Week 3 Yoga Poses to Manage Your Mood

Week3yogaposes`Over at breatheOnline we’re starting week 3 and focusing on yoga poses to help us manage our anxiety and depression. 

Getting ready for this week I’ve been reading, researching and even just reflecting on my own practice, what it’s meant to me and how I manage with yoga.

There are so many yoga poses that help mange my anxiety and ptsd. Legs up the wall, supported child’s pose, supine supported twist, prasarita padottanasana. I use them regularly to manage my emotions. 

The biggest gift from yoga though is that feeling that I got the first day I pressed up into down dog. it was this scary, exhilarating, peaceful feeling. It was coming home to me. I was 26 and I’d never felt that feeling.  I felt it for a moment and then it slipped away. I remember thinking, wait! what was that? it came back for savasana and I was hooked.

Now 21 years later, it comes quickly and lasts past my practice. Sometimes it stays with me for days, but a yoga practice is like showering. You have to do it often to get the results.

Without this simple gift I would be lost.  Well, more lost than I normally am, but it’s a tool that I can pull out quickly and easily.  When I feel lost, which I often do, I can get on the mat and find myself. And not just find myself, but my most honest and authentic self. This is the place where I can’t lie to myself. I can’t hear the voices in the back of my head or the critical people around me. On the mat, there’s only Melissa.

I invited my BreatheOnline class to practice legs up the wall for at least five minutes every morning this week and notice the difference after just a week. Join us! 

BreatheOnline is a six week long course to manage anxiety and depression in a new way. We’re just starting our third week. You work in your place, at your pace, so you can join us and I’ll get you caught up! 

 

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My Office Today

Waiting on the Upper West Side

This was my office today.

It wasn’t supposed to be. It was supposed to be a very different day.

First, I was supposed to hit it early and get a bunch of work done before I left at 7am to cook for a client. When I woke up at 5:30, I was pretty tired. I had a text message from a friend who wanted to hang out a bit after breakfast, at 8am. So, I shifted, because I was tired and because, well, connection and coffee with a friend.

Then my friend had a client that I wanted to meet. This client had only heard about me from my friend, but had referred me and I ended up booking a client. So, I wanted to meet her, give her some food and thank her for the blind referral.

I finally got out of the house and stopped to grab a bite at the corner cafe, where I got a kale ricotta croissant. There was nowhere to sit, so I decided to just get grab a train and head to work. I walked around the corner to the Colombian bakery. I ordered extra empanadas and an iced coffee so my total would be over the ten dollar credit card minimum only to find, as I was paying, that their credit card machine was down. Luckily, I had cash.

I had a bag full of pastries and a coffee with a lot less cash in my pocket, but I figured I’d have food for tonight or for tomorrow morning. Probably the Universe preparing me.  

Missed the train by 20 seconds only to victoriously see, another, practically empty train behind it. Out of service. So, I waited.

Second train came quickly and I got a seat. Score!

Met the doorman at my client’s building with a smile, explaining that I’m the Jackson’s chef. Blank stare. Not a doorman I’ve met before. Usually they just wave me in. We both tried calling the client. She’d already emailed me that I’d only see her husband today, cause she had a work outing. Phone went straight to voicemail. I smiled and reassured the doorman that I’d walk down the street, sit at Starbucks and be back when she called in. I could have forced the issue. I saw that moment of doubt in his eyes. He was just doing his job and who am I to make that more difficult?

Three hours later, at Starbucks, amongst the homeless teenagers, I texted my client and told her to let me know when we should reschedule. I’d completed a food order for tomorrow’s client, watched a marketing class on CreateLive, created a meal plan for another client and posted about Self-Care for my online anxiety and depression course.

I decided to walk, cause, you know, 10,000 steps.  I stopped at the Best Buy at Columbus Circle, grabbed chickpea pasta on sale at Whole Foods. I decided to walk another ten blocks to catch the most direct train. Cause, well, 10,000 steps. I remembered that I still needed to throw something together for someone in my building.  So I stopped at a local market to see if bacon was on sale. It wasn’t.

Kept walking. Remembered that while I’d put the order together for tomorrow’s client, I hadn’t actually ordered it. So, I stopped at another Starbuck’s and stole wifi and used my client’s Amex to order her food for her. 

Caught the train, got a seat,  then realized I was headed in the wrong direction. Got off, switched directions and got a seat on the uptown train. Score!

Got to my neighborhood. Sprinkling.  I decided to stop and grab a bottle of wine. Harder rain. Stopped at my regular market where I knew bacon was on sale, passed up the sad looking romaine and headed to the green grocer’s. The skies opened up and all of the sudden I was drenched and my paper Whole Foods bag was threatening to dump my wine on the cement.

I ducked into a neighborhood cafe, ordered a glass of wine, dried myself as best I could with the extra napkins the waitress brought me and pulled out my trusty and much loved new Mac. Here I sit writing.

This is the second time in two months that I’ve been caught it in a downpour. Both times I’ve been struck by how lucky I am that all I have to do is get home, peel off my wet clothes, change into something comfy and go about my day. I don’t have to worry that my socks and shoes are wet and now I’ll probably get a blister, which could lead to an infection and since I have blood glucose issues, could be hazardous to my health.

Each time I’ve worried that my fancy Osprey messenger bag won’t actually keep my pricey computer dry.

I don’t have to worry that all my belongings are soaked and who knows how long it will take them to dry. How would I even get them all dry if I didn’t have a home?

Both times I have thanked goddess that I’m not homeless. I have choices. I have options.

Today it struck me that while my day was discouraging, a little frustrating and mostly annoying, it was a day of privilege.

I am a bi, woman of color. Some may argue that I can’t know true privilege. I argue that absolutely every part of my day today reeked of privilege. At every point of my day I had more than one choice. I think that may be the true marker of privilege.

Choices, options, are privilege in a way that having a big house and a fat bank account can’t know.

I am extremely grateful for my life. It’s not always easy and I don’t always do it pretty, but I do it me. That is extreme privilege.

I have other markers, more socially expectred markers, of privilege. I am a private school baby. I have an education that few in our country, or anywhere, get. I grew up with certain expectations for my life. When I stepped off that path, it was because I chose it, not because I had to.

All the mistakes, all the diversions, I chose. I made mistakes, of course, but nothing was just shitty luck or a system that didn’t support my dreams or efforts. It was all me, baby.

Some days my life sucks. Just like everyone’s life sometimes sucks. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed. Some days I am so tired of being tired and so tired of everything being so hard.

Then, I have a day like today, where I could have ended up with one of those attitudes. It could have been a why-me-kinda-day. Today, I excercised the power to choose my attitude. Today it wasn’t hard.

Some days the anxiety is too big. Some days the PTSD kicks me in the butt. Some days those things start to feel big, but I can make different choices. Some days I can’t.

Today was a day where I got to chose whether the obstacles were going to knock me on my ass or lead me to happily walk through the rain.

That is privilege.

Oh, and I’m at 10,164 steps. Score!

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Thank You Universe!

Anything worth doing

This is the perfect reminder today. The first video for BreatheOnline went out yesterday and I’m having a little vulnerability hangover. You can see it too. Part 1 is for all to see, http://on.fb.me/1jIdIFf

I’m also doing some new consulting work this afternoon and am having a huge block. Ive been on the mat, meditated and then opened Facebook and here are the words I needed to hear.

It was a memory from Facebook and it was the perfect timing.

So often things show up just when you need them. We just have to pay attention. I can’t tell you how often those memories pop up and I ignore them. Today, I just decided to look and there it was.

So often the answer to what’s blocking me or what’s holding me back is to open my heart and do whatever it is with my whole heart. The yoga answer is to let whatever it is move from my brain to my heart. Overthinking never helps me.

Brene Brown  talks about the whole heart and the word courage.  “The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic.”

So, I need to remember both the definition of the word, as we know it today and the word as it was originally intended. The Universe has asked me to be brave and open my heart, to let the vulnerability be okay and to keep doing what I know to do with my whole heart. Yoga has taught me that’s always the answer. I just forget sometimes.

Today I heard what I needed to hear.
Thanks Universe!

I’ve Been In Bed

bedFor the last few months I’ve had some health issues to deal with. They’ve felt scary and big and I’m at that wait and see place. Everything is fine for now, but next year, with a new bunch of tests, I’ll know more. This week I had a reaction to a procedure. It knocked me on my butt. I took to my bed.

iIt was lovely there. Now, normally, I’m the kinda person who can live in bed. I like to do everything in bed. It’s where I drink my morning coffee and check my email first thing. Then I decide what the day needs to look like. Sometimes it sucks. I have a client and have to hop the subway..

Sometimes, though, there are no fires. No clients with overwhelming anxiety, no need to be at Starbucks to get things done. Then I can snuggle back in and do a little bed living.

There is nothing I won’t do in bed. I read, watch Netflix, eat, drink coffee, paint my nails, answer emails, plan menus, return phone calls, schedule, meditate and even do some stretches. (yes, I know what sleep specialists say about people like me)

Yesterday I didn’t do anything. There was some Netflix and some Facebook, but mostly being in pain and being in bed just gave me time to be. bed3

We live in a society where we schedule time to be. We get up extra early to be. We go on retreat to be. I meditate and practice mindful movement, so I also schedule time to be.

Yesterday, the universe had a different plan for me. I’m a big one for listening to the universe. Sometimes, like all of us, I don’t do what the universe has in store for me, but I’ve learned the hard way that’s always a bad choice.

So, I listened and did what I knew to do. I just was quiet and let my body have the time it needed to heal. Hour after hour, I just relaxed. It was delicious. It was better than being mindful. It was better than the sense of accomplishment from cleaning out my inbox. It was better than catching up with friends on the phone. It was just a full day of nothing!

I didn’t recognize the true benefit till today.

Today I’m not 100%, but I feel clear and rested. RESTED! I find myself smiling easier and my brain is quiet. Today feels easy.

bed4Most days I have to work, and sometimes hard, to get these benefits. Who knew just a day of nothing could reap such benefits?

I know that I need to take more days off and need to just relax a lot more. Often my days off are spent doing other things, like laundry. A day where I just sit? Just be?

I’m going to have to work on that!

 

This week I’m playing catch up and gearing up for Practices for Peace and Nourishing Food Simplified, July 8th and 9th, both at Om Tree Shala. Join me this weekend!  Hitting Manhattan, NY and Salem, Ma later this year. 

Can’t work with me one on one? Join me starting Monday July 10th for BreatheEcourse, free seven days of emails in your inbox with tips and tools to help you manage anxiety and depression. Starting July 23rd, BreatheOnline, a six week course for more in depth work at a slower pace. 

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It’s My Birthday Week!

img_0695Okay, this was actually my break. It’s my birthday week and that’s a very special week for me. It’s the week i look back at the last 12 months. i think about what’s been fun and easy, what the struggles were and where the growth was.

This is my New Year’s. My birthday is when I think about what’s happened, but also about what’s coming. this is when I dream.

So, this week as I need to work hard to get caught up for Practices for Peace in Lawrence, develop Nourishing Food Simplified and organize myself for BreatheOnline, I’m making myself taking some good, intentional self-care breaks.

The last few months I’ve been less than great at self-care. i keep thinking I’ll take a break soon. To be honest, I’ve had some health issues and Ive had to have tests and doctor’s appointments and had days that I just couldn’t fit another thing in. I’m embarrassed to say that spending so much time focused on me and having all this overwhelming attention has made me shy away from self-care.

It’s not something I’m proud of. I’m turning it around, though. So, if I can’t do full days of meditating, walking by the water, massage and journaling, all my favorite self-care activities, I’ll at least take little breaks. And I’ll share them. And don’t worry, I’m not sunning, I just spent a few minutes with my eyes closed on the roof in between veggie burgers and breakfast bites and then i snapped this perfect pic.

Expect more birthday pics and even a giveaway over the next 7 days or so!

 

 

 

You Can’t Do It Alone

I don’t know where so many of us got the idea that we’re supposed to struggle through this life by ourselves. Well, we have this idea that we find our soulmate and then that’s it. That’s the person we get and that’s it.

It’s such a prevalent idea and it’s SO wrong. If you hear of someone’s success, somehow you begrudge her by saying her parents helped her or she married well. Not only is that idea so ridiculous, but it’s disrespectful and sexist to women and to that woman specifically.

Of course someone helped her, cause that’s what successful people know to do. They know how to use their resources, ask for help and take help when they need it. Whether they pay for that help or lean on their friends makes no difference. Help is help and we all need it.

Women are, perhaps, better at this than men. It’s the way our brains are wired. We’re good at and thrive on connection. So we instinctively look around us to get and give help.

In the past few years the concept of community has become both skewed and trendy. We call people we don’t even know our peeps or our tribe. Somehow, by liking someone’s post or becoming a follower we are creating connection.

I call bullshit.

We need our tribes and our communities, but they need to be more than faceless names on social media. We need to hear how others are suffering just like us, but from the people we lay eyes on over coffee or a glass of wine or every morning when we wake. We need the people who are a part of our stories and who share our stories, cause that’s where the connection is the strongest.

We need to hear stories and connect and it’s nice to hear that a total stranger gets us, but that’s not where the healing happens. We need each other in a deeper way than we’ve engaged over the past fifteen or twenty years online.

It’s way too hard to do it alone. I think it’s hard just working your job, being married, raising your kids, dealing with your parents. Add anxiety or depression to that? You can’t do it alone. You CAN”T.

Don’t take that as a challenge, but maybe take it as the voice of experience.

You may figure out how to trudge through life by yourself, but most of us will just be trudging if we try to do it alone. We won’t soar, float, giggle or fly through. And isn’t it much more fun to do any of those than trudge through?

Everything is better with friends and like-minded people right? What if you get to hold someone’s hand and skip through your next big/scary/overwhelming business project knowing that someone’s got your back and you have a compassionate voice to connect with at 3am when the who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are voice gets big? It gets big for all of us, so stop telling yourself to quit the voice and just accept that it’s going to happen. So what are you going to do about it?

Time after time, I see clients realize how important connection is to our brains and really embrace that piece of managing anxiety and depression. Then, they learn to actually make connection on a deeper level, not just the chit-chat level. Their lives start to shift. All of the sudden they don’t feel so alone. They don’t feel quite so lost.

All of the sudden you have someone to call when you want to bounce an idea, or in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep cause your brain is so busy, or when the emotions feel big. You’ve got someone who gets what you’re going through and that’s powerful.

So, if you think you’re doing fine just trudging along by yourself, think about shifting your thinking. I know it’s scary and I know it can be hard, but I promise it’s worth it. It’s that initial step of asking someone out to coffee and that can be big and scary, but then the benefits start to roll in.

You’ll find that after that first coffee meet, you’re a little lighter, a little happier, feeling a bit more supported. It won’t be long before reaching out feels more comfortable. If it doesn’t? You’ll just keep practicing.

The thing I’ve learned on that yoga mat is that it’s not about the pose, it’s about the moment. It’s not about getting it perfectly, it’s about what your brain, body, heart does when you face a challenge.

It’s called practice because it’s never done, it’s never perfect. We keep doing it again and again and each time we learn a little something about ourselves. That is a lesson that I take off the mat over and over. Taking it into my life means I learn a little bit about self-compassion and self-love. I learn to cut myself some slack. I learn that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to take the help.

Managing anxiety and depression is an every day job. We can’t do it alone. Not only do we need each other because sometimes the emotions get really big, too big for one person, but also connection is one of the things that makes our brains healthier.

If you are feeling stuck or lost, I promise there are people there for you. If you’re finding trouble finding them, let me know. I get it, I’m here and I got you.

 

Join me for the Free BreatheEcourse, seven days to help you Get Clear and learn tools, tips and skills to manage anxiety and depression. It’s the introduction to BreatheOnline, the six week course that you do in the comfort of your home. I know it’s scary, but contact me and let’s get started making your life better. Mel@ayogikitchen.com,  http://bit.ly/1TKsxq8

 

Extreme Self-Care

wpid-img_20150912_153400964_hdr.jpgThis week my BreatheOnline class is focusing on self-care. It’s a way of managing anxiety and depression, but it’s also a form of self-love that too many of us ignore.  Earlier in the week I asked my students to journal about self-care. They wrote about their feelings about the idea of self-care, about what self-care looks like to them and  I wrote to the, at length, about what self-care is not. It’s not maintenance.

Ironically, today, i practiced extreme self-care. Which pretty much means, I did nothing.  Now usually when I practice self-care I practice restorative yoga, I meditate, I get a massage, I walk by the ocean, I write for an extra long time in my journal.

I had good intentions. I really did. With everything that’s going on with the protests and the constant barrage of news and with some personal relationship stuff, I’m just exhausted. So, I took it easy. I stayed in bed till after nine. I procrastinated by surfing around the internet. I walked to lunch and thought I’d stop at the library to print flyers. It just seemed like too much. So, I went back home, buying a Little Debbie Swiss Roll on the way. I napped.  I talked to my daughter. I wanted to work out, but I was too tired, so I took a long walk in the snow and bought paper towels and roast beef for a simple sandwich dinner. I was quiet and I turned inward.heartopeningIII

I watched a lot of Netflix today. My house is a bit of a mess. The sink has a lot of dishes.  There’s laundry waiting on the floor by the closet.

And you know what? It’s okay. All that stuff will be there tomorrow. I gave myself permission to just have a quiet day of Netflix, napping and snacking. The work will always be there. The chores will always be there. Today, I put myself first.