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Reboot, y'all

I'm happy to say that I've been on my mat almost every day this year. Happy, and a little surprised too. I might have alluded to this in my post about morning yoga, but I wasn't too convinced the habit would last. But here I am, at the end of February, with what I would call my very own yoga practice. (Whaaat?) I've done a couple of things that help me stay mativated (that's a lame pun, I know). First, it feels damn good, so why stop? Since I started a daily practice, I feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally. And my work can get stressful, so it's much needed.

Second, I have a great teacher and guide. Yes, she's on Youtube, but it helps to have someone to practice with, even via the internet. If you haven't already (and you're at all interested in yoga), check out Yoga with Adriene. She's got a program out now called Reboot. You can find it here.

Lastly, I decided to supplement my home practice with a bit of studio time. I eased into it by visiting the class of an instructor I know and love, Lynn Rescigno. I got acquainted with her through an Ashtanga class a couple of years ago. She's incredibly knowledgeable, but also lots of fun. If you're in Pittsburgh and want to check out a class, she teaches at several spots around town, including Bend Yoga and BYS Yoga

As Adriene would say, "Let's get moving!"




Connection and Vulnerability

Before I posted or shared one word on this website, I was scared and full of doubt. I asked myself: Will I seem full of myself? Is what I have to say important? What will people think? What if it turns out I'm boring? I had a lot of shame, but I wanted to connect. With encouragement from my partner and some courage of my own, I posted it anyway. I won't go on about this because Brené Brown says it better than me. She leads by example, and it's only 20 minutes.



On(line) Friends and Inspiration

I've got some pretty cool friends. This post is about some of the ones with websites. Christina White is a bad ass. Seriously, this lady is strong. You can be too.

Kevin Boyle designs things and knows a lot about coffee too. And our buddy Sam is awesome.

My friend Deidre loves language. She was this prolific in high school.

Mindy wants to stick you with needles and you should let her.

Stu writes and makes music. He's also off to teach English abroad soon.

Ted Lincoln makes art and it's beautiful.

I don't actually know Neghar, but I like what she's got to say about fitness and food.

Though it may seem like it, this post isn't just about shameless friend promotion. It's about the inspiration we draw from others and our environment. Getting inspired can be therapeutic, especially when feeling lethargic and unmotivated. I mean, isn't that why people love Pinterest so much? So what if your cupcakes don't look like owls, you created something!

Who (or what) inspires you?



On Mental Health

A smart man once told me there are five key things related to improving (and maintaining) mental health:

1.      Psychotherapy that changes the way you think that leads to changes in behavior.

2.      Meditation, yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, or some kind of emotional self-regulation.

3.      Exercise – he specifically mentioned martial arts, but it's really about finding something you love so you're more likely to do it. (If you haven't tried it, boxing or kickboxing is great for relieving stress and anxiety).

4.      Medication – it usually takes trying 2-3 different kinds to get it right and staying on it for at least 6-9 months.

5.      Five or more important people in your life that you can talk to or turn to with things. Count them up and cultivate these kinds of friendships in your life.

At different times in our lives, we may need some of these more than others, such as psychotherapy or medication. And some of us may never need medication, while others may need it daily, and that's okay. Other things on this list are ideal for daily practice. No one is perfect, so don't beat yourself up if you don't fit in exercise or meditation one day. For me, the negative self-talk becomes more damaging than the thing I didn't do.

Of these five things, what are you already doing?

Today is a great day to try something new.



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On Rituals (and Vitality)

I think it’s important to have daily rituals. No, you don’t need a sacrificial goat. I’m talking about the small things you do every day to feel good. The activities that make you feel vital. Something from a Ted Talk stuck with me: “The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.” It inspired me to think more about the meaning of that word, vitality, cause it sounds pretty good. Here are some definitions I found:

1. The power to live, grow, or develop.

2. The state of being strong and active; energy.

3. The characteristic, principle, or force that distinguishes living things from nonliving things. (whoa)

I don’t know about you, but I want some of that. In the article “What Happy People Do Differently” from Psychology Today, the authors write, “Yes, being happy might be healthy – but craving happiness is a slippery slope. As well-being researchers, we don’t deny the importance of happiness – but we've also concluded that a well-lived life is more than just one in which you feel ‘up’. The good life is best construed as a matrix that includes happiness, occasional sadness, a sense of purpose, playfulness, and psychological flexibility, as well autonomy, mastery, and belonging.” So the next time you’re feeling something other than happy, maybe even something awful, think about vitality and do one small thing that makes you feel strong or energetic; even if that means just taking some deep breaths and sitting with those uncomfortable feelings for a bit. (Look for a post soon on breathing).

I didn't expect to get into depression, happiness, or vitality when I started writing about rituals. It’s amazing where a cup of coffee cherry tea can take you. That’s been my morning ritual lately. What’s yours?

p.s. Click on the links to be transported through cyberspace. Or to buy some of that damn tea I keep talking about.

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Morning Yoga

I’ve found lately that my days are much better when my mornings go well. For the past two days, I’ve gotten up early to do yoga. I know, I’m really on a roll. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never been a very good yogi. I get distracted easily. My mind wanders. I get bored. As it turns out, these are the very reasons to do yoga, not reasons to avoid it as I have in the past. Then at the end of last year, I found Yoga with Adriene. I love her approach – the practice is about “finding what feels good” and “shining light in the dark places.” It doesn’t sound as cheesy in the middle of downward dog, I promise. Thanks to Adriene, I’m more motivated to get on the mat and more focused during my practice. Heck, I’d never even thought about yoga as my practice before.

If you’re looking for a place to start, check out her 20 minute vinyasa flow or the 10 minute morning sequence, because therapy (and yoga) doesn't have to take an hour. Let me know what you think.