Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

October 24, 2018

New to Yoga? Limber Tree is Perfect for You!

Welcome new yoga students!  Because many people ask if we have classes for those who are new to yoga, we want to let you know that all of our classes are suitable for beginners! Actually, we believe Limber Tree is PERFECT for those who are new to their yoga practice.  All of our classes have the foundations of breathing and alignment–which is what the yoga journey is really all about.  Therefore, Limber Tree is the place for you to begin!

We use many props, modifications, and slow our classes down (which don’t make them less effective in any aspect of the yoga practice), so that you feel that you can be completely mindful as you explore the poses, breathing techniques, and meditations, even if you’re new to yoga. We also feel it is best to practice in a room with a lower room temperature (70-80 degrees) for your utmost safety and for the best ability to avoid injury in your practice.

To make yoga as accessible as possible, we offer various styles of classes and a variety of teachers throughout the day, every day of the week, to fit your needs and schedule.

OUR PROMISE TO YOU:  We promise that it will be our priority that we will not make you feel left behind or uncomfortable in class.  Therefore, we promise you a safe and comfortable space to begin your practice.   We have well-trained teachers that are here to assist you with your journey.  Remember, everyone starts out on their mat as a new student each day, even if they have practiced many times!

Click here for some great tips for going to your first class!

If you have additional questions about our studio, click here!

Pricing Options for New Students

We have many affordable pricing options for you to try out classes as a new student at Limber Tree:

$20 for 20 Consecutive Days

$18 for a Drop-In

Please know that we do not require that you pre-purchase or pre-register before you go to the studio for your first yoga class!  You may purchase your pass right at the front desk when you arrive about 10 minutes early for class.  We do, however, as that you pre-register and pre-pay for Uplifted/Aerial Yoga and for Pole Fitness classes.

April 11, 2018

Coming hOMe: The Ease of Things Meant to Be

I have always thought of myself as a “go-getter.”  If I want something to happen, I have to make it happen, and if I don’t I will miss out on an opportunity.  I also had a belief that if I wanted something good, I would have to work really really hard to get it.  I’ve spent the first thirty-plus years of my life trying to get what I want by pushing and grasping, grasping and pushing.  

In my yoga studio, there is a Rumi quote on a sign that says, “What you seek is seeking you.” I have used this to remind myself that what I want also wants me, yet I have encountered road block after road block, which develops into frustration and desperation. After three years of owning my quaint yoga studio downtown, I decided that it was time to make more profits.  I was tired of barely being able to pay my bills every month.  So I jumped on an opportunity to lease a 4500 square foot high-end retain space. In the negotiations of the lease, another potential lessee came in and the landlord was going to choose them due to the fact that they already had a salon and spa in operation.  This make me fight even harder for the space–I HAD to have it, because my belief was that anything that is worth anything takes hard work to have. I bothered the landlord enough, and made the acquisition of the space my priority, so he finally arranged the lease signing with me.  

One year later, the doors closed.  Even though I had received a grant from our City to remodel the space, I couldn’t keep up with the financial obligations of the high monthly rent and utilities.  What I had pushed so hard to have, ended up crumbling.  Not only did I not profit, I went into a very deep hole of debt. 

It humbled me tremendously.  I moved all of my equipment and retail out of the space, sold it for pennies on the dollar, and went back to my little low-profit studio with my tail between my legs. I was crushed because my belief system had failed me–God had failed me, I thought. Depression sunk in and I scrambled to find a way to pay off my debt and my back-rent that I couldn’t afford to pay when I was in the space. 

I had gotten to the point of complete mental and monetary exhaustion and finally became complacent.  I stopped looking so far into the future and just tried to make it through the moment.  Little by little, the sun came back out and I was able to find joy in what I was doing.  I developed new programs in my little yoga studio that slowly developed profit, and I was able to pay off my debt with the landlord and chip away at my credit card debt.  

You see, at the time, I was so focused on pushing and fighting to get what I wanted. I became blind to what I needed to do, which was focus on the present moment.  My belief that all good things come from working hard forced situations to happen that caused me to take several steps backward financially.  It would be easy for me to see this scenario as a foolish or stupid mistake, yet the value of the lessons I learned are priceless.  I tend to learn the hard way.

I have now come to a place with some debt left to pay, but FAR less.  The Universe has shown me that my belief that all good things come from working hard is often false. What I have realized is that, yes, what I was seeking was seeking me.  I was seeking wisdom.  Wisdom found me through a very difficult scenario, but none-the-less, it found me.  In turn, I have found that the right scenario will find me in its own Divine timing, after the wisdom has been learned and a deeper level of understanding has been found. 

There is a process of discovering your true passion and desires.  The process takes time in this life.  I’ve learned that what I seek truly is seeking me, but will not come until I’ve learned what I need to know.  When we are ready, what we are seeking comes with ease. Roadblocks are a form of the Universe asking us to check on the true foundation of our desires. Why do we seek what we’re seeking?  That second giant location was a product of my belief that in order to succeed I had to work hard and make big profits.  But my true desires have always resounded in the yearning for peace and wisdom.  That space only gave me one of those desires, which was wisdom the hard way. Peace was nowhere to be found. 

In this current moment, I am resonating on the fact that I do have two very strong desires that have held on for many years now. They truly are seeking me as I seek them. But I don’t have to break myself to make them happen.  I can still find a place of peace and ease to bring them into manifestation.  If they are meant to be, they will happen easily and joyfully.  

The first desire that continues to show itself is the yearning to manifest yet another space to share yoga.  Where does this desire come from?  It comes primarily from the place that I believe I have something very valuable to share with others…the authenticity of the yoga practice.  The studio that I have now has done exactly this, but is in a location that many people are not willing to travel to.  This desire is coming from the guidance to reach out and expand the mission of my yoga business.  The Universe taught me that my past desire to acquire another space was rooted in money and profits, not an authentic truth that I yearn to share. Now that I have fully understood my authentic desire, the process of finding and opening another space is coming with ease.  The landlord is easy to work with and the process is almost happening by itself.  

The second desire that is always present is the yearning to live in the country and to be surrounded by nature.  I know this comes from my deepest desires to grow roots of peace in my home.  I didn’t have a lot of peace or foundation in my home growing up.  As I move from day to day, this desire has manifested into a passion for nature and for animals.  While I have been looking at properties, I do not push or force, even though I recognize that my ego wants to.  I allow the amazing abundance that the Universe yearns to give me to manifest. I recognize roadblocks and I understand how the Universe guides me with ease to what is meant to come to me.  I have always heard of the concept that things that are meant to be will feel like I’m coming home.  I never knew what this meant because I didn’t have a physical concept of what home felt like.  

Coming home is the knowing and understanding that I am guided and co-creating with what created me. It’s a place of complete trust, without the need to force, fight, or push.  It’s a place of ease and joy. 

December 5, 2017

Connecting with Nature by Sally Keys

Contributed by Sally Keys

Feel Your Best, Be Your Best

Our mind, body, and spirit are connected in a way that science has not been able to understand or pinpoint. Yet there’s growing evidence that the more spiritual you are, regardless of being religious or not, the healthier and more satisfied you become with your life. Spirituality can be defined as your attempt at finding peace, meaning, and a sense of purpose, hope and comfort in your life. The Yamas and Niyamas as ethical guides offer a way to reawaken spirituality. Additionally, research has found that the positive feelings you gain from your yoga practices lead to a stronger, happier and more confident you. And while some people find spirituality in arts, music, and religion, others experience it in seeking an intimate connection with nature.

Spirituality gets us closer to nature

We are constantly torn between science’s objective analysis and spirituality’s subjective understanding. In the past, a person’s whole outlook of the world was complemented by both his knowledge and his beliefs and spiritual practices. Trying to get back to that harmony and balance is one of yoga’s main goals. To create an intimate relationship with the environment and connect with nature’s inherent equilibrium. By tapping into the vast symmetry of the universe we become more attuned with the peacefulness within us.

Tuning in to the natural world

Humans are inclined to gravitate toward spirituality and natural elements. Receiving flowers makes us happy not only because they come from a person we care about, but also because they remind us of the notion of growth as flowers later morph into fruit and produce seeds. E.O Wilson, a researcher and naturalist, noted that we have a predisposition to preserve and enjoy nature. He asserted that those of us who embrace that nature-loving tendency will have less mental health issues later on in life. Exploring and investigating nature fills us with a sense of wonder and belonging that is both empowering and healing.  

Re-awaken your spirituality

Getting in touch with your inner-self has nothing to do with beliefs or certain practices. Yet the more you advance in your yoga practice, the more spiritual being you become. You can find meaning in life by focusing on the self. As you embrace yoga in search of your inner strength, you’ll find that dependency on external sources like food, alcohol, drugs and unhealthy relationships diminishes. This allows your true, happy self to emerge unblemished. Likewise, addressing your emotions and adopting an active lifestyle will help you open up to people and experiences and go about life with a calmer and more centered mind.

With yoga you direct your attention to a specific focus which awakens and nourishes your spirituality. Spiritual strength is an important weapon in getting over hardships. No matter what life throws at you, the more spiritual you will find a way to overcome it, bounce back and carry on with your purposeful life.

November 15, 2017

This is What Being a Tight A** Will Get You! Release the glutes!

I first learned to practice yoga from a very amazing and beautiful soul.  She was soft and calm and taught me how to learn to love my self a little more every time I went to her class.  She also taught me how to become aware of my body as I moved through beautiful flowing sequences. Without even specifically saying certain cues, I learned some of the necessities of a safe and accurate pose…through feelings and sensations in my body.

There was always one problem in my practice, however, and that was that I felt a sharp sensation in my lower back every time I went through my favorite sequence, the vinyasa, that involved upward dog.  And upward dog was my favorite part.  I loved the heart opener and the strength I gained through my shoulders.  But I didn’t love the lower back sensation that was becoming a problem beyond discomfort.

I had suffered from lower back pain for many years and the reason I found the physical practice of yoga was because of sciatica. I often blamed the lower back pain on my larger chest.  Through yoga I was able to relieve the sharp nerve pain by strengthening my lower back, but still experienced lower back pain. Throughout several years of practicing and teaching, I finally have realized why.

I wish I could remember the first person who suggested the release of my glutes on most yoga poses.  No squeezing the butt during upward dog, cobra, or back bends??!!  I thought for quite some time that squeezing the glutes during these poses “protected” my spine.

What I now know is that the rotation of the pelvis, along with releasing the glutes, is absolute KEY in any pose involving a back bend or extension. Squeezing the butt can actually cause problems with compression of the lumbar spine, which is often why individuals will often feel pain in those poses.  Instead of clenching or squeezing, awareness of the actual action of tilting the pelvis back and lengthening through the tailbone toward the heels helped me eradicate the pain and create relief!

This is also applicable to many standing poses and positions.  Warrior 1 is a classic pose of low back compression issues. While clenching the cheeks may not be as common of a pattern in this pose, the release of the pelvic muscles causes the pelvis to excessively tilt forward and compress the vertebrae.  This often happens because the back heal is down in Warrior I, which means that the lower back has to work extra hard to bring the pelvis toward square. This causes the left hip to disengage and pull down and back, leading to an excessive forward tilt of the pelvis. The action of “lengthening the tailbone toward the floor” (tilting the pelvis slightly back, but not too much to clench or tuck) is extremely helpful in the neutralization and stabilization of the spine in addition to strengthening the abdominals.

In standing back bend, it is classic practice to squeeze the glutes, but the same principle applies. Try releasing the glutes and creating space in the lower back by drawing your tailbone toward your heals! You may notice a slight release in the spine and an engagement of the lower core.  Add in a pelvic floor engagement on an exhale and you’re really onto something! 😉

And in poses like cobra and wheel, allow the butt to relax so that the core can do the heavy lifting!

If you’ve made it this far through the yoga explanation, congratulations.  It’s important that I mention that this applies to many of your normal actions and postures in your everyday moments.  Notice the positioning of your pelvis when you sit or stand.  Often, when we aren’t mindful, we will allow the pelvis to tilt in one direction or the other, causing long-term compression and damage to the spine.  Releasing the glutes, and drawing the tailbone toward the floor will more than likely create the relief you yearn for if you suffer from lower back pain.

Plus, as I always say in my classes, “we have enough tight a**es in this world.  We all need to loosen up a little!”

For more information and insight, click here:  https://yogainternational.com/article/view/which-way-should-you-tilt-your-pelvis-in-backbends-and-forward-folds/?utm_campaign=S8%20-%20Specific%20Drip%208%20-%20Yoga%20Classes&utm_source=hs_automation&utm_medium=email&utm_content=53418823&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–0BB2QD4eqZmoKaMTrPTJ0tFa0h8l3xbcogv_NTogHITkEPDYtw4PymTbZKUDNUb6EAFIhak8oYbxGbX1rxxeXn-fCms-DVS3s87CyR0mv5ML4Bzk&_hsmi=53418823

Namaste’

Photo References to help identify poses:

Upward Dog                                                          Wheel

Bridge                                                                      Modified Camel

October 4, 2017

Thoughts on the Vegas Shooting: Our Yoga Practice Is More Important Than Ever

The recent Vegas shooting has been on mind my mind constantly since it happened.  While I have seen a lot of tragedy in my short 33 years, this one hits particularly close to home.  As I scrolled through the photos of the innocent people that were lost that day, tears streamed down my face.  Life is so fragile.  Mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, friends, and lovers were lost that day.

We are all looking for answers and reasons as to why this happened.  We go through the process of despair, anger, confusion, and then we want to blame it on something because there must be a motive or a reason.  We search for answers because we know that the people in our lives would never even think of committing such a heinous act.

While I don’t have the answers, I know with certainty that the elements of a true authentic yoga practice can and will heal broken hearts.  Our practice of mindful movement, breath-work, concentration, and meditation is a process of healing from the inside-out. When we integrate these practices in our lives, the intense need to have answers subsides and we can move throughout our lives peacefully with a deeper level understanding and connection to all that is.  Taking the time out of our day for ourselves in this way can heal the body, but more importantly the mind.  Our yoga practice will relieve our suffering by quieting the ego, which uses the tool of fear to control our thoughts–causing dis-ease. Coming to the quiet space within is exactly what the world needs right now so that the healing can begin.

 

For more information and insight, check out this great article: http://www.chopra.com/articles/healing-emotional-pain-with-yoga

Or, even better, Limber Tree is the perfect place to start your practice.  Check out our schedule here.

May 7, 2017

The Beauty of Yin & Yang

In all experiences, there is the Yin and the Yang. These are the two opposite, yet complementary energies that we encounter in our lives. Although we tend to perceive our experiences as good/bad, right/wrong, the qualities of these experiences are completely interdependent. It is impossible for Yin and Yang to exist separate from one another. This is shown in nature everywhere: night/day, light/dark, cold/hot, winter/summer, fall/spring. Without one, you cannot experience the other. The concept of Yin/Yang creates a wholeness that is at the true essence of our soul/spirit/human experience.

The interesting truth surrounding Yin/Yang, is that nothing is ever black and white in its essence. Take, for example, night and day. There is always a transition between the two. There is never a definite line when it suddenly becomes night or it suddenly becomes day. There is dusk and dawn. This is the same concept with seasons in that there is never a moment in time when it is suddenly winter. Life gives us a transition period. In this transition period, things can seem painful or even can bring the essence of death into our experience. Ego will use fear to dislodge us from the understanding of the true harmony and balance that are at work.

In all things, there is an element of yin in yang and yang in yin. The symbol of Yin/Yang itself represents this concept in that there is a piece of white illustrated by a dot in the yang and a piece of black illustrated by a dot in the yin. Transformation and transition between the two can easily occur because they are part of one another and cannot be independent of one another or else they simply would not exist. The beauty of this concept lies in the idea that there is a constant balancing energy between the two. The dynamic energy at work is constantly working with these energies to create harmony. This happens everywhere in nature and weather, but also in our lives.

The suffering that we experience in our lives has everything to do with not finding peace and harmony with the forces that are working to create balance in our lives. Our egos like to perceive and define situations and experiences as either bad or good, right or wrong and negates the understanding that there are balancing forces at work at all times. In order to experience the pure joy and bliss in our lives, we must know what sadness is. In order to know what feeling our best and at optimal health, we must understand and experience physical pain or illness. While experiencing some of the traumas in our lives, we can negate the rapid spiraling into depression and long-term struggle by understanding that it is simply a balancing force in action. This, my friend, is THE understanding that will bring harmony and peace into your life.

This balancing energy takes place not only on a small microscopic level and in our personal life experiences, but also in the over-riding human-soul experience that is woven together and finds us all as One.

We tend to keep ourselves busy and our lives complicated because our egos thrive in disharmony and imbalance. Our true essence lies in the harmony energies of the Yin/Yang, which provides for harmony in the small and large aspects of this human experience. The simple understanding of this concept will lead you to more peace and less struggle in your own life. Harmony is the only truth in our existence, as it is the very foundation beneath us and the very air we breath. It is at the essence of our Life Force.

A result of ignoring this simple concept of Yin/Yang in our own experiences is physical disease, mental disease and emotional traumas, which will all repeat as if in a pattern. The busy-ness we create in our lives is the root cause of our suffering because we do not slow down enough to see the root causes of our problems. Know, however, that the pattern of the Universe is one of harmony and balance. Understanding this will break you out of your struggle patterns and will release you to the peace that you seek and will help you understand your purpose.

If the Universal Law is one that is constantly balancing and harmonizing, why would this also not be the case in your own physical, mental, and spiritual body and experience? The concept of a Universal Law is one that applies to all things. The simple realization and awareness of this Law will quickly transform your life to the one that you yearn for.

In only 33 years, I have learned this in every major life experience and lessons. However, I struggled and fought through out each of these events because I did not understand the simple concept and law of the harmony and balance in the Universe. My reason for these words is to help you by sharing my own experiences and by portraying how the Yin/Yang have been at work since I was conceived. Spirit has guided me to share this with you so that you can use my experiences to understand your own. At the end of this book, I will also share the tools that I have learned in my own life to illustrate the balancing energy of the Universe through Yoga. Through movement and alignment, we can find strength in our stillness--complete balance and harmony.

May 7, 2017

Solutions for Those Pesky Wrists in Your Yoga Practice

As a yoga studio owner, I have taught thousands of yoga classes now, as a instructor of private classes, group classes, workshops, and trainings. One of the issues that I see in the majority of my students is wrist weakness and/or pain. Most of these complaints come from the overuse of the wrists at a keyboard, serving jobs and heavy tray-carrying, a previous fall, or (even worse) repeat patterning in their yoga practice.

The wrist problem often arises in our Vinyasa style class, which is my favorite style to teach. I have found that it is a great way for new students to understand some of the most basic, but also most important elements, of a practice. Vinyasa Yoga encourages breath with movement, and the breath, in my opinion, is one of the most important elements in a yoga practice. However, the foundation of Vinyasa Yoga includes our Sun Salutation sequence. This sequence includes plank, chaturanga dandasana (four limbed staff), cobra (or upward dog), and downward dog. All of these poses can cause major pain or injury in the wrists if they are not mindfully practiced. I am also a huge fan of props, so I will explain some ways to integrate props into your practice to avoid repetitive patterns that cause injuries in the wrists. When reading this, please remember that your experience may be completely different than others'. This is why I will give you several tips and solutions to ease wrist pain in your yoga practice, but it is up to you to decide what works best for you. You can discover this by....you guessed it...practicing and trying these solutions!

It's important to discuss the primary reasons that yoga can cause or perpetuate wrist pain. There are two main elements in all poses that take precedence in our practice: Foundation and Alignment. In our asana practice, our awareness begins with our foundation. This carries into our wrists in many of the poses when our hands are our foundation. People tend to misplace their foundation into certain areas of their hands when they are in poses like plank and downward dog. They place the majority of the weight on the heals of the hands, right near the wrist crease. This puts undo pressure on the small wrist joint and, over time, will cause pain. Be sure that you are distributing the weight of your body into the "balls" of the fingers and the knuckles, as well. I've even found it helpful to try "gripping" the floor with the fingertips. Mindfulness of where you are placing the weight in your hands is key.

You may also find that a thinly folded blanket can be helpful if placed underneath the heals of the hands. This tends to assist in the grounding of the forward parts of the hands and the knuckles, displacing the weight away from the wrists. However, while in plank pose, you might try "clicking back though your heals." This will increase the angle of your wrists and keep the weight from being placed directly above your wrist joints.

Also, keep in mind that your yoga mat is an important prop in your practice, as well. If you have a mat that causes you to slip, you will bear down and tense up more in the wrists to prevent your hands from sliding in poses like downward dog. It is well worth the extra money to purchase a mat that really does allow you to ground into your hands without being sticky. I recommend the Manduka eKO mat line. After trying several different brands of mat, the eKO mat is, by far, the best for creating a non-slip and non-stick foundation for your hands and feet.

Chaturanga Dandasana can be one of the main reasons that wrist problems originate or get worse for yogis. While moving through the vinyasa sequence of a sun salutation, we tend to rush through their decent from plank into cobra or upward dog. When done incorrectly, we either push our weight back too far when coming down to the floor or come too far down (to hover) altogether. Another pattern is that practitioners will lower down faster through their head and chest, causing mis-alignment in the wrists and elbows.

To solve these issues, we can easily practice Chaturanga by following one of two options. First, shift your weight slightly forward and then lower down (SLOWLY!) all the way to the floor with the elbows hugging into the ribcage. This would be directly followed by cobra pose. Or, we can lower down half-way, so that the elbows come to 90 degrees, again, hugging tightly into the sides of the torso. From here, you move slowly into Upward Dog, with the chest forward and lifted.

Additionally, I have also found it incredibly helpful to practice Chaturanga with a block under my sternum at its lowest setting. It gives me a very good measurement of how far to come down to bring my elbows at 90 degrees...and no more! Remember, when practicing this transition, you can always modify by lowering the knees to the floor. And one more tip...try to remember to pause in the actual pose itself--four-limbed staff. All to often, people tend to "dip" through the movement, which is what causes the issues in the wrist to worsen.

All-in-all, it is worth your time and effort to try these different suggestions. The distraction of sore wrists can take you away from the Bliss of your practice, which is why we come to our mat in the first place! Being mindful and finding solutions for your wrist problems so that you can continue with your practice is you showing compassion to yourself! And that is where the healing aspect of yoga begins.

In Love and Light,

Sharli

October 25, 2016

How To Love Yourself

As always, a conversation between my friend and I lead to some pretty deep stuff last night. It ended up going to the place it usually does...the concept of self-love. It seems to be quite the topic lately. We hear it about it everywhere: "Love yourself and then you can truly love others," "I love ME, I don't need anybody else," "Love yourself and stop worrying about what others think about you," and other quotes like, "Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship that you have."

All of this sounds very great if we were born into a world that didn't completely focus on ethics and morals and the judgment surrounding them. Our society is based on the concept (whether we like it or not) of original sin. From the birth of humanity, per the Bible, we were barely even around on Earth as humans, and we just sinned right away! We didn't even have a chance, and the label was slapped onto us from the start.

We are told by most religions that we are born sinners, which leads to the practice of infant baptisms. These poor babies can't feed or clothe themselves, yet we are deeming them sinners and washing their sins away with a ritual of holy water and priests.

What is sin, after all? The first definition is, "An immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law." We even have some pretty intense Bible passages that address sin,
“I was sinful at birth, filled with sin from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Dummies.com even reminds us that "A common saying that helps reinforce that pride is at the root of all sin is that “I” is at the center of “sin.”"

Well, what are we to do? Where is that grey area between loving ourselves too much and remembering that we, in fact, were born as sinners and "fall short of the glory of God" while loving ourselves so that we can stop caring about what others think? After all, isn't it the judgments that have been established by society that makes us into the sinners that we are when we disobey them? Yes, we have God's law in the 10 Commandments and even the Yamas and Niyamas in Yoga, along with every other religion and tradition's guidelines, but when we think about it, have we ever really felt the vengeful wrath of God or an all-powerful being?

What is sin, after all? What about the perception of right and wrong, good and bad? Who decides? If it is an over-seeing God, and we were created sinners, per our origination story, then what the heck do we do now? How do we fix it? And, the most important question: If we don't know how to love ourselves because we are sinners and are bad, how do we even start to love others, since they are DEFINITELY sinners and are bad? How do we learn to love others if we don't have the example of loving ourselves to use as an example?

OK, let's look at the concept of the Golden Rule: Love others as you would love yourself. As we have already asked, what if you don't know how to love yourself in the first place? And, what if your 'other' loves differently than you do and has a different perception of what love is? What if your actions hurt others and it wasn't your intention? What if you misunderstood their actions or what they said as something other than loving? These are the questions that spin around in our heads over and over that we consciously ask ourselves. Furthermore, the answers to these questions that we eventually rest with get stuffed into our subconscious, which gradually leads to self hatred and unworthiness--and, even worse, resent toward others.

I do not have all of the answers to these questions, and contemplate this concept quite often, but here is the simplest method that I use when I work on loving myself in a non-arrogant way. It, hopefully, will help you and give you a good starting foundation with developing a healthy relationship with yourself: I think about how much I love my children. You can do the same for anyone in your life--your own children, your mother, your father, your spouse or significant other, your siblings, a grandparent, whomever. When you consider your love for them, sit with the feeling for a moment. Don't just think about the feeling as a thought--actually feel it in your heart center and your physical body. It is a sensation. If it is anything like the feeling I get, it is expansive, warm, and a lightness seems to fill my whole center.

Now, in this same way, think of yourself. Are you able to incorporate this same feeling of love as you think of yourself? If so, can you feel the same expansive, warm, and light feeling that you do for your loved one?

How about the concept of unconditional love? When you think of your special loved one, do you love them despite any mistake they've made or despite the fact that they are deemed a sinner? Even if they hurt you through words or actions, would you still love them? My guess is that the answers to these questions are, "YES!" So...here is the ultimate question: "Why is it so difficult for us feel the same for ourselves?"

From this question, without over-thinking, listen to the first answer the pops into your head. Identify the answer, do not attach it or label yourself with it, and then observe your physical feeling in response to it. Sit with it and physically feel it. Normally, the answer will hear will be a label you've given yourself that stems from guilt, remorse, apathy, grief, fear, anger, desire, or shame. And here we are back to our original discussion. What was the foundation for this label you've given yourself? A feeling derived from the concept of sin as defined by...whom? Do you feel this way about your loved one that you thought about earlier? Would you ever dream of thinking of them in that way? Then why, my friend, would you ever do that to your closest best friend, advocate, and supporter: Yourself?

In the end, when we sit and feel in response to a label we have created about ourselves (which can be rooted from years of negative self-hatred), we can identify it's cause and realize it no longer needs to hold power over us. Only then, can we start to love ourselves as we would love our children, our family, or our closest friends.

October 22, 2016

Energy Pie

Sharli wrote a beautiful and absolutely accurate blog post on Thursday about truly living life. It inspired me to write this one.

I have been influenced by so many amazing people in the past year to spread optimism and light wherever I go. As much dark spaces and sadness and anger and chaos we see in the world, it doesn't do any good to give into that darkness. It doesn't benefit yourself or others to sprinkle little bits of negativity like a trail. Energy is alive and multiplies. The more you spread it, the more it sticks to you and leaves residue behind you for others. Energy also has amazing strength. It will hold on to you as long and as tightly as possible. It's your job to be strong enough to push away the bad and squeeze the good. It is up to us to figure out how to give and receive the right energy in our lives. Of course, this is easier said than done.

My mother is the epitome of light and sunshine. Those dark spaces don't really exist when she is around. Every single person she speaks to instantly feels full. It took me years to notice that she was a soul that was created to make the world a better place. She would tell you that she wasn't always like this and sometimes still isn't. In fact, she would tell you that it took her entire life to build herself into the woman she is now. It took practice and effort to find that energy is powerful beyond what we know. She would tell you that it took many trips on the struggle bus that crashed and burned many times in order to find a place where she could become her best self.

One of the many lessons she taught me was to use my energy with care. She explained to me many times in various ways that the energy I have is passionate and deep and that it could take on many forms. She also told me I didn't have endless amounts of it. She called this my "energy pie" (keep in mind that I was about ten years old when this idea was introduced to me and pie was on the top of my priority list). Every morning, I would wake up with a brand new energy pie.

This pie was the best because it was ooey gooey with high impact life. It was hot out of the oven and ready to dish out to whoever and whatever I wanted. I could choose to give a slice to school and to basketball practice. I could break off a chunk of the crust to playing with my friends at recess. Maybe I would give a small bite to doing a few chores around the house before my mom got home from work. But I couldn't have two pies in a day. Once I gave all the pieces away, I couldn't ask for more. It would be gone until I woke up the next morning to receive a new pie.

The concept was simple enough to me at the time but as I grew up with the classic teen issues like teachers yelling, too much homework, friend drama, etc., I forgot all about how much energy pie I had and gave it all away to the things that I thought were important. Looking back, I think most high school girls gave their pies to the same things that I did. I would come home from school with a frown some days and I know my mom was thinking "Julia gave her energy pie to all the wrong things today". It continued into more serious issues like money, jobs, time management, college, finding out who I was... Still I gave my energy to these things that I thought mattered or, rather, the things I couldn't do much about.

I didn't take this whole "pie" thing seriously until about a year ago when I realized that all these amazing people in my life knew just where to give their pieces. I also saw those who threw their's in the garbage right when they woke up in the morning. I saw how my energy as well as other's energy influenced everything around them. Of course, everyone is different and wants to give their energy to different things, but that's half the journey. It takes practice to find balance. I don't think we ever stop learning and adapting. Life changes just as we do.

So what happens when our days don't go as planned and negativity comes lurking around every corner? What do we do when life starts to feel like a job and our pie is being given out to all the wrong people and all the wrong things? When rough circumstances start smashing into us like bricks and we have no choice but to pay attention to them, how do we portion our pie so we can get through the day without scraping the bottom of the pan?

Our energy pie is precious. Our pie shows us what is really important in life. It shows us exactly what we are passionate about and where our vigor for life is. Sure, we won't always have enough pie for the day, pumpkin or otherwise. There will be days when we run out and may have given it to the wrong things. Just remember you wake up with a fresh one every single morning. A fresh start. A new day. An opportunity to spread light and goodness wherever you go.

Go and give your energy pie to the best and most beautiful things in your life.

A special thank you to my beautiful momma and Sharli for being true inspirations in my life. I am beyond grateful to have souls like you to look up to.

With lots of love,

Julia

October 20, 2016

A Guide for Truly Living Life

You May Be a Yogi Without Realizing It!

According to the foundations of yoga introduced by Pantanjali's The Yoga Sutras, Yoga Asanas (poses) are one of eight limbs or branches of our practice. To be quite up front, the yoga asanas were not even part of yoga until Pantanjali introduced the concept, and he did not even describe the postures in his guidelines. Yoga asanas are simply a tool for us to use to find an opening within ourselves, mentally and physically, to tap into the space beyond our five senses--to find our blissful subconscious, our Spirit, our Source. The other limbs that are just as valuable and necessary to living and creating a meaningful and purposeful life, and to reduce suffering, but are so often ignored or forgotten. So why has yoga REALLY been around for thousands of years? Let's review!

  1. Moral codes (sigh...). Yes these do show up in our yoga practice, as well, and include non-harm, truthfulness, non-stealing, sexual responsibility, and non-possessiveness.
  2. Guidelines for personal behavior. These include cleanliness internally and externally, contentment, discipline, spiritual studies and growth, and devotion to love/Spirit.
  3. Postures and the mastery of the body in order to find stillness in mind and body! Ironic!
  4. Breathing techniques such as Ujjayi (Darth Vader) Breathing, Alternate Nostrile Breathing, Breath of Fire, etc)
  5. Withdrawal of senses.
  6. Concentration and focus.
  7. Meditation (there are over 25 styles!)
  8. Merging with Spirit/Divine/Source of Life

Remember, these are guidelines to help reduce the suffering in your life. It is not as Pantanjali shared them with the world so that we would be damned to some sort of hell in the after-life if we do not follow them. Furthermore, know that you are human. You will find it challenging to stay disciplined with these guidelines, and this is normal! However, I am willing to bet that you, at some point, have already integrated one or more of these methods or concepts into your life. Whether you realized it at the time or not, you were "doing" yoga! Wow, doesn't that make yoga less intimidating and more accessible? Yoga is not some activity that is unobtainable because in order to be a yogi you do not have to be an acrobat, gymnast, or even touch your toes! A good teacher, mentor, friend, or studio will help you find the right limb to start your yogic practice with and then the sky is the limit with your journey and expansion from there!

Last, but not least, enjoy the journey, the transitions, and the challenges along the way! After all, what value and reward would there be if it was a completely easy path?

I hope this message finds you in peace.

Sincerely and with Love,
Sharli