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Welcome to BreatheEcourse

Hello and welcome to BreatheEcourse!

I’m so honored that you’re joining me next week, and if you’re not, I hope you’ll consider it!

Thank you for your interest, your support and for choosing to look at your mental health in a new way. Implementing these skills and tools into my life has changed my anxiety and PTSD. I still struggle at times, but for the most part my life is manageable and even enjoyable. Most days I feel pretty grateful to have the life that I have and know that whatever comes up, I’ll be able to handle it.  That’s a lot different than it used to be.

Starting October 22nd we’ll be spending 7 days together. What that looks like is completely up to you. What I will do is send you emails daily with a core Breathe concept to bring some ease to your life. I’ll talk about a tool or skill that helps me. In the secret FB group, I’ll share my own experience of how the skill or tool works in my life.

I can’t promise you that everything is going to be shiny-happy right away, but I can promise you that these tools will help you shift your thinking and your mood, at least temporarily. I can teach you how to stop a panic attack, sleep better and start to feel a little lightness. I can show you that, but it will still be up to you to utilize the tools and skills. That’s the rub, isn’t it? To manage our anxiety, depression and/or PTSD we have to show up and do what we know how to do, Every Single Time. Cause it can spiral down incredibly fast, right?

Okay, so what will you need next week?

I always start BreatheEcourse and BreatheOnline with Let’s Get Clear and actually, you can start thinking about this now. Let’s Get Clear is about really being honest with ourselves about how anxiety, depression and/or PTSD is affecting us. Is your anxiety making you feel an overpowering need for control? Is that manifesting in skipped meals, washing hands, bullying your partner? Tough questions, but if you’re like me you don’t want to kid yourself anymore. You are ready for some brutal honesty, cause whether you do the work with me or with a therapist or in a group, brutal honestly is imperative. Aren’t you tired of trying to trick yourself? I absolutely am.

So, think about that. In addition, consider your time commitment over the next week. How important is managing your mental health to you right now? Are you really struggling? Or is life humming along okay and this is just a way to add some tools to your toolbox?

How fast do you want to make some changes? I’m a rip-the-bandaid-off kinda woman. I would rather put my life on hold for a bit and jump into healing with both feet so I can feel better fast, than take baby steps. Having said that, there’ve been plenty of times when I’ve had to do a little bit often. Feeling better is not where I like to do that.

First, you’ll need a journal to record all these honesty thoughts, take notes and just be present during the week. 

You can use absolutely anything you like.  It can be a notebook from the dollar store or a fancy leather bound journal. It can be your everyday journal or something new that you buy just for the week, or just for recording thoughts and feelings around your mental health. Whatever works for you is perfect. The only thing that I ask is that it be bound in some way, not just loose pages.

Well, I also insist that you write and not type. There’s lots of research out there that suggests the act of writing things out longhand is completely different than typing, when it comes to our brains.  The healing happens when we write longhand. The healing? Yes, healing. Journaling can even speed our physical healing. You don’t even have to write about your physical ailment.

What else? You also need an open mind and heart. We’re going to work on this, so if that scares you, don’t worry. All week we’re going to work to reach a place that’s called Wise Mind. I’ll explain more when we start, but basically it’s where we consistently look for the middle ground, a hard task for people prone to black and white thinking. Everything we do next week is going to be about centering  body, mind, spirit, so we can stand in Wise Mind as much as possible.

When we’re in Wise Mind, we’re not reacting to partial information, we’re using both sides of the brain to see the whole picture and then we can make observations about how we’re actually feeling and are able to make wise choices about how to act. Take action, not react is the key. 

So, let’s get in Wise Mind and create some changes in our brain chemistry! You’re going to get the most out of these 7 days, if you can stay on top of reading the emails, do the exercises and connect on the FB page. It’s 7 days! The more work you’re willing to do, the more things will shift for you and the better you’re going to feel after a few weeks of implementing these tools.

The secret FB group is not a whim. i really thought hard and long about what’s been the biggest help in managing my anxiety and PTSD. Overwhelmingly, it’s been connecting with people who get what I’m going through. Cause how can you really understand a panic attack unless you’ve had one? Saying, it feels like you might die, or explode, just doesn’t make sense to the person who’s never had one. It doesn’t. We need our people and for me, that means other people with similar health issues! Listen and share and connect and enjoy a whole group of like-minded people who get it.

So, find the perfect journal and the perfect writing implement and let’s join together in community, a core yogic concept, and take a step towards ease, wholeness and maybe even a little happiness.

If you’d like to join us, but haven’t signed up yet just drop me an email at Mel@ayogkitchen.com and I can add you to the list.

I’m starting BreatheOnline November 12th, for those of you interested in a longer session with some deeper work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

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Soccer Office

One of the joys of working for myself is that I get to work when I want to, how I want to. Occasionally I have a week like this one where I had clients Thursday, shopping and cooking Friday, and The Grief Journey Workshop Saturday. I want on the computer much. Then I’m behind on emails and have to catch up on social media and scheduling the week. When I’m in Kansas, Sundays are family days. So, I sneak in an email here and there. 

Today my office is a soccer field in Overland Park, KS. My son has a soccer tournament. I’m feel grateful for fun family days like today. It’s a beautiful fall day. It’s sunny and 74°. 

I feel so much gratitude to have days that are so extremely different, days that are so fun and challenging, days that are inspiring and humbling and days with so much connection. It’s the recipe for a great life. What’s your recipe?

Will You Be My Accountability Partner?

A few years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was embarrassed. I think the first thing I said to my doctor was “How can I have diabetes? I’m a yogi!” Well, I learned a lot about diabetes and I learned that while I ate pretty healthfully, I also did dangerous things like go for long periods of time without eating. I was on a glucose roller coaster, which is one of the fastest ways to become diabetic. I learned how to manage my diabetes. I took the long glucose test and found that while my body produces insulin, during the first two hours after I eat, my cells don’t accept the insulin. I’m slightly insulin resistant. I learned how to plan my meals so I eat every two hours and I maintain an even glucose level. Through diet and exercise I basically kicked diabetes’ butt. 

At that same doctor’s appointment I also found that I was anemic. I’m one of the rare people who just can’t get enough iron from eating just plant protein. I absolutely hate how iron pills mess with your stomach. So, I manage my anemia with by making sure I get enough red meat, eggs and dairy products. Again, I was embarrassed. I thought, I’m a healthy person. How can I have this second disorder? Basically through diet and exercise, I kicked anemia’s butt.

Last fall I was in my doctor’s office again and I asked her to feel this grinding in my back, cause I was worried that I had arthritis. She barely touched my back and said “Yep, that’s arthritis.” Now, I wasn’t completely surprised because I’d been inbackpain pain and I could feel the grinding and I’d had an x-ray of my hand a few years ago after a car accident and the doctor deemed by hand fine, but whispered that there was a touch of arthritis in my thumb. I wasn’t surprised, but I was upset.

I called my best friend crying. The arthritis in my hand already meant I didn’t practice hand balance poses anymore and because of that I rarely taught them. How could a yoga teacher have arthritis in her back and keep teaching active classes?

Well, you’re probably way ahead of where I was that day. There are lots of ways a yoga teacher can teach active classes and manage her arthritis. On top of that, I’ve been vowing to stop teaching regular classes and focus on workshops and my private clients. I wasn’t there yet, though. I was indulging in my devastation. 

My friend called back. A massage therapist, who went to Chinese medicine school and gives exercise homework to her clients, she reassured me that this was okay. In Eastern medicine arthritis is considered easily managed, if not curable. Arthritis is an indication of instability in the body. Totally manageable.

You’re waiting to hear that I kicked arthritis’ butt. Nope and that’s why I’m writing. Cause I wrote this post about how I was going to eat well for the inflammationinflammation and learn to stabilize and manage the arthritis. You won’t be surprised to hear that I haven’t really been doing that. 
My pain has been relatively manageable, but recently I found myself dealing with it again. I remembered all the things I thought I was going to do and realized that when the pain was better I forgot to do the things that help with my long-term back health. So, here I am again starting over. I went to the Salem Y last night. I spent a bunch of time stretching and on the foam roller. This morning my body felt awesome.

What I know, what I’ve been taught and what I teach over and over is that this thing we’re doing isn’t a one stop destination thing. This thing, this life, is a journey, a long stroll. I forget that. A Lot. When I started writing this post a few days ago, my intention was to come clean. To confess. To atone. Then over the days, I’ve realized, this isn’t a mistake/screwup/failure. This is just life. Some days we balance it well and focus on all the little important things. Sometimes, one thing gets really big and wants to be the biggest, most important, birthday girl. Then we focus on her exclusively.

What I thouaccountabilityght might be helpful/good/easier for me is to be accountable to this healing. So please be my accountability partner. Please hear my journey, share any experience/suggestion/help you might have and maybe we’ll do a little bit of healing together.

If you go back to the arthritis post, you’ll find that I think you’re the best readers ever. The fact that I want to share the dirty, nitty-gritty details about my back, its pain and my sometimes resentful thoughts about arthritis and my healing means that I really trust and like you and need some accountability. Thank you for always being there for me.

 

A few months ago a reader sent me an email praising the blog and revealing a connection with our family, specifically my doctor dad. I was so honored and pleased by the compliments and shocked by her figuring out that she’d worked with my dad 20 years earlier. Somehow, I’ve deleted/misplaced/lost the email. I fully intended on replying. If you’re still out there, PLEASE email me again and I promise I’ll reply promptly!

 

It’s Like Showering

I’ve been honored enough to work with some pretty amazing clients over the years. I’ve had students whose anxiety was so big they needed to sit in the HS parking lot for a full hour before going in those scary glass doors. I’ve worked with people whose chronic pain would flatten me, but they go through life with a smile as they explain that the pain is an 8 today. I’ve worked with people brand new to the practice, but so willing and eager it melts my heart.

In almost every class I mention that yoga only works if you do it.

Seems pretty straight forward right?  Over and over again in my life, though, I think I should get to do something just once or think about doing it and I’ll get all the benefits. Yet, there are so many things I know i have to do over and over again to get the benefits. I shower everyday, I wash the dishes everyday, I work everyday.

So, why do we get confused and think we should just go to one yoga class and if we don’t get the benefits, it’s not working. Or that working out isn’t helping,  we’re not getting stronger, we’re not losing weight. Oh yeah, maybe cause I just did it twice last week and only thought about it this week.  Well, no that’s not really going to get me stronger or help me lose weight, but then my nutty mind says it’s not working and I shouldn’t even bother.

Yoga is like showering. You have to do it over and over again to get the benefits. I can know this. I can hear this. Yet, there are times that I get frustrated because my neck hurts or the anxiety gets big and I think WHY! I’m a yogi, WHY is this happening.

Well, nine times out of ten it’s because it’s been a busy week and I haven’t practiced as much as I need to to  manage my neck pain or my anxiety.

Last year I was home in Chicago and found out some stuff about my parents and their health issues. viparita-karani-asanaMy mom is on blood pressure meds for her high blood pressure. So, I showed her Viparita Karani, legs up the wall. At 73, she was able to get into it easily.  Luckily, getting on the floor was okay for her. It’s not always easy. You sit next to a wall, with your hip next to the wall, and swing your legs up and lay down flat on the floor. Simple. Easy. For most of it it feels pretty yummy.  You shouldn’t feel like it’s a big stretch. If you do, you just scoot away from the wall till it feels comfortable. I know, though, for a lot of people her age getting on the floor can be hard or the thought of getting back up can be scary. She popped into it and then popped out. Good for mom!

She enjoyed the pose. She said it felt good. While I knew that she was getting these amazing benefits, she just relaxed.  A few months later when I visited again, I asked her about it. First, she didn’t remember doing the pose. Then when I prompted her and reminded her, she was like, Oh, I didn’t notice any difference so I didn’t do it again.

Yoga is like showering. Or taking your vitamins, or meds. You do it everyday. Or at least a few times a week for the benefits to be real and long-lasting.

Is there anything we do just once that lasts for months and months? Yet, we think that’s how it should be.

Feeling frustrated? Just remember, it’s like showering.

 

Need some help remembering your practice? We can work together long distance. Let’s Zoom! Need help using yoga to to manage your mental health? Sign up for #breatheonline. 

 

 

 

Arthritis has got my back

I love you guys. I really do. I keep saying I’m going to get better at writing more consistently and then I don’t. You keep showing up, though. I look at my numbers after being gone for so long and you’re still checking in, reading old posts and liking stuff I wrote. Thank you.

I’m going to say it again. I’m going to try to write more consistently. To be fair and cut myself a little slack, I always have the best intentions and I always have the best reasons for not writing more. This time there’s another new normal.

backA few months ago the grinding in my back was diagnosed as arthritis. Some of you may remember that I hurt my tailbone back in 2010 or so. It was when we were doing a lot of lying on our backs with our knees pulled into our chest in class. I was teaching at Be Moved and for the school district in Lawrence. We rolled our knees around in a circle giving our sacrums a little massage, then we’d switch directions. It helped my low back and tailbone pain and became a regular part of my teaching. I teach that in absolutely every class. While my tailbone eventually healed, the grinding that I used to hear in my pelvis never quite went away.

Last year I started having intense sciatic pain. Intense. Deep in my hip and throughout the femur. It felt like my bones were bruised. Sometimes I couldn’t find relief no matter what I did. Standing hurt, sitting hurt, laying flat hurt less. I was nauseated from the pain and scared. I couldn’t walk far and when I’m home in Salem I only walk, cause it’s a very walkable city.

Now, sciatic pain is one of the easiest things to heal with yoga. If I can’t help you feel better pretty fast, or if I put you in a position that makes you sciatic pain worse, it means there’s something wrong with your disc and you need to see your doctor, who will probably order an MRI. I’ve only had it happen once.

So I kept doing what I know to do and the pain wasn’t getting better. i got scared. I finally found a little relief in massage and reflexology twice a week. That’s not something that’s financially sustainable for me. The pain was ruling my life.

Finally, in my doctor’s office for another reason, it all clicked for me. I asked her to feel my back. I lay down and she slid her hand under me. I lifted my knee into my chest and the grinding did its thing. She nodded immediately. “That’s arthritis.” S

Now, I’ve had this grinding for almost six years without pain. The grinding is definitely more consistent these days. So I told her what i thought it was-Inflammation from the arthritis pushing something into my sciatic nerve somewhere other than the hip. It’s most common deep in the hip, which is why most of us feel the pain across the low back and often shooting from the hip down to the ankle. She nodded. So, I just need to control the inflammation? She nodded again. We talked about drugs and next steps and I decided that with this new information I would do what I know to do and avoid the drugs for as long as possible, hopefully until I’m way older.

Last week I flew from home to home, from Lawrence, KS to Salem, MA. It’s not a long flight, but enough that two days later I was in severe pain again. I got a massage. I stretched, not because it really helps, but because that’s often what I do when I need comfort. I go to the mat and when nothing else seems okay in my life, I just lie there. Sometimes lying there I’m inspired to move a bit and most often it’s into a stretch.

This week I returned to the Y. I was thinking I’d use the therapy pool and maybe explore the idea of swimming because everyone knows that’s good for your joints and great for your back. I wasn’t quite there, though, so I got on the treadmill and lifted some weights and practiced a few yoga poses. The next morning I woke pain free. Everyday since I’ve worked out and I’ve been fairly pain free.

So, I’m eating foods that help with inflammation, avoiding things that feed the inflammation. I’m adjusting to this weird thing called arthritis (and aging) and figuring out the new normal. I’ll write more, I promise.

Oh, and I lost four pounds this week!

 

Work with me, online or in person. I’m in Salem, MA until the first week of May and then I’ll be in the KC area. Online appointments available absolutely whenever they fit your schedule. I specialize in yoga for anxiety, depression and now, arthritis. Private sessions are on sale right now! $35 for 50 minutes online. mel@ayogikitchen.com, http://bit.ly/1vLO0kg. Looking forward to hearing from you!

There is no behind. You’re perfect.

You all know how I like to beat myself up about stuff, right? You might be able to identify with me. You might find it charming in the same way my mentors over the years have found it. One after one throughout my 20s and 30s they get this warm, indulgent smile on their faces and shake their heads slowly. Oh, Melissa they’d often say.

girlfriendsNow, I find myself the mentor and I try to avoid that knowing indulgence. More often, I find myself smiling at myself, Still making those same mistakes years later. I have to wonder if I ever learn.

A few days ago I blogged that I had signed up for some self-care online challenges and courses and hadn’t done any of them. Of course, I’ve spent some time beating myself up about it.  I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. I’m working on it.

I signed up for Sheila Pai’s Nurturing You: Online Retreat. So instead of continuing to beat myself up, I decided that even if I was behind I could sill benefit. This is growth for me. So, I took some time to listen to the interviews and meditation that she offers weekly.  They were wonderful and I urge you to check sheilaher out.

Surprisingly, my biggest takeaway was just from what she shared in her email reminder. You’re not behind. It’s okay if you’re catching up. It’s okay to be right where you are. It’s the perfect place for right now.

I teach this ALL the time. I urge my students and to stay on their own mats. I tell them it doesn’t matter what the person next to you is doing, it doesn’t matter what they think about you-they should be staying on their own mat too. I remind them that they’re right where they’re supposed to be and the beauty of yoga is that it meets you right where you are every single time.IMG_20140527_083649_671

Yoga has this amazing capacity to bring you the lesson on the mat. The one lesson that you’re really supposed to get. I believe this is true in life, just walking down the street, but it never ever fails when you get on the mat. You open your heart and listen. and yoga helps you smack right into yourself until you get to the core or the practice that you really need.

When you think of your practice whether it’s yoga or just taking moments of quiet you can’t really be behind. Only the moment that you’re in matters and that moment is always here.

This crazy idea of being behind is my biggest  illusion. There’s so little that matters outside of this moment and this moment is always right where I’m supposed to be.

If your brain is like mine and is busy with thinking about the  future, join me in staying in the present. Breathe, a yoga group for anxiety and depression is a six week course for connection, sharing, mindfulness, breath work and yoga poses to help us manage emotions. We start in person October 14th in Salem, MA and in January online. See the schedule for more information.