3 Things To Let Go Of Today

 

Fresh off the weekend can be such a dreadful experience. For me, Sunday’s can even be difficult because all I think about is how I have to go back to work the next day. Mid week can be rough, and lets be honest…any day of the week can be frustrating. Negative thoughts consume the mind so easily, so in this short post I want to list 3 things to let go of and try to turn those not so good thoughts around!

  1. Let go of anything that happened yesterday, last week, last year, and also let go of anything that hasn’t happened yet
  2. Let go of opinions, judgments, complaints, financial situations, and worry of the unknown.
  3. Let go of the stress your to-do list is bringing you. Simply be aware that you have things to do, and that you will accomplish them.

Easier said that done, that’s why it’s called practice! It won’t completely change over night, but the more you feed your brain positive thoughts the easier it will be to let go. Sometimes I have to mentally talk to myself, just forcing yourself to say the words is great practice. The hardest part about this exercise is realizing the negative thoughts and worries. You can only change the direction of your thoughts when you realize they are toxic.

I try to meditate every single day, of course I have days where I don’t because that’s life. Having meditation as part of a routine has helped me recognize negative thoughts a lot easier than any other method. I highly recommend the app Headspace, a guided meditation practice. The app offers an anxiety series, stress series, and also individual sessions such as fear of flying, sleeping, interviews, and SO much more.

If anything, tell yourself once a day something you are really grateful for. Whether that be sunshine, coffee, your significant other, your health, your dog….etc.

Namaste

 

 

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You Are A Badass

You Are A Badass is a book I’m going to read over and over again, and I never do that with books. I have never had such a quick read where every.single.page has incredible, powerful, eye opening advice. Not only does she provide so much great information, she is also funny. I would be so deep into a chapter really taking in the words on the pages, and suddenly laugh out loud. I have already suggested this book to my family and multiple friends–and their reactions were exactly what I expected.

I was originally drawn to this book because I kept seeing it pop up everywhere I went, a few of my favorite yogis had read and praised it, and when I looked it up to read what it was about I immediately went to buy it. The sabotaging thoughts we have about ourselves and our dreams can drown us in depression and fear. The doubt we have about chasing after what we really want because of what other’s think and say plays way too big of a role in our lives. Jen Sincero shares her stories, mistakes, and how she made it where she is today with pure honesty and humor. I know we can all relate to a few of her stories and benefit from this brilliant book. I promise by the end of the last page, you will have more motivation than you’ve ever had to go out and face whatever it is you’ve been avoiding.

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Discovering Meditation

When I first started showing interest in yoga, I took a Beginners Series that lasted 8 weeks. During the very first class my teacher went around the room and asked each of us why we were there. I could have listed 100 reasons but the main reason was to get rid of my anxiety. She looked at me and said “you will never get rid of anxiety, but you can manage it” and I immediately became overwhelmed with negative thoughts. How can I not get rid of it? Isn’t yoga supposed to make me happy all the time and not stressed? Why am I even here then? This is so expensive and I’m wasting my time. You get the idea of what mindset I was in. Given my attitude at the time, I told myself I had already paid for the 8 weeks and I was going to finish it.

I will never forget that very first class. I didn’t have an ‘oh my gosh this is exactly what I’ve been looking for’ moment, not even close. The first thing my teacher started talking about was the breath, and we went through multiple breathing exercises and explained the benefits of each type. I wear a Garmin most of the time when I do any sort of exercise and I mainly use it to monitor my heart rate. Just from doing those breathing exercises my heart rate went from 115 (yes, that was just from sitting there) to right around 95. Everyone is different, but for me that was close to a dang miracle.

She touched a little bit on meditation that day but not much. We started getting into basic poses and how to correctly get in them. It sparked interest for me because I thought “well, if that little breathing exercise lowered my heart rate, I’m curious what this meditation is all about”. I’ll be honest, I laughed at the thought of meditation. It’s super weird, you just sit there and breathe. I did not understand it at all. Another teacher suggested the app Headspace, so I decided to give it a try. Headspace is a guided meditation, he helps you through it and totally understands the struggle of just starting out. He also has an awesome accent, so it’s very very easy to listen to him 🙂 I was absolutely terrible at it. I could not focus on my breath to save my life. My mind went in every direction possible and I couldn’t sit still. I started to give up after just ONE session, and when you first start the sessions they are maybe 10 minutes long and I think you only try the meditation part for 5 minutes. It was embarrassing and frustrating.

Obviously I’m going to say the more I did it, the better I got. Just like with anything else you’re trying to accomplish, practice makes progress. My whole point here is not because it completely made my anxiety vanish, my teacher was right–you can’t get rid of anxiety, but oh my gosh you can surely manage it. It’s amazing what meditating did for me and how I handle situations now. Am I an expert? Heck no. I still have times where I’m super overwhelmed and let stress get to me. I am just now able to get up to 15 minutes and my mind still wanders during sessions, but now I can identify that and bring my mind back to my breath.

I thought meditating would only help how I handle anxiety, but it’s done so much more. The combination of yoga + meditation has helped me in countless ways. I respond to ‘stressful’ situations much better, I don’t care what people think, I don’t worry about anyone’s business, I’m much more positive overall, I encourage people more often, and I’m much more careful about who I choose to spend time with and surround myself with. I used to always say ‘yes’ to people to make them happy even if it made me miserable. I opened up to the wrong people and I let people’s opinions get to me and influence my decisions. I can’t say those things never happen to me anymore, but they definitely happen a lot less often and I can handle negative emotions so much better now. I probably say this in every post, but our life on this earth is so short…and I will not let other people make me feel like I have to live my life a certain way.

This was A LOT longer than what I expected but I really hope that if you struggle with anxiety or just being overwhelmed you give meditation a try. Stick with it for a few sessions, and watch the magic unfold.

 

Namaste,

Chels

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Tight Hamstrings

I avoid working on my hamstrings like the plague because it’s what I need to work on the most. I have always had extremely tight hamstrings and no matter what I did or how much I stretched, they never seemed to loosen up. Practicing yoga is the first time I have actually seen and felt a difference in them, and it definitely didn’t happen overnight! After about 8 months of solid practice (3-5 times a week) I can actually touch my toes without wanting to cry.

Certain poses helped me more than others, so I wanted to share them with you and hope you benefit from them as much as I have! I incorporate these poses every single time I practice, whether it’s through a flow or I just run through them on an easier/slower day. You’ll notice I’m no where near the point of keeping my knees straight and folding down all the way. This is a struggle for me and a particular part of my body that needs a little more TLC than the rest. Surprisingly these photos are an improvement from what I could do a few months ago! I try to hold these poses longer than usual–about 10 slow and steady breaths. If your body is screaming at you, don’t hold it long. Listen to your body, you should feel tightness-not pain.

Inhales: Imagine your breath flowing through the space where you feel a lot of tightness

Exhales: Imagine the release of tightness and try to deepen the stretch a tiny bit more. [For example, in Pyramid Pose when you exhale try to bring your chest towards your leg a little more. If you physically can’t, still imagine it!]

 

 

Remember it’s okay to keep a bend in your knees if you have super tight hamstrings (like me) eventually we will be able to keep them straight! Don’t forget to do each pose on both sides.

1. Ragdoll Pose

2. Extended Triangle Pose

3. Splits Prep

4. Wide-Legged Forward Fold

5. Seated Forward Fold

6. Pyramid Pose

 

 

 

Namaste

 

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Quick Poses to Build Strength

Some days are just so busy I don’t have time to do an hour long yoga flow. I love quick poses that force me to concentrate while I’m struggling to get to that 5th or 7th breath because I know I’m building my strength. Some days I also feel very off balance and like it’s my first time ever on the mat–and that’s OKAY! Everyone has off days and always will. Embrace it. Below are a few poses I like to hold for 5-7 breaths and usually go through twice. The most important thing when doing these poses, or any pose, is to stay with your breath. Focus and stay with your breath. Easier said than done, I know. If you can’t hold a certain pose for 5-7 breaths, drop it down to 3 breaths. You will work your way to holding them longer the more you practice! I am no expert at yoga, but that’s what I love about it. I love the no judgement (of yourself + others) and the always learning aspect of this practice. One day I will be teaching to other people, but I will ALWAYS be a student.

 

High Plank

I know everyone has heard of high plank and probably hates it, but the benefits are amazing. Try to hold for 3 breaths, and if you feel you can do more hold for 5-7 breaths.

 

Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Chair pose is great for building strength in your lower back and leg muscles. Hold for 3 breaths, or 5-7 breaths

 

Crow Pose (Bakasana) 

^December 2016

^April 2017

 

First, let me tell you I have been constantly working on this pose. It took a lot of baby steps to fly, but the more I practiced the more my strength and confidence grew. This can be a scary one because you feel like you’re going to face plant (and I have…more than once). I had a bolster in front of me the first 48579285 times I practiced Crow. The key is to look about 3 feet ahead of you–it will help your balance tremendously! Also this pose is not all about your arm strength, it’s about core strength. I love this pose because it improves balance and body coordination while strengthening the upper arms, core, and stretches the upper back.

I decided to show a progress picture for this pose, the top is from December 2016 and the bottom is from April 2017. It always feels like I’m not getting stronger until I compare pictures. I record every practice I do at home, not only to see my progress but to see my form and technique. Sometimes I think I’m doing great until I look at the video, and I am so far from great!! It’s a little weird watching yourself on camera, but it honestly helps so much for when you can’t make it to the studio and have a teacher help correct you. Practice makes progress!!!

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Anxiety Workshop

I went to a yoga workshop a few weeks ago about managing anxiety, something a lot of us are too familiar with. I have struggled with anxiety for years, which is what originally brought me to practice yoga. I have only been practicing for a little over a year and have learned so much already. It’s not about being in a pretzel shaped pose and being able to balance like a pro, I can barely touch my toes to this day and still see amazing results from this practice.

Being able to calm my anxious mind is something I have always had a hard time with. I have constant worries running through my head all day and sometimes don’t even realize it. Even thinking 5 minutes into the future can cause anxiety, and it’s so important to live in the present moment. When people ask what the hardest practice for me is, I always answer with Restorative Yoga. I get crazy looks because it’s literally an hour long practice where you hold only a handful of resting poses. It’s the hardest practice for me because when I’m laying down comfortably in a quiet environment my mind starts to go a million miles a minute. Relaxing and quieting my mind is not an easy task for me. I always try to focus on my breath during this incredibly beneficial practice–I count to 10 and then start over.

It’s something I’ll always struggle with but will always continue to work on. Restorative is very necessary for our busy lives. I use props for a lot of restorative poses, but you can always do them without props. Below are a few of my favorites:

 

Legs Up the Wall [Viparita Karani]

-Regulates blood flow

-Calming to nervous system

-Improves digestion

-Relieves mild backache

-Relief for headaches & migraines

-Calms anxiety

Child’s Pose [Balasana]

-Quiets the mind

-Releases lower back tension

-Gently stretches hips

-Normalizes circulation

Reclining Bound Angle Pose [Supta Baddha Konasana]

-Improves circulation

-Stretches knees and inner thighs

-Relieves stress

-Improves digestion

Shavasana [Savasana or Corpse Pose]

Everyone’s favorite, right?!

-Calms the mind

-Extremely relaxing

-Reduces fatigue

-Good time to connect with your breath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Overcoming My Fear

I am facing my fear and starting this scary journey to an even happier me and blog it along the way! It’s frightening trying to decide what to do in life and what your purpose is. I have been praying for guidance and patience because I feel like there’s something else out there for me. Don’t get me wrong-I am so blessed in MANY ways, but I can’t help but feel this itch to do something more, get out of my comfort zone and share my experiences hoping to inspire/help others.

Honestly, I’m struggling even writing this first post. I have written and read this 248759 times, with about 825783 reasons not to post it. I have always been the type to never share things or be very public about my life. I have had this urge to document my journey while sharing things I love for a while now, so facing fear #1–CHECK! My blog is designed to share my love of yoga, reading, healthier living, things that make me smile in life, and even sharing personal struggles while I find my true happiness-whatever that may be. I hope to not only inspire others, but to learn from others along the way.

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