Attitude of Gratitude

gratitudeThis week is the holiday Thanksgiving. A time that we get together with family and friends, eat a big meal, and give thanks. I have always struggled with this holiday. Why do we wait until this one “special” day, surrounded by more food than we can eat, to allow ourselves to be grateful?  As I mentioned in my post “10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now” I strive every day to have an “Attitude of Gratitude”. Every morning, as part of my daily ritual, I take the time to acknowledge and be grateful for all that I have in my life to be thankful for. I then use this “Attitude of Gratitude” throughout the day to keep myself centered. I find taking the time to be grateful, even for the small things, can be like a mini meditation.

For instance when you are stuck in traffic, and feeling anxious that you may be running late, you can take the time to center yourself by connecting to your breath, and be thankful for the car that you are driving. If you feel overwhelmed at work, connect to the breath, and be thankful that unlike so many, you actually have a job. Within every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.

Within your practice of being grateful, remember to find self gratitude. Be thankful for the body you have, and all that it can do. Be thankful for the life sustaining breath that runs through your body, be thankful for the mind that is capable of thought, creativity and expression. Be thankful for your lips that are able to speak your truth, and be thankful for the freedom to do so. Be thankful for the courage and strength within you to go out into the world and be the amazing soul that you are meant to be. Be thankful that you can achieve whatever your heart desires through persistence and perseverance.

Take the time from today and for the rest of your life to express gratitude. Not just to or for others, or for things, but to and for yourself. Let an “Attitude of Gratitude” pervade your life everyday, not just on one special day a year. As I have done, make this a part of your daily ritual. As you prepare for the day ahead of you, make a list of all things you are grateful for. Remember to include yourself on that list. Be grateful! Namaste!

Save the Knees! Just Keep Moving!

3526926_origI recently started reading “Alignment Matters: The First Five Years of Katy Says” by Katy Bowman, M.S.* Katy is a biomechanist (she basically studies the structure and function of the human body and how it moves) and the book is a collection of short essays that she wrote on her blog Katy Says. The book focuses on proper alignment of the body and how to move naturally. For someone like me, who makes their living off of conducting people through movement, it’s a wealth of information.

In a section that I recently read Katy cites a research study that basically concludes “Excessive mileage and impact forces are contributing to the increasing levels of osteoarthritis, knee surgeries and knee replacements in the United States”. Basically high activity and high impact exercises are causing damage to the joints, knee cartilage, etc. This is something I’ve always said, and which is why I prefer to move my body through gentle, low impact yet strengthening exercises like Yoga and Pilates.

I know I’ll get grief for this one, but this is one of the main reasons why I’m not a fan of high impact exercises like CrossFit. I’ve watched CrossFit videos and people doing it for years and have always just sat and shook my head. I’ve always said that they may look fit now, but what kind of damage is taking place inside the body? How will the health of their bones, joints, etc be in a few years as they begin to age? Now this recent research is proving what I’ve been saying for years. Not to mention that practically everyone I have known who has done CrossFit has had some sort of injury.

BUT, this post isn’t about CrossFit, it’s about the health of our bones, joints, etc! Katy sums this all up pretty well…”Firstly we need to keep in mind that while “movement” is a physical requirement to physiological function, “exercise” is a modern creation designed to deal with the waning health of our immobile population. Cramming a day’s worth of movement into a one or two hour long intense bout has the same physiological impact of starving yourself all day and then following it up with a 2500 calorie meal. Your body doesn’t work that way!”

Think about it! Most of us spend all day sitting at desks, sitting in cars driving in traffic, then we come home, sit at the table (MAYBE!!) and eat dinner, and then we sit on the couch vegging out on the computer or watching TV. And maybe, just maybe, for a small portion of the population, somewhere in there we squeeze out an hour or two workout. Just think about all that sitting. Your knees, hips, spine, chest, head, etc are all pretty much in the same cramped position all day. Then you go and do a quick workout where you force them to move. Is it any wonder that we have knee, hip, back and neck issues?

I agree with Katy in that we should continue to move throughout the day and in smaller increments and movements. Just keep moving! “It is much better for the health of joints (and surprise surprise, your metabolism) if you move throughout the day as opposed to all at once. The weight loss effect of exercise is the same (in fact, it’s actually easier to lose weight by getting your movement in smaller doses but more often), and your joints have the time to adapt to the loading. Imagine your knees, completely unloaded while you sit in your desk chair/car/recliner and then all of a sudden you get up and start jamming the bones into the cartilage at 3-G forces. Not very considerate”

Find ways to continue to move your body throughout the day. Greet the day with Sun Salutations, take little walking breaks throughout your day at work, take a Pilates class, walk the dog or take a walk as a family after dinner, instead of sitting on the couch watching TV, get on the floor and move. I must admit that I’m a bit of a TV junkie, but I move while watching TV. I lift light weights, do squats and lunges, or I’m on the floor doing Pilates or core work.

Just keep moving!

*Bowman M.S, Katy, “Alignment Matters: The First Five Years of Katy Says”, First Print Edition, 2013, Propriometics Press

10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now

Be-Grateful

Having an “attitude of gratitude” is something that I strive for EVERY day. In fact, it’s part of my morning ritual. I like to use the word “ritual” instead of “routine”. A “routine” is tedious and calls to mind something that has to be done, but a “ritual” feeds the body, mind and soul. So when my good friend Coach Jennie wrote her latest blog post “10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now” I knew I had to write my own post. However, I hesitated; and then Jennie gave me one of her “cathartic shoves”, so here it is.

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1. My husband – Next week will be our 13 year Manniversary. In 13 years he has been my best friend and biggest supporter. I’m very lucky to have found someone who is (secretly) as crazy as I am. He backs me with every crazy thought I have, cheering me from the sideline, celebrating my wins, and picking me up and brushing me off when I fall. He’s the Yang to my Yin. We balance each other out in so many different ways. Sometimes it’s like we share a brain, we always fall in to sync with our thoughts and ideas for the future of our lives together. I’m very grateful for this generous, caring, handsome and intelligent man. I’m also grateful that his Disney addiction is almost as big as mine!

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2. My career – If you had told me five years ago that I would be teaching Yoga and Pilates full time I would have laughed. I’ve never been much for speaking in front of others. Even in small groups, I was silent and shared my thoughts only occasionally. I was never one for speaking out or standing up for myself. I never felt I had a voice of my own. But now, not only do I speak in front of large classes of students, but I’m there to hold a sacred space for them. I’m there to guide them to connect to their bodies and move in healthy ways. I’ve finally found my voice. In just over two years of teaching I’ve connected with some incredible students, making a positive impact on their lives and health, and I’ve watched them grow into their practice. As they have grown so have I as a teacher including the size of my classes and student following. One of my goals this year was to take my teaching out of gym settings and teach more at studios. I’ve been successful in doing so, adding four new studios to my teaching schedule. I’m so grateful that I get to teach what I love to practice, and that it is my “job”.

3. My Health – My own personal practice of Yoga and Pilates has brought me into a space of perfect love for my body.  My body may not be “perfect”, and it might never be, but for the first time in my life…I’m okay with that. I’ve struggled with some VERY unhealthy habits in relation to my body over the past 20+ years. I’m finally at a place where I am inspired to be healthy and not only that, but I’m inspired to inspire others to be healthy. I have created a deep and loving union with my body that I’m now able to constantly nourish in healthy ways.  I’m grateful for a body that is healthy, fit, and strong. I’m grateful for a body that is able to move through the activities I love: Yoga, Pilates, Running, Cycling, Dancing, etc.

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4. Meditation – My meditation practice has grown and this has been a life changing practice for me. Every meditation session that I’m able to do leaves me more connected to “god”, “the creator”, “higher consciousness” whatever you want to call it. Out of this I’ve had these amazing moments of clarity about who I am, where I am going, and how I can live my life to be in service to others. Every moment spent in meditation has helped me to detach from the ego, and learn to let go of things that are no longer serving me. I’ve found a deeper spiritual connection not only to myself but to the world around me through meditation. Meditation has given me peace, patience, love, compassion, and strength. I’m grateful for these moments of silence and stillness that allow me to connect to my true inner self.

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5. Writing – Meditation has given me some clarity on my writing as well. Ideas that were planted in my head that never came to fruition are now projects that I’m working on. I’m currently working on two yoga and spiritual related books that hopefully will be finished and published soon. I will be signing up for NaNoWriMo in November to further inspire me, and keep me on the track to finishing at least one of these two books. I’m grateful that I have an outlet, such as this blog, to share my experiences with others through my writing. I’m grateful for anyone who reads this blog (that’s YOU)!

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6. Hamlet – No, not that Hamlet! My dog Hamlet Beauregard, or Hammie as he is called. I know to some people this might sound weird, but he is one of my greatest teachers. That little dog is a great teacher of patience, love, joy and loyalty. It impossible to come home from a long hard day and not have your spirits lifted as he greets you at the door; toy in mouth and tail wagging. He is his own brand of therapy. He’s a cuddler, and nothing warms the heart more than being snuggled up with him. He is a constant reminder that you have to let go of the small stuff, and to make time to play.  I am grateful for his love and devotion every day.

7. Service – As I mentioned before, almost everything I do comes from this thought of “How can I help others?”, “How can I be of service to others?” or “How is this going to benefit those around me?”. I don’t teach Yoga and Pilates, write this blog or the upcoming books, or record videos or podcasts to be famous or anything. Everything I do comes from a place of being in service to others; from a place of sharing with others. I’m very grateful and honored to be taking part in my teacher, Jacqui Bonwell’s, upcoming Yoga Benefit for the Homebase Program. I am working on raising money and will be holding a donation based class next week to raise money for this amazing program that provides clinical care for veterans and their families to heal from the invisible wounds of war such as PTSD. Her event has raised over $36,000 for this cause over the past two years. For more information or to make a donation check out my fundraising page.

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8. Training – Okay, so this one is not happening RIGHT NOW! I thought by now I would have started or even finished with training, but it’s been pushed back a little. Hopefully, starting in January I will be continuing my Pilates education by taking a Comprehensive Pilates Training course. This will allow me to become certified to teach on all the Pilates apparatus such as the Reformer and Cadillac. Not only that, but I will be able to dig deeper into the history of Pilates and become a better and stronger teacher. 2015 is going to be all about PILATES for me. Through this training and workshops, I’m going to push myself to become the best and most well rounded Pilates teacher I can be. Stay tuned for more on this one. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to grow in this field and share this amazing form of movement with others.

Fall 29. Autumn – Every so often I think about moving back home to Florida, where I have so many friends and family. Not to mention being able to visit Disney anytime I want. But when Autumn kicks into high gear in New England, nothing is as beautiful. The landscape slowly changes colors and each day that spot you drive by looks a little different. The crispness in the air settles in, and you get to take out and wear your favorite hoody. Apple picking, fall festivals, pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING! The air is finally turned off and the windows are thrown open. In fact as I sit here writing this, the windows are open and a breeze rustles the multi hued leaves outside, as the air blows in and cools the room. This is my favorite time of the year! I’m very grateful that I get to experience this beautiful change happening all around me.

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10. Vacation (It’s all I ever wanted) – Again, this is not happening right now, but the planning and anticipation sure is. Since January, when I went to California to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon at Disneyland, I’ve been working six day weeks. The only day I ever have completely off is Sunday, and I’m usually too tired from work, and setting up for the week ahead, that I never get to really unwind and relax. My body, mind and soul is ready for a week’s worth of vacation. It will be the first time in over a year that we will be getting home to Florida. Our visit over Christmas week will include catching up with friends and family, and of course a few days at Walt Disney World. Disney is my truly our happy place, and Disney at Christmas time is just pure magic. I’m very grateful that we are able to travel when we can. And I’ll be VERY grateful for that first Fiesta Margarita at the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my “10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now”, and I challenge you to write your own! Feel free to post them in the comments, email them to me, or post them on my Facebook page. Remember to take a few minutes every day to be grateful for the things that you do have in your life at this moment.