New Classes and Workshops for December

SYCReady.JPG

Welcome to December and to a busy holiday season. During this time of the year, it is even more important to take care of yourself and to honor the 4th Yama - Brahmacharya - by practicing moderation (not an easy feat this time of year!). To help you out, we are offering new classes and workshops this month. Read on to learn about them:

Participation Meditation.jpg

This month we welcome Tiffany to Sankulpa Yoga. She is a Reiki practitioner, and we are so excited to have her join us. Reiki is an ancient therapeutic healing practice that involves light touch. Last week, Tiffany and I led Yoga with Reiki, offering a gentle practice with restorative poses and individual Reiki throughout the class. It was wonderful, and I hope you will join us next month when we offer it again (read the blog posts or check in on the website to find out when it will be).

Beginning this Week: Most Wednesday evenings (beginning 12/5), Tiffany will offer a Reiki Recharge. She will also lead Participation Meditation most Sunday evenings (beginning 12/2). I hope you give these offerings a try. I am looking forward to both of these offerings myself.


oilsyogaclass.JPG

Also this month, we will offering Chakra Yoga with Essential Oils on Monday, December 17. This hour and a half wellness workshop will include all levels yoga to help balance each chakra along with information about each of your seven chakras and essential oil applications. After the practice, participants will create their own essential oils blend roller bottle to keep.

Mention this blog post, and also receive 15% off your Young Living Essential Oils order that day, along with free shipping.

Kids can get caught up in the holiday stress too. Heidi is offering Yogi Sprouts again this month. There are three classes left this session on Mondays at 4pm. Find out more HERE.

Self care is even more important when you are busy, and this is definitely a season full of things to do and places to go. I invite you to take a look at our December Schedule, and then sign up for something this month.

Namaste,

Lori



The Blog is Back - with Gratitude

syc1.jpeg

The last official blog post was back in the beginning of April. I’ve sent out several newsletters to subscribers since then, but I’ve missed our blog. Life has been, well…. busy! and interesting in a good way since then. I enjoyed it all, but it’s good to be back to some basics for now.

Speaking of basics, we have been exploring the Yamas of yoga in classes starting last week. The Yamas are an ancient set of societal “don’ts” that can help us gain the self-awareness to transform negative energy into a sense of peace. Last week, we worked the principle of Ahimsa (non-harming) into our practices, and this week, we’ve addressed Satya (truthfulness) in some of our classes.

In Sanskrit, “sat” means “that which exists, that which is.” Satya, in turn, means “truthfulness”—seeing and reporting things as they are rather than the way we would like them to be. In practicing the principle of Satya, the goal is to recognize the cascade of fears and other negative emotions that prompt us to twist reality. Once we have understood and processed these fears, our thoughts, speech, and actions can be realigned with the truth. The goal is to dismiss non-truths, which may attempt to flood our consciousness as well as to speak truthfully ourselves with kindness, compassion, and clarity.

This season of gratitude and thankfulness seems like a good time to look inward and to be honest with ourselves by bringing objectivity and deeper examination more openly into our lives.

Practicing balance poses is a great nod to Satya. For each pose, plant your weight through your entire standing foot and grow long in your spine as you extend your crown upward and your tailbone downward. Keep your pelvis untipped. For W3, begin to lean forward, continue to reach through your crown and from the heel of the foot you’ve raised. For Tree Pose, open one knee to the side and slip that foot up the inside of your leg. Keep your hips even with each other. Find that balance. Breathe. Accept the truth of the pose, show yourself gratitude for trying it, and move on. Satya keeps it real.

warrior3madison.jpg
treemadison.jpg

Join us for a special one-hour Black Friday Hot Yoga class this week at 8:30 am for a discounted price: $10 drop in / $11 online. More info and reg HERE. Bring your water and a towel.

Our December class and events schedule can be found HERE. Please take a look and join us for a practice or to try something new before the end of the calendar year. We have Reiki and Meditation options beginning in December. Please welcome Tiffany, our Reiki and Meditation leader! (What a great time of year for this, right?!)

Sankulpa Yoga BLACK FRIDAY SALES ARE here! Sign up button links below will be live midnight Thanksgiving night THROUGH Cyber Monday.

*Both Black Friday Sale offerings are good only through the end of 2018.*

These will also be announced on Facebook (Newsletter Subscribers are alerted first). Sign up for our Weekly(ish) Newsletter HERE.




Quite A-Peeling

peel.jpg

Whew!  March was a freakin' whirlwind, as have been the first few days of April.  I'm hoping that you were able to find peace and growth during the first quarter of 2018 (which is already over...how?!).

I'll tell you, so far, this year has been nothing short of mind boggling for me.  I sort of fell into an opportunity to own a real, live yoga center (Those of you who have practiced in my home studio on the carpet are going to find that your balance is stellar in the new space on a real yoga floor!  You will also find that the smell of dinner wafting from another part of the house and the occasional interruption by Aidan-Namaste-Where's-My-Noodles will not be missed as much as you think it will.)  In just under two short years, I feel like a little community has grown around Sankulpa Yoga.  It's been inspiring and wonderful to nurture along.  And honestly, you guys, I feel like you all have given me at least as much as I've offered you.  

I can't wait to see how our little tribe grows in our practice and in our numbers when the Sankulpa Yoga Center opens June 1.  Please, please, please offer your ideas for classes that you'd like to see along with any days or times that you desire.  I'm working my little heart out on planning and getting things in order for the new center.  There are a talented and lovely band of yogis who will be teaching classes at Sankulpa Yoga Center too....and I'm looking to bring on a few more of them over the coming weeks.  

I look forward to sharing my practice with you and continuing to grow that practice along side of you.  It is going to be great.

In the mean time, we practice on most Fridays 6:15-7:15pm at A Place to Grow in Salem Lakes.  See the Sankulpa Yoga Facebook page for more info.

Also......we have spots available for our Door County Springtime retreat.  I think it's going to be fun and wonderful.  Please check out the deets here.  

Wishing you a beautiful rest of your week and coming weekend!

Namaste,

Lori

 

Spring Tweaks

Happy Vernal Equinox.Hello Spring......png

 

Spring is here.  Spring is here?  The calendar says yes, but the Wisconsin weather says not yet.  We are in between seasons, and that always makes me feel out of sorts.  When the weather and the season don't mesh, I'm moody and scattered.  Honestly, physically, I'm challenged too.  I feel wobbly and unsure with my footing these days.  

I feel like this is a personal ungraceful transition from hibernation through winter and emerging into spring.  Really.  I feel like that cranky, lumbering bear who is crawling out of a warm hiding place and a deep sleep into the light.  (Even though the last few months have been nothing like a warm peaceful rest like that bear got to take)

Ayurveda is a sister science to yoga.  It is one of the oldest known systems for healthy living.  It involves living life in tune to nature.  Ayurveda involves rituals for healthy living.  

Moving from winter to spring is what, in Ayurvedic tradition, is called the Kapha Season.  Depending upon your unique make up, the rituals for this season vary.  However, there are a few rituals that serve us all during this early spring season of Kapha.

1.  Shift your Diet - Try to eat more dry, pungent, and light foods to cleanse the heaviness of winter.  Berries and early greens are good to incorporate.

2.  Move - Start your day with exercise (a walk, a few sun salutations, yoga, whatever).  Keep it regular and somewhat light.  This helps us lighten our mood and to feel good in our skin.

3.  Find and Stick to a Routine for Personal Health - A few Ayurvedic practices involve tongue scraping, using a neti pot, and nostril oiling each morning.  The whole routine takes about five minutes.  If these are new practices for you, they may seem odd, but they all help to eliminate lots of toxins from the body (and help a lot with seasonal allergies).  

So, if you are up for some new rituals to try, I invite you to take in a little Ayurveda.  Who knows, it might help usher you into a fresh and energizing springtime this year.


Spring Yoga Retreat in Door County:  We still have spots available!  Check it out:  HERE.

Sankulpa Yoga Center News:  It looks like the new studio space will open June 1!  If building stays on schedule, then you can look forward to reading all about the classes we will offer and the schedule about a month before the opening.  Right now, I'm assembling a group of lovely yoga instructors who are going to offer a wonderful variety of classes to all ages, levels of yoga experience, and lots of different types of practices.  I can't wait to start teaching in the new space too!  I will keep you updated.  Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm.  

Namaste,

Lori

 

 

Shape Shifting

universe-2742113_640.jpg

Ever think you had it all figured out......and then the universe threw you a curveball?  That curve can send you end over end whether it's a positive or negative......or just unexpected.... change.  It's only February, and I've gotten a few curves so far already. 

The first curve was a scary one with lots of negative potential.  In the end, after a couple weeks of uncertainty, it turned out to be fine.  For that, I am grateful.  I'm sure you have had something like that happen (probably more than once) in your life.  The good that came of it was that I was given the opportunity to  appreciate all the positive things in my life.  The other was that I had the opportunity to take stock in what is important and what is discardable.  And then, I discarded with abandon.  Life is sweet, and life is full, and there's only so much space within each person to have room for what is important.  The rest must either go into the recycling or go into storage for later retrieval.

The second curve was realizing how much I loved hosting a yoga retreat.  I knew I'd enjoy it, but it felt even better than I'd anticipated.  Our Sankulpa Yoga Retreat for Renewal at The Abbey was such a wonderful weekend.  I can't wait to do more of retreats here, there, and everywhere.  (Here's all about the spring retreat.)

I feel like being open to accepting a shift in our view of ourselves and accepting a deviation from our plans when the universe offers something unexpected can be refreshing and exciting.  I have thought I'd figured out who I was a few times in my adult life, and it seems that every time I do, the winds of change start blowing.  That can feel unsettling.  But, I've found that if I just feel the breeze without flinching or trying to figure out what it all means, sometimes a beautiful shift is the result.  I wish the same for you.

The third curve?  Well. that's a surprise that is coming this spring.  I am having a hard time keeping this one under wraps, but some things deserve a big reveal.  Stay tuned.

 

Wishing you a beautiful week ahead.

 

Namaste, 

Lori

 

image, courtesy pixabay.com

 

 

Empowered

earth-1207231_1280.jpg

Wow, there's a lot of bad shit going on everywhere.  Am I right?  That is NOT a very ZEN statement, and I apologize.  But don't worry; I'm getting there.  

For all of you who feel beaten down, tired of the headlines, weary of avoiding people who have vehemently opposing views, and just plain tired of the discord, I feel you.

But....(here's the ZEN part!).....if it weren't for all the bad shit, we wouldn't:

1.  Look harder for the GOOD SHIT,

2.  Dig down deep inside ourselves to think long and hard about who we are and what we believe,

3.  Take the time to sift through what really matters and let some of the other stuff drift on off into the universe.

WHAT???!!!!  You haven't tried #3?  That's the key to everything.  To Everything!  And here is where I invite you to try it.  I'm not suggesting that you let go of things that are necessary.  What I'm suggesting is to say NO when you have reached your limit (or even better, slightly before you reach your limit).  Yes, there is great need for everyone to jump in and do his/her/their part to help in the community, but YOU are not responsible for all of it.  AND....YOU are not to feel guilty for not doing more, if you are doing something of value.  Let that guilt drift on off into the universe too.

Be kind to yourself.  Do your part, and feel how it makes the world around you slightly kinder, slightly less needy, slightly more healed.  If everyone does a little bit, that goes a long way.  And.... finding a way to put a little yoga into your life can only help.

Namaste,
Lori

 

image courtesy pixabay.com

Peaceful Feelings

This past week, the theme of my yoga classes was "Santosha."  It refers to the Niyama that encourages us to find contentment in our current state.  Through santosha, we are taught to find peace in acceptance and to swim with the current.  Santosha has been a topic on this blog before, and I find myself returning to it at certain times throughout the year, such as at its end, its beginning, nearing a sad anniversary or - as it so happens -  all three of those times converging at once.

rileysnowyhike.JPG

I don't think santosha extends to not changing the things we can and should change in our lives (ex:  being content with an unhealthy relationship instead of freeing oneself or something similarly life diminishing).  However, it does make me take a closer look at what I have in my life that is cause for happiness.  It also helps me to find some comfort amidst the discomfort (my legs are achey, but I had a good run yesterday, for example).

While teaching preschool yoga at A Place to Grow in Salem during the week, our class theme was a preschooler-friendly take on Santosha:  Peaceful Feelings.  During the centering portion at the start of class, I asked the 3- and 4-year olds what made them feel peaceful.  When I didn't get a response, I asked instead what they could touch that made them feel peaceful or safe.  One little girl immediately answered, "Petting my puppy."  Yes!  So soft and warm and comforting, that feeling of petting a puppy or a grown dog (or cat) as it rests in your lap.  In that moment, I realized that they could totally grasp the meaning of Santosha and that I - thanks to a child - had another option for finding my own peace and contentment.

How will you come to your Santosha at the start of this brand new year?

Peace to you, my friends.

Lori

Winter Solstice

snow-834111_640.jpg

This Thursday morning at around 10:30, the Winter Solstice arrives.  I'm pretty stoked, too.  What's the big deal, you might ask?

The Winter Solstice is symbolic of a "return to light."  This is the day that is the shortest and darkest of the year.  It is a day to go inward.  Reflect on the past year and take a good look at ourselves.  I'm not talking about being critical.  What I mean is to be present and ask yourself if you are being good to yourself.  Are you hanging on to things that make you feel stress or sadness?  Are you able to let go of these things and enter into a lightness of heart and spirit?  

After our shortest day of light, the days get progressively longer, little by little as we move toward a season of renewal:  Springtime.  Not to say we want to chase away the winter with all its ability to bring us together for warmth and rest due to the weather, but we look at this season as one of cocooning, of drawing in for heart, hearth, and home.  The darkness isn't negative, either, but just offers a quieter space for growth.  Restore and renew for the lightness to come as the earth begins to wake up and also renew.   

Honestly, there is so much opportunity for metaphor here, that it really is almost too much for my former English teacher self to bear!  

But, please make this Winter Solstice YOURS.  There are so many ways to welcome that day of quiet dark before the light in your own life.  Journal, wear your coziest sweater, burn a yule log, take a meditative walk, cook come comfort food.  Whatever.  All I suggest is that you honor the day and show yourself some love.

Namaste,

Lori

Noteworthy: 

Winter Solstice Week Sale for our Sankulpa Yoga Retreat for Renewal at The Abbey Resort.  Learn more HERE.

Sankulpa Yoga gear is on SALE.

 

Image courtesy pixabay.com

 

 

Rituals

diwali-2890605_640.jpg

If you celebrate any of the upcoming holidays during this time of year, then you are familiar with rituals.  Some of my family's rituals include decorating the Christmas tree, watching certain classic holiday movies, taking in a candlelit church service, and planning a stay-at-home Christmas Eve homemade pizza making night.  These are just some of the things we do.  Other rituals are more personal and introspective.  As the end of the year draws nearer, most of us take a look back over the calendar year.  We might tally our high points and not-so-great times, decide what we've learned over the past year.  Maybe we even make plans on how to translate this year's lessons into next year's living.  

Some rituals that we keep don't serve us well.  Everyone has them.  Mine is to worry about.....well, everything. It's not a constant ritual, but it is a frequent visitor.  It's the ritual that helped me to commit to a consistent yoga practice, a mindfulness reminder, and using essential oils.  All of that has really helped me.  This time of year is when lots of those unhealthy rituals of stress creep in.  All the more reason then to replace them with habits that provide a balm for our nerves.

We can't stop and hide from the busyness and bustle of the year holidays, nor would we probably want to if we can instead find a way to enjoy these times more.

I invite you to find a yoga class - in person class at an area studio** or to even practice at home with a yoga video***.  Use those calming breath techniques we've discussed at this blog.  Dab some lavender over your heart space or diffuse it or another calming oil in your home or office.  Have a cup of tea without rushing out the door with it cooling on the counter.  Whatever it takes to help you find that peaceful space that resides within you....you deserve to feel better.

Namaste,   Lori


I've got some fun offers going on with the Sankulpa Yoga Retreat for Renewal.  One of them involves my favorite yoga supplies company, Clever Yoga.  Check them out on the website and on the Sankulpa Yoga Facebook page.  I'd love for you to join us!  Please reach out if you have questions.  Spaces are filling up, so sooner is better than later.


**Yoga Studios that I Love:  The Yoga Effect in Grayslake, IL  -  Trillium Yoga in Antioch, IL  -  Wildroots in Salem, WI  -  and of course....  Sankulpa Yoga

***Online Yoga Teachers with whom I practice:  Yoga with Adriene, Yoga by Candace, JBrown

Image courtesy pixabay.com

Balance

This week marked my very first speaking engagement at a conference as a yoga professional.  I had the pleasure of engaging a group of over 100 parents, caregivers, teachers, and health professionals at the Children Come First Conference put on by Wisconsin Family Ties in Wisconsin Dells.  The topic of my presentation was Mindfulness and Yoga geared toward helping kids (and those who love them) cultivate mindfulness as a tool for confidence, lessening stress, minimizing anxiety, finding patience, and nurturing peace.  Let me tell you this:  what a wonderful group (and a bunch of you signed up to follow this blog, so Hey Everyone!).  

During the drive home after my workshop session, I thought a lot about balance.  The people who attended my session are juggling a lot.  So are all of you.  We are told to put on our own air masks before we help the person next to us, but let's be honest.  You don't do that, and either do I.  The craziest part about that is we know that in order to care for our family members or to be on the top of our games at work, we need to make sure we take care of ourselves.  We.  Know.  That.  But.......we don't do it consistently.  Let's start.  I'm in if you're in.

Balance

I love to do balance work in my yoga practice.  It doesn't let me lie.  If I fall out of tree pose, I know it's because my equilibrium is OFF.  Yoga makes me take a hard look in the mirror of self care.  I love/hate that about yoga.  

So, as the season of doing-everything-for-everyone-else-and-wearing-yourself-down arrives, join me in taking balance checks for your mental, spiritual, and physical well-being.  My family was inspired on a trip to the UW-Madison campus to photograph the poses for this post.  

Tree Pose

treemadison.jpg

Grounding and Liberating (Grow your roots by making your foundation strong with your standing foot.  Liberate yourself by extending through your crown and growing your branches.)

 

Plank

plankmadison.jpg

Your core is strong.  Bring your shoulders back and shoulder blades toward each other to keep your shoulders safe.  Look forward and breath.  If you choose, challenge yourself to send your elbows straight back and close to your body as you lower to within an inch or two of the ground.  

Headstand/Standing Split/ Handstand

headstandmadison.jpg

The power is in your hands.  Place your weight there.  On all three, reach through your legs and feet.  More weight is in your hands than your head.  In the tripod pictured above, pull elbows toward each other.

Arm Balance

crowmadison.jpg

Be a little crazy and try a crow or a baby grasshopper.  The worst that can happen is that you won't be able to do it this time.  The best thing is that you will surprise yourself.

Warrior 3

warrior3madison.jpg

Lift through that core and press through the foundation foot.  Play with your arm placement and feel the strength.  You are a warrior!  (One of my all time favorite poses)

 

Speaking of balance, please consider joining me for Sankulpa Yoga's very first weekend retreat.  The theme is Renewal....and that's all about finding balance.  It is going to be a wonderful weekend with lots of yoga, an iconic setting, awesome spa opportunities, delicious food and refreshments, some hygge, relaxation by the fire, excursions, whatever you want to do.  Read more HERE. 

Skating_rink with bonfire.jpg

Peace and Light,

Lori

The Big Chill

It happened again.  The warm weather has ended, and cold is creeping in for the season.  If you are a winter person, then this is outstanding news for you!  If you are more of a summer person, then....well.

DJCold.jpg

There is something we can all do to combat the effects of the cold on our bodies.  Whether young or more mature, cold weather tends to stiffen our joints.  If you take a few Yoga Breaks throughout your day, I promise that you will feel a difference and more comfort in your body.  

5 minutes total, and you are set:

Begin with a thought of gratitude toward something in your life.

Cat/Cow - Standing, table top pose, or seated works just fine.  Inhale shoulder blades toward each other, tailbone lifted, head back.  Exhale drop head and tailbone with shoulders forward and back rounded.  Repeat slowly with full breaths 5-7 times.

Forward Fold/Monkey Pose -  Exhale into a forward fold (you can stand or sit....maybe try both).  Knees can be slightly bent.  Let upper body hang heavy.  (Great way to let gravity unkink your neck).  Inhale halfway up, straightening legs, looking forward, sending shoulders back.  Repeat sequence with your breath 3-5 times.

Side Stretches - Stand tall and inhale arms straight overhead.  Exhale as you lean your upper body to one side.  Inhale back upright.  Exhale to other side.  Repeat slowly with your breath 3-5 times on each side.

Knee Hugs / Wrist Rolls / Ankle Rolls - Standing or seated, inhale to hug one knee straight in toward your chest.  If you are standing, lengthen through the opposite leg to also sneak in a hip flexor (psoas) stretch.  Take 5-7 slow breaths.  Release on an exhale and switch sides.  With your breath, take some slow wrist and ankles rolls in each direction.

Finish with a reconnecting to the thought of gratitude with which you began.


Awesomeness Coming Up With Sankulpa Yoga:

Trillium Yoga Studio Pre.png

Spaces are filling up for Sankulpa Yoga's first weekend retreat. 

This year's theme is:  Relax, Refresh, and Renew

Learn More and Register Here

retreatcoverphoto.JPG

Mindfulness and Perspective

arch.jpg

 

Coming to you from St. Louis, MO!  I'm here for a softball tournament for my daughter with the whole family (minus Riley, the golden retriever love of our lives).  The weather has been cold for softball, but it's a new city for us to explore, and we are having fun.

Mindfulness and Perspective.  These two words have had a larger than average presence in my life recently.  I've been challenged with deciding what my purpose is supposed to be and with how to deal with a kick-to-the-gut realization.  But really, all of you have dealt with things like this.....and more.  I have a friend who is finishing chemotherapy for breast cancer this month.  She's a warrior.  Talk about mindfulness and perspective, right?  Send her some love and positive vibes, please.

Mindfulness allows us to "live in the moment" and to be present.  Perspective encourages us to take a look at where we are and to be honest about what we need to do with our circumstances in that moment.  Not easy.  And truly, everything is relative.  We can't discount our own sadness, fear, anxiety, worry because someone else might be suffering in a different way that we consider to be "more".  We need to be ok with acknowledging the shit we are wading through.  No wallowing.   Just accepting so that we can wade through to the other side and move on to better things.  

So, be kind to yourself as the days get shorter.  Be calm when the tides get rough.  Be sympathetic to yourself and to others around you,  We are all wading through something, and we can find unity through that at the very least.

I have a couple of lovely opportunities coming up to help you to be mindful, find perspective and be good to yourself.  Sign up if one (or both) sound right for you:

I'm teaching an Aromatherapy and Yoga workshop at Trillium Yoga in Antioch on November 11.  Read more about it and sign up here .  I think you might love it.

Also, I'm leading my very first yoga retreat.  It's Sankulpa's Yoga for Renewal Retreat, and I'm holding it at The Abbey on Lake Geneva during the first weekend of February.  Please join me.  I promise to make it the yoga retreat that you need in order to Relax, Refresh, and Renew.  Register here.  Contact me if you have any questions.  I would love to have you attend.  

Please find the small moments for gratitude, pleasure, and peace this week.  You deserve it, and this earth benefits from you being kind to yourself.

Namaste,  Lori

Promises

"She was an American girl, raised on promises........."

pinky-swear-329329_1920.jpg

And so the song goes.  (RIP, Tom Petty)

Do you feel like you were raised on promises?  Ideas of what your life should be, could be, would be....if only?  If you were, what are the promises you were raised upon during your formative years?  And, most importantly, where did these promises come from?

If anyone other than you made promises about how your life would ultimately turn out, then your disappointment in the lack of fruition can only be blamed on one person.  Sorry, but yes, that person is you.

Make promises to yourself.  Keep them.  If you seek a healthier version of yourself, then make a plan and stick to it.  If you desire a way out of your job, then train or apply or think outside the box.  If there is a relationship in your life that is unhealthy, then sit down with that person to fix it or get the hell out of there.  Am I oversimplifying?  Sure.  But, your life is your one shot to do what you need to or want to do on this earth.  Do not squander it.  If this last couple of years has taught me anything, it's to value your people, take the leap, speak your mind, and dance when you are presented with the opportunity.  

Just promise me one one thing.....that you will keep a promise to yourself that counts.


 

Please join me for our first Yoga for Renewal Retreat.  It'll be great!  I honestly cannot wait to share this weekend retreat with you.  And if you are an educator, you can sign on for the one credit companion course too.  Contact me with any questions.  :)  And have a beautiful week.

 

 

October is Here - Do you have 5 Minutes to Spare?

I love October in Wisconsin.  The weather, the landscape, the flavors, the sweaters to wear....sigh.  I.  Love.  It. 

October is the beginning of the cozy seasons - autumn and winter.  While I love sunny and warm, crisp and chilly is pretty wonderful too.

And here's something to think about this month........

Autumn Yoga Wisdon.png

If you are reading this blog, you must be at least a little bit interested in yoga.  Lots of people tell me that they want to begin a yoga practice, but they are busy, not flexible, old, tired, uncoordinated, self conscious, overweight, and the list goes on.  The thing is, bringing yoga into your life is possible in spite of any of those excuses and more.  And when I say the word "excuses," I say it with no judgment.  

You can start your practice this week (today!) with five minutes of yoga. 

Begin by sitting in comfortable stillness while you breathe through your nose with even and slow inhales and exhales.  Focus on just paying attention to your breath.  When other thoughts find there way in, gently dismiss them.  (1-3 minutes)

Move on to the next part of this 5-minute practice.  While seated, inhale and reach up.  Exhale and float your hands down to your sides.  Repeat slowly 5-10 times.

Now stand in Mountain Pose and begin the following flow:  Inhale to upward facing salute (arms extended overhead and looking up). Exhale to forward fold. Inhale to unfolding halfway. Exhale to forward fold.  Inhale to upward facing salute, just as at the beginning of this flow and repeat the whole thing 3-5 times.  Move slowly and with your breath.  After your last upward facing salute, exhale hands in anjali mudra (prayer pose with hands near heart) in front of you.  

And here are some photos to guide you from the Sankulpa Yoga archives.

 Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose

 Forward Fold (Modification:  Knees bent with hands on shins)

Forward Fold (Modification:  Knees bent with hands on shins)

 Unfolding halfway (hands may be on shins)

Unfolding halfway (hands may be on shins)

Let's build upon this next week.  If you want more, great!  Go for it!  However, 5 minutes every day will have a positive effect on your life.  I promise.  <3  


If you haven't yet, please, please read about Sankulpa Yoga's very first retreat.  I hope you can join me, and if not, will you please share it on social media?  I'm working to make this a first in a line of many yoga retreats designed for everyone.  Everyone:  meaning everyone.  Thank you.

Planned Spontaneity

retreatcoverphoto.JPG

Well.....hello.  We are settling into fall and getting comfortable with the change in schedule that a new season brings.  It always feels like summer will be laid back with lots of free time, doesn't it?  But that's never how it goes, and I should know better by now.  I'm grateful for the busyness that is summer for us, because it's a lot of fun stuff.  When autumn does roll around, however, I am usually ready for a schedule that is more defined.

Yoga is similar for me.  There's something to be said for coming to my mat and just letting the practice develop by "going with the flow" rather than planning sequences.  That is difficult for me.  I struggle with just letting things happen on the mat.  If I begin with a goal, it goes better for me.  For example, if I know that I'm going to focus on hips, then I can flow better.  I've got to have a plan in my spontaneity, and I'm literally rolling my eyes at myself as I write this, but it's true.  And, honestly, it's just fine that that's what I need for my practice to flow and to keep growing it.

When I do judge the way I approach my practice, that makes it harder to get to my mat and to stay there.  The I should be's and the Why don't I's can undermine our best efforts.  So, with my first post after a month and a half of getting lost in the rhythm of life (and liking it), I invite you to try with me to find your own flow, accept it for whatever it is, and.............just see where it takes you........you might find yourself on a wonderful new path.

And now, announced here first for my wonderful Sankulpa Yoga blog subscribers and readers.......

Yoga for Renewal Retreat

The Abbey Resort and Avani Spa

February 2-4, 2018

You guys!  It's my first retreat, and you are invited.  I will officially announce it later this week, but it's announced here first and open to anyone 21 or older, no matter your yoga experience (and definitely keep reading if you are an educator):

Included in Registration:  6 ALL Levels classes of different platforms (essential oils, restorative, vinyasa, vin, etc), 2 nights' lodging at the Abbey Resort, Friday dinner, Saturday/Sunday breakfasts, 15% off spa appointments on 2/2 or 2/4, and a special welcome bag of gifts.

If you are an educator looking to renew your license, you can also sign up for the Companion Course for this retreat through which you can earn a professional development graduate credit from Carthage College

Also Available for You to Do: take the free shuttle to Lake Geneva to shop or to attend their Winterfest events, sit by the bonfire at the Abbey (and maybe enjoy a s'more), book a spa service, hang out at the Avani Spa Atrium and Pool (adults only), hike, gather for evening social time, attend a dinner off-site with the group, and whatever else you'd like to do.  Too busy sounding?  Snuggle up by the fire with your book, sip a coffee on your own or wth a friend, take a quiet winter walk, heck..take a nap if you want to do that!  The point is, this weekend is for you to Relax, Restore, and Renew.

Registration Fee Information:

Double Occupancy $425 / Single Occupancy $550 - Add on the Companion Course for $100 (plus $10 admissions fee if you have never before taken a course from Carthage College)

Renewing opportunities for all.  :)  

Registration will open Monday, September 18.  Space is limited. 

If you register with payment in full and share knowledge of this retreat with a friend who also ends up registering and paying in full, you will receive a referral gift......and it's a good one! 

Please contact me directly or comment below with any questions you have.  (I hope you can join me!)

Road Trip!

We will be in Tennessee when this blog post reaches you.  Taking a road trip is always fun, and this one should be no different.  Everyone piles into the mini van (dog too), and we head out with snacks, knitting (me), and a sense of adventure for the whole family.  Solo road trips are fun too, especially if you are heading toward a fun event or fun people.

The only problem with this is..........figuring out how to maintain your yoga practice while on the road.  It is a challenge.  If flying instead of driving, taking a travel mat that folds into a suitcase is helpful.  Otherwise, lots of hotels have mats that guests can borrow or rent.

Then it's doing the yoga practice itself.  It would be fun to take a yoga class in a city you are visiting at a studio (and I'll let you know if I try that...would love to).  Otherwise, just free flow it.  Stretch and flow.  It might feel silly at first, but I'll bet it works out just fine.  The other option is to find a YouTube class that you like.  There are literally zillions.  It isn't the same as attending a class in person with a real live yoga instructor (like moi), but it has its advantages.  Two of my favorites on YouTube are Yoga with Adriene and Yoga by Candace.  If you try one of them, I'd love to know what you think.

I'll be thinking about you while I'm getting my yoga on in Tennessee and hoping that you are finding your practice too while I'm gone.

Peace,

Lori

 

A Little Yoga Sequence for Hip Comfort

There's a lot going on in the summertime.  Driving long distances for vacations, walks on sandy beaches, sitting on bleachers to watch games or concerts, and taking part in sports.  All of this stuff creates hip stress, if we don't give our hips some loving attention.  

Think about it.  Sitting keeps our hip flexors in the same position for an extended period of time.  Beach action means walking with a different gait on a somewhat unstable surface.  And becoming golfers and softball players or what have you after a more sedentary season of winter can surprise our hips into balking at all the sudden activity.

There's a way to do all these summertime grooving things, though.  Just stretch properly and build some strength.  And I'm talking to everyone.  If any of you have been following me long enough, you know I'm a hip flexor / psoas nerd.  This large muscle group can help us to feel comfort and peace or can cause us pain, stress, and anxiety.  A healthy psoas can be your best friend, and it's one of the secrets to a more easeful lifestyle.

Below is a little sequence with modifications for everyone interested in finding more comfort in their hip flexors.  I hope you enjoy.

Supine Psoas St-re-tchchchch - Hug in one knee and lengthen the other leg.  Flex both feet.  Relax your shoulders.  Now, reach the extended leg's foot toward an imaginary wall.  With each exhale, reach that leg a little longer.  This helps to gently stretch the psoas muscle on that side.  After 7-10 breaths here, inhale knees toward chest and exhale the opposite leg long to stretch the other side.

 

Gentle Sacrum Massage - Hug it in and make circles with your breath on the flat part of your low back, the sacrum.

Table Walk to Reverse Vinyasa - Come to tabletop pose and then walk your knees back.  Loop your shoulders so that your shoulder blades come toward each other on your back.  Send your elbows straight back as you exhale and lower your hips to the mat, then your belly, and then your heart space.  Once your forehead kisses the mat, inhale and reverse the flow back to table top.  Then exhale your hips back to balasana, child's pose.  Breath 7-10 breaths here.  (Uncomfortable?  Settle a blanket or cushion between your bum and your heels.)

Uttanasana / Ardha Uttansana Flow - My go to after sitting, before and after running, and when I just feel uncomfortable in general.  Give loving attention to the back of your hip flexors in order to ease the front. It's all connected....  So, exhale into forward fold (uttanasana).  Bend into your knees a bit, and send your belly toward your thighs.  Let your hands rest on the mat or your feet or a block (no dangling!) and let your head hang loose.  Now, inhale to send your thigh bones back and your hips.  Straighten into the legs and lift your upper body halfway.  Send your shoulders away from your ears and look forward.  Again, no dangling hands.  Support them onto your shins, thighs, or the floor.  Inhale and exhale as you  slow transition back and forth between these two standing poses.

Anjaneyasana -  From forward fold, step the left foot back and lower that knee to the mat.  Loop shoulders up and back and sent heart forward.  Exhale hips forward.  Play a bit here to see where the stretch feels right, but be gentle.  Before stepping forward to switch sides, take the next pose below.

Utthan Pristhasana - Taking a modified version of lizard pose, send the left hand to the inside of the left foot.  Walk the left foot toward the edge of the mat.  Stay here or lift your back knee off the mat.  Loop you shoulders back so that your heart leads the way.  Take 7-10 breaths here, or lower forearms to the floor (or a block) to deepen the stretch.  

Exhale knee back to the mat.  Walk left foot back in a bit, and move the left hand to the outside of the left foot. Inhale and step the back foot up to meet its mate.  Exhale to forward fold.  Inhale and root to rise (press feet into the mat) as you come to upward facing solute.  Exhale back to forward fold and take the other side for Anjaneyasana and Utthan Pristhasana.

Constructive Rest Pose - After second side, settle onto your back for a savasana variation.  This one is called CRP (pretty technical, right?)  It stands for Constructive Rest Pose.  Settle the sacrum onto the floor.  Place your feet parallel and slightly wider than your hips.  Send your knees straight up to the sky.  Nestle your shoulder blades beneath you and place your hands on your belly.  Breathe and rest for 5 minutes (or as long as you are able)

Wishing you peace and happy hips.

Namaste!

 

 

Hygge

Close your eyes and picture your perfect setting for peace, comfort, coziness, and ease.  The scene varies from person to person.  For many of us, the scenario includes people we love.  There might be warmth from the sun or a fireplace.  Certain food or drink might be involved.  

The Danes have this scenario down to a science.  They call it hygge.  Pronounced "hoo-gah",  many credit it as one of the big reasons that Denmark consistently rates among the happiest countries in the world.  I'm intrigued by the concept and am reading up on it in The Little Book of Hygge.  Its author Meik Wiking (also CEO of Copenhagen's Happiness Research Institute) refers to hygge as "the art of creating intimacy," "the absence of annoyance," and my personal favorite, "coziness of the soul."

That last one hits home for me, because it is exactly how I would describe the effects of a consistent personal yoga practice. People practice yoga for different reasons, and I practice for several reasons.  However, that coziness of the soul definition is the circumference around all of the reasons I practice.  

Yoga can make us feel more physically comfortable in our bodies.  I can sit, stand, and move with greater ease when I practice regularly.  I feel like my body is something powerful and a tool to help me accomplish my goals.

Yoga gives one a feeling of lightness.  It's not as if I walk around surrounded by rainbows and blooming flowers, but I find that regular yoga better enables me to access that little space inside where I cultivate peace and happiness during my practice whenever I need it.  I am less anxious and feel more joy with regular practice.  And funny about the lightness is that good lighting is one of the big pieces of hygge.  The Danes love their lighting and their candles.  I agree.  It's just a softer and prettier way to view the space around us.

I'm really working on maintaining a daily yoga practice.  So far, so good for the last three weeks or so.  Some days, rather than taking a yoga class (rare lately) or doing a home practice, yoga happens with my students in yoga classes.  Other days, it's a yoga-inspired running warm up.  Occasionally, I only take 5 minutes of sitting still and breathing mindfully.  It's all yoga, and it all counts toward the good stuff that yoga does for me.  

Pretty soon, a little yoga sequence will appear each week in this space with the blog.  I hope that it will bring you hygge and inspire a regular practice.  I am convinced that yoga can enrich every person's life.  I'm here to help you get started.

Peace and Light,

Lori

 

 

The Mental Game

I'm writing this from a hotel room in Naperville, Illinois with my daughter Delaney sleeping one bed over.  We are here for a softball tournament, and tomorrow holds a 5:30 a.m. wake up call.  I had planned to write about something else this week, but lately Delaney's softball and her brother Aidan's baseball experiences have led me in another direction for this blog post.

You may or may not know that in sports, the mental game is at least as important as the physical game.  The brain can be your biggest asset or your most potent adversary in sports. 

home-15646_640.jpg

 

Lately, they've both been struggling at the plate.  It happens to everyone on or off the field.  The s-l-u-m-p (we don't say the word out loud) began innocently enough with a couple bad games of striking out.  As the games of disappointing at-bats continued, other problems began to creep into both their games.  They were inside their heads with worry and stress over not hitting, and it spread like a virus to fielding.  The cause of the problem was letting the fact that they weren't hitting get to them....and fester with rumination.  It seemed that the harder they worked to correct the problem, the more it persisted.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Rome wasn't built in a day, and the s-l-u-m-p will not be corrected in one at bat for either of them.  At the advice of her coach, Delaney has been picturing positive outcomes before each at bat.  I've been walking Aidan through some guided positive visualization on the way to practices (He does this with a peanut butter sandwich in one hand sometimes.  I'm not sure if that helps or hurts the process).

The idea of visualizing positive outcomes is powerful.  I think the reason it works is because it knocks us out of the downward spiral of negative self talk......and negative language.

For example, instead of telling themselves, "Don't strike out," we encourage them each to say, "I will get a hit."   (Like I try to remember to tell myself, "I'm going to let it go," instead of, "I'm not going to get mad about that.")  Negative words bring about negative thoughts....no matter the context in which they are used.  Better to self talk in positive phrases.  

I feel like Delaney is really working on being mindful of the positives.  Aidan is going through the motions, but I'm confident he will get there.  That's the difference between being fourteen and just barely eleven years old.  They will both come out the other side of this, and Delaney is already seeing the light on the other side of it.  Hopefully, in the long run, they will be wiser for having gone through this challenge in that they realize the power of using positive thinking and self talk skills to help them out throughout their lives.  I hope I remember to do it more often too, because it works.


Update:  Last week's Try it for a Week post was a fun experiment.  I did cut way down on my scrolling on social media, but I caught myself doing it more often than I liked.  I noticed that I scrolled when I was tired.  I'm not sure what that means, other than that I am less likely to make good decisions when I'm not awake and alert.  I will continue to work on this one, because I noticed really being able to be more present.  How did your little experiment go?

Next up?  #yogaeverydamnday for 30-days.....and beyond

 

Try It for a Week

Happy Summer!  This past week saw the summer solstice and International Yoga Day.  Historically, summer solstice is seen by some as the coming of happiness.  This has to do with the seasonal coming out of darkness into the light.  I like that.  So, not only do I challenge you to do something this summer purely out of happiness, but I also challenge you to seek the happiness you crave.

One way to do this is to try new things.  What is something simple that you've wanted to try?  Reach your daily step goal?  Go to bed earlier?  Cook at home more often?  Allow yourself to dismiss minor irritations (or irritating people)?  It must be something.  

Take a look at this short TED talk below that I listened to last week.  The idea is making small changes to work toward sustainable habits.  Then, think about choosing something today that you want to commit to doing (or not doing) for the next seven days, starting today.  Maybe you try a 30 day challenge after that - or even starting with July 1.

For me, a big challenge is the ability to not get sucked into social media.  I might go onto Facebook to post a yoga class reminder.  Twenty minutes later, I'll find myself scrolling through the feed without ever having achievement my purpose of making that post.  This mindLESSness makes me irritated with myself.  It's a time suck.  I also am apt to find a comment that upsets me while I'm scrolling. 

So, in my ongoing attempt to be more mindFULL (pardon the intentional misspelling for the sake of impact, please), I commit to a "no scrolling" challenge for the next seven days.  I will have to go on social media to post for certain reasons, and there are people and groups with which I need to check in, but I will go directly to those pages on social media and not engage in mindLESS scrolling.  I'll let you know how it goes next week.  And, hey, let me know how your challenge goes too in the comments below.  If you want to share a 30 day challenge you plan to begin, I'd love to hear about it so that I can encourage you.  Who knows?  We might even start some good long term or lifelong habits this week to promote our happiness.

Please have yourself a week of kindness and peace.

Lori

 

image courtesy pixabay.com