big financial commitment. Many of us think of these types of purchases as a luxury… or even selfish. As frugal New Englanders, we are reluctant to make a big investment in something we perceive as only benefitting ourselves.

But guess what!? Participating in a weekend retreat is NOT selfish. Making the investment in your own self-care is actually a great way to “fill up your cup” and make sure that you are able to offer your best self to your daily commitments and to the others in your life who depend on you!

Here are just a few reasons to join us on our weekend retreat :

1. Take time to focus on YOU

I touched on this a little bit already, but I have to talk about it again because it is SO IMPORTANT. Some of us write off self-care because it seems.. well… selfish. But taking time to practice self care is extremely important for your mental and physical health. If that still doesn’t seem like a valuable way to use your time, remember that taking are of YOU is a way to ensure that you are able to rise to face all of the challenges life throws your way! Plus, if you’re down and out, you are less able to care for those in your life that depend on you. Taking care of yourself by spending a weekend practicing yoga, meditating, and eating healthy is a great step towards being the best you possible!

2. Community

This weekend retreat is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with like-minded individuals. Yoga in ME is beloved by many for our diverse and welcoming community. You’ll have a chance to connect with other yogis both on and off the mat and get to know the people you practice next to every day. Meals will be prepared and eaten as a group, family style. And that’s just one of the ways that we will be sharing as a community during the retreat. We’ll be practicing, eating, sleeping, breathing, discussing, sharing and relaxing as a group all weekend! We can’t wait to hang out with you!

3. Learning

Are you interested in deepening your practice? Learning more about the 8 limbs of yoga? Getting into the details and the practices that we don’t have time to get into in a 60-minute class? On this retreat, you’ll have full access to Lydia and Nancy for the whole weekend! While we have a plan for the weekend, discussions will follow the lead of the group. This means that we’ll have a chance to delve into the topics that particularly interest YOU. Between the 2 of us, we have over 20 years of yoga experience and expertise to share with you. The shared experiences and knowledge of the group are another valuable resource that we can’t wait to tap into. Plan to leave inspired and excited!

4. Relieve Stress

It’s no secret that yoga and meditation are great for relieving stress. And we’ll have the unique opportunity to be immersed in these practices for a the whole weekend. Time will be set aside for asana, meditation, breathing practice, and even rest! This is an opportunity to learn new relaxation techniques, and hone the ones you already know. We’ll be placing an emphasis on self care, nurturing ourselves and the group. Leave feeling relaxed, renewed, and ready to face the week ahead!

5. Be Fully Present

We’ll be physically close to home, but far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. During the retreat, we invite you to unplug and join us on an adventure towards being fully present. This weekend retreat will be an opportunity to be fully present with the group and the community, taking a break from the stress and anxiety that so often come hand in hand with work and home life!

Convinced? Spots are filling up FAST. Sign up to reserve your spot here!

Still not sure? Lydia and Nancy are available to answer any questions or address any concerns that you still have. Ask us at the studio, in the comments below, or contact us. We want to hear what you have to say!

Our Letter To The Yoga in ME Community – 2017

Dear Yoga in ME Family,

Happy New Year! Thank you for being a part of this truly unique and amazing community. You might have noticed, but owning a yoga studio is a labor of love. We aren’t driving fancy cars or living in mansions. We might not always have the best and the newest everything.

But this and every year, we are grateful for:

  • A Roof over our Heads
  • Our Health
  • Heat
  • Electricity, Hot Water, Warm Coats
  • Each Other
  • Our Wonderful Staff
  • The Vibrant and Inclusive Yoga in ME Community
  • Getting out of Credit Card Debt (yeah Lydia!)
  • The Privilege to be able to GIVE BACK to our Community through our fall food drive, FREE yoga for Veterans, and Yoga for 12 Steps of Recovery.

Thank you all for being a part of this amazing community.

We are so grateful for each and every one of you. In 2018, we strive to continue to be inclusive, REAL, friendly, and down-to-Earth. We promise to offer more and more free community events, and to continue to provide quality yoga for EVERYONE and EVERY age, race, class, body, gender.

This is no small thing.

It takes time and effort and we do not always do it as well as we might like, but we are working to be a more welcoming community each and every day. Because it is that important to us. Every time a student tells us that they feel welcomed at Yoga in ME, it makes everything we do WORTH IT. We know what it feels like to not fit it – we have both been there more than we’d like to say.

This is just one of the reasons that we are so committed to creating a space where our members feel like they belong!

Every day at Yoga in ME, we do the one thing that sets us apart from most other businesses, we intentionally cultivate mindfulness, community, and inner peace. We live in a world filled with activity where we are bombarded with information without pause and we are constantly told we need to have more and be more. Classes at Yoga in ME are, at their heart,  an opportunity to gather together as a community and cultivate a quiet mind and gratitude for what we are and what we have.

Yoga in ME is a community that is on a journey. We do not have all the answers,  but together we practice gratitude, we learn acceptance, and we seek to serve the needs of our community.

Happy New Year! May 2018 bring you joy, peace, happiness, and the ability to get through all of life’s challenges, big and small. Peace on Earth!

Warmly,
Lydia and Nancy and the Yoga in ME team

Friendly Beasts – What A Children’s Christmas Pageant Can Teach Us As Yogis

This past Sunday, my children performed in the Christmas pageant at church. I am not generally an extremely religious person. However, watching my girls in the Christmas pageant turned out to be a very moving experience. I was left more than a little teary-eyed. There’s something about the earnestness with which the children performed the story and sang the songs that embodied the essence of purity and good.

The religious nature of the story aside, the songs and scenes that they performed all covered meaningful topics. Things like: kindness, love, and inclusion. Things that are so desperately needed in these current times. Watching this, I felt hope.

I left the pageant, remembering the carol sung by the animals in the stable after Jesus’s birth: “Friendly Beasts”. Each group of animals: the donkey, cow, sheep, and doves sang about what they gave to baby Jesus when he was born. Their manger, straw, wool, carrying Mary, and even singing him to sleep. In his presence, even the animals were moved to stand beside this baby and emulate his “kind and good” nature.

This song, sung by innocent children, reminded me that we need to be an example. If we are kind and good, those in our presence will be touched by this and perhaps they will be moved to be kind and good as well.

At this time of year, when over-consumption, selfishness, and self-centered behavior are rampant, it is important to remember that our actions do matter. Whatever your beliefs, the Christmas story is a good reminder that how we treat others matters. Watching my children sing about giving selflessly, reminded me that I need to be their example of this behavior. In fact, all of us Yogis need to be an example of this behavior.

There is no guarantee that our children will see positive examples of being “kind and good” in the media or in their everyday lives. We hope that they will, but there is no guarantee. We are responsible to live our lives, as yogis and humans, in a way that includes being kind and good. If we live our lives in a way that we hope our children and those that we meet will be touched by, and even emulate, we are truly living our yoga.

In the comments: please tell us one way you are spreading kindness this holiday season! We hope that you will join us!

 

Disclaimer: Yoga in ME does not ascribe to or endorse any one religious tradition. Rather, we are inclusive and welcoming of all beliefs.

What the Prop!? Adding Props To Your Practice

Get Your Prop On!

The use of props during a yoga practice has always been a topic of yogic discussion. Introduced to modern yoga by BKS Iyengar, props were traditionally utilized to add support. Today various types of props can we seen in almost every studio across the country, such as:

  • Yoga Mats
  • Yoga Blocks
  • Bolsters
  • Straps
  • Eye Pillows (sometimes with essential oil for aromatherapy)
  • Yoga Towels (popular in Bikram, or Hot Yoga)
  • Yoga Chairs
  • Yoga Trapezes

Some classes, such as Restorative or Yin, practice exclusively with multiple  props to encourage complete support and relaxation. Yoga props, tools, toys, whatever you label them, all have one characteristic in common and that is to create a stable foundation.

For those who believe using props are for the weak or for beginners forget that they use a prop every time they practice: their yoga mat.

Although the yoga mat may be the first and most popular of yoga props, blocks, bolsters/blankets and straps are now becoming as mainstream as yoga itself. From a beginner’s standpoint, props can alleviate physical strain, reduce fear and even develop a sense of confidence at the start of their yoga journey.  For those who have been practicing longer may also see a benefit to incorporating props into their yoga by getting deeper into an pose (asana) or exploring a new pose all together. By definition, yoga is the unification of the mind and the body, and anything that enhances our mind-body union should be appreciated, even the yoga prop.

Your Practice, Your Props

Similar to the yoga mat, the yoga prop industry has grown exponentially. There are now hundreds of companies making thousands of props each year, thus making the decision-making process just as overwhelming. As enlightened yogis, we know that there is no wrong way to practice yoga, just like there is no wrong prop to use. Personal preference should be the determining factor when practicing with props. One may prefer the sturdiness to a cork block, while another may enjoy the comfort provided by a foam block, and none of them are wrong. The best part about using yoga props is discovering what works for YOUR body, because no one else can tell you what feels right for YOU.

From the most strong and flexible to the least, a strategically positioned yoga prop has the ability to elevate the physical and spiritual experiences of a yoga practice.

Your usage of props is as special and unique as your yoga practice. So, next time you are practicing at home, or in a studio, try adding a new prop and see what unfolds!

The Art of Walking Meditation

Does the idea of sitting cross-legged, alone with your thoughts, for long periods of time sound daunting to you? If this visualization already creates anxiety or unease for you, then meditation may have always been intimidating or downright unbearable for you. And that’s okay. Meditation, like yoga, has progressed from the long hours of sitting alone in the Himalayan mountains chanting ancient Mantras, to being woven into daily tasks, such as driving or doing the laundry.

Any action in your life can be performed with a meditative mind, thus cultivating peace in everything you do.

A basic, yet profound method of active meditation is a ‘walking meditation’, which emphasizes focus on the physical experience of walking, paying attention to the meticulous component of each individual step. With constant practice, walking meditation may enhance your ability to remain mindful by increasing your focus and awareness in any given moment. It is recommended to practice a walking meditation for ten minutes a day- which can be walking around the grocery store, taking your dog for a walk or right in the office!

Finding A Location

This practice can be done outside with Mother Nature supporting you, or inside any building- just be aware your slow pacing back and forth may cause some curiosity. Wherever you are practicing, locate a lane clear of debris or obstacles that may be distracting to your walking.

Walk Your Walk

Once you established a safe lane for movement, begin walking 10-15 steps in one direction, then pause and breath consciously for a brief moment. When you’re ready, rotate your body and walk back 10-15 steps in the other direction, again pausing at the end and breathing. Continue these calculated steps back and forth until you feel as though you completed your meditation.

Step By Step

The goal of ‘walking meditation’ is to deliberately think about actions you may subconsciously perform every day. Breaking down the mechanics of each step may feel silly or even awkward, but that heightened internal awareness is building mindfulness with each little step. According to mindfulness expert, Jon Kabat-Zinn, there are four basic components to each step:

  1. The lifting of the foot;
  2. The forward movement of the foot;
  3. The placing of the foot, heel first;
  4. The subtle shifting of the weight of the body onto the forward leg as the back heel lifts, while the toes remain on the floor, then repeat the cycle.

Integrating Walking Meditation into Your Life

For many people, walking slow with deliberation is an uncomfortable sensation, yet with effort and non-attachment to the results they may find that eventually all of their walking is more conscious and controlled. If your mind begins to wander during your walk, that’s OK- be gentle on yourself and call your attention back to the next step you are taking and repeat the components of each step.

The benefits of walking meditation affect us internally as well as externally, taking us out of auto-pilot and tuning us into the present moment.

By enhancing our mental and physical awareness, we also increase our sense of appreciation and enjoyment in every moment as life unfolds around us.    

 

Sources: Jon Kabat-Zinn, PH D., Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School