In the ninth grade, I remember the first time I moved into a yoga pose. Pretending to be meditating, I closed my eyes, crossed my legs and brought my thumbs and middle fingers to touch. I was in the school cafeteria. I had no concept of yoga except this—and I was quickly reprimanded by my concerned christian friend—that Christians can't meditate. It is against God to do such a thing … And for many years, when I heard the words mediate and/or yoga, that was the experience that came to mind.
I love the benefits of living an active lifestyle. I am not a competitive person, but I find an incredible amount of joy in finding my edge. Most of the time. But, it's not always easy to stay motivated.
There have been seasons, where training for an event was just what I needed. There have also been seasons when training for an event or setting too many expectations and goals became more stressful then helpful.
"You are not your thoughts,simply the one who listens to them." - author unknown
A sweet friend recently described the negative ones "as fiery darts meant to distract, tear us down, etc." Sometimes it seems as if as soon as you find escape them, they find your hiding place, an.
We don't have anything to hide from. The thoughts that tear us down, remind us of past mistakes, imperfect words we have spoken--those thoughts that try to convince us that we aren't good enough--aren't the truth.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul writes, "and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." We have the ability to change the playlist. Whether the thoughts are that we aren't enough, or we are full of worry; we can acknowledge the thoughts that keep us stuck. Not only do we have the power to let the thoughts go, but we can surrender and give Christ the permission to rewrite the narrative.... as often as we need Him to.
"every thought... " every time. What are you listening to today?
Even with only five minutes, I've included many options and variations. So whether you are a beginner or have been practicing yoga for a long time, this quick sequence you will teach you how to gain strength and balance to so you can press into a handstand without the help of a wall! There are no shortcuts to the things worth having. The same truth applies to handstands. To do them well, they take practice and consistency!
I am a big fan of coffee and all recipes that include pumpkin. This recipe is refined sugar-free, and full of pumpkin spice goodness.
Serves one large mug, or two small cups.
-1/2 cup almond coconut milk-3 tablespoons canned pumpkin-1 tablespoon organic, salted butter-2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup-1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice-1 cup strong brewed coffee-1 dash nutmeg-3 tablespoons frothy almond, coconut milk (optional)
Combine and heat (in a small saucepan) milk, pumpkin, butter, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Pour into a blender and blend 10 seconds. (Caution: hot liquids make my blender lid want to pop off. I always hold my lid down while blending.)
Pour blended mixture into your mug (or cups). Add the coffee. Top with the frothy coconut almond milk. Sprinkle a bit of nutmeg to the top.
Pumpkin spice lattes, a few cozy pieces added to my wardrobe, we have a series of birthdays to celebrate—ahh—some of my favorites things...
Do me a quick favor: take a few moments to think through your September calendar. As you mentally go the activities, special events, work projects and celebrations—did you make sure to include a few lines for yourself?
Most of us listen with just 25% efficiency. Chances are that even when we are not speaking or on our smart phones, we are thinking about what we will say, rather then being present and truly listening to what is being said to us. This week we will dive into some practical ways to practice how to listen, love and lead well.
Whether we are talking about raising our children; who we work or volunteer with; and/or anyone of in our sphere of influence; are we the person that we want them to intimidate? Or are we still hoping someone else is going to rise to the challenge and take on the work of making a positive difference?
Active listening and being present is a lot of work. By nature, we think of ourselves first. So putting anyone before ourselves takes mindful effort—but so is anything worth having. So how do we make this a reality when we already feel pulled in so many directions?3 practical ways:Routine. I realize that many of your schedules have to be flexible. I know my own does. So, set up a schedule with several blocks of time that will be specifically for the to-dos that have to be done for you to function. If you know that you have scheduled them into your day, it helps remove the immediate burdon of not getting some things done as quickly as you like—leaving some mind space to listen. I know that if I don't start my day off with time alone for meditating on God's Word and silence, then I will not listen to anyone else well. So, whether I end up with 2 minutes or 20 minutes, that is always in my routine. Another one for me is an empty sink before I go to bed. I know that before I lock the doors and turn off the lights, the dishes are done. So, when someone needs me to tune in and engage before then, I really work at listening to what they are saying to me.Breathe. Some days it is just hard to not try to blaze through the day. Slow your breath down and your nervous system will help with the rest. Use these moments to remind yourself of your favorite mantras or scripture verses to re-shift your focus.Expectations. When we stress ourselves out, it is because we think we are not getting what we wanted. Sometimes our short term wants or goals really aren't that important. Think long term here. Goals and intentions are great. Expectations and perspectives have the power to derail us—don't cave to the want of the moment, live the moment. I know that sounds really silly, but give it a go, you'll understand what I mean.
Learning to listen well will make ours far richer then only focusing on ourselves. I think most of us want to listen, love and lead well. I also think we tend to give up when we allow ourselves the excuse that "we just aren't wired that way" or we are too busy today, maybe tomorrow...
I also know that somedays I fail at listening. I have went through the motions, but could not truthfully tell you how the people that matter most to me really are doing. Even if they tried to tell me! When those days are over, maybe I made it through a few more items on my to-do list, but I am far less content with how I spent my time. When this happens, it is always a reminder that my short term desires are not worth living my life for, but the people God allows me to get know and share life with are.
Trail running… my first real introduction to meditation. The biggest difference being if you happen to follow a rabbit trail of thoughts—there is a really strong chance you will bite it and hit the ground.
I can’t even remember why I wanted to start running trails. However, I will never forget the miles of running on jagged rock and mud—and aide stations that have Nutella pita sandwiches and M&Ms—and the necessary focus to what was in front of your feet.
Before we dive in, two things you should know about me. I believe in creation science, the more I learn (and the longer I live); the more I do not believe evolution could be more then an idea. Maybe we will move on to that topic on another day ... But for now, the first thing you need to know about me is that I believe that God created the earth, plants, animals, fish, birds and people - in six days. Second, I do believe that we are not to live blindly. So, if I am going to teach asana (the postures of yoga), then I need to be able to discern and educate others in regards to what ideas align with my faith in Christ, and what does not. Hence, this very long post.
I've been a mom for almost seventeen years now. A few things I've learned about myself along this part of my journey.
I first learned I wasn't very patient, I have practiced patience, prayed for patience, gained some patience —and can still lose patience when television and electronics are essentials and cleaning up after one self is not.
My heart goes out to the families affected by recent events.
Racism is real. Just as real as slavery, and human and sex trafficking--modern day oppression...
I think this is a really good time to ask the question Joe (our local church pastor) asked on Sunday. “Are we living our lives to create a better life, or a better world?” From my vantage point, more people, including Americans, have been choosing the better life. Whenever we care more about ourselves then those around us—then we have been choosing selfishly.
Everyday we we make small and big decisions regarding what we believe and what we value, regarding ourselves and others. All our decisions add up and shape who we are.
I believe our nation is where it is, because as a collective, we have been choosing “us vs. them”—ourselves verses everyone else. When we value our own comforts more then what God values-the orphan, the widow, the captive, the weak and oppressed-then eventually, our actions will catch up to us. God never pushes Himself on us, but He does desire we choose His way over our own. If we choose to go our own way, then He will continue to love us—all the same—but His values and His love will not be evident because He will leave us to our own ways.
A quick gluten free recipe for muffins.
Dark Chocolate Banana Muffinsdry mixture -1 c brown rice flour -1 c tapioca flour -1/2 c coconut sugar -1 tsp. baking soda -1/4 tsp baking powder -1/4 tsp. sea salt -1/4 tsp. nutmeg -1 heaping tsp. pumpkin pie spice -dash cardamon wet mixture -1/2 c. pure maple syrup -2 eggs -1/2 coconut oil, melted -4 medium over ripened bananas-4 oz. dark chocolate, choppedPreheat oven to 350˚ F. In two mixing bowls, whisk the dry ingredients, whisk the wet ingredients. Blend together and add chocolate. Please do not over-stir. Scoop into greased muffin tins (I used coconut oil) for 20 minutes. Muffins are ready when the muffin is springy to the touch. Enjoy!
This month Pose to focus on is Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose).
This pose is used many times in most yoga classes. It is often called a resting pose, but in all honesty, it is not a resting pose. You are working to create length through your arms, spine and legs in this pose. So, I consider it more of a re-set pose. As you continue your yoga practice, this pose creates the opportunity to check in with how your body is feeling and time to reconnect with your breath. Maybe you will notice where you feel tension within your body, or feel extra strong… Below we will cover the foundation and key actions of the pose. To view on of the essential videos that cover the pose, grab your yoga mat and click here.
"Show up. Hold space. Do the work. Abandon perfection.
Flirt with your curiosity.
And for the love of the process, keep coming back..."
A Yogi quote from Lululemon
Showing up and holding space is not the same as showing up, checking it off of the to-do list, and moving on to the next item. What's the difference?
When a yoga class is coming to a conclusion, the teacher typically closes class with the term, "Namaste." Because the word is Sanskrit, and many of us have only heard it mentioned in a yoga class, and typically is offered of the bowing of ones head, it throws people. What am I bowing to exactly, or why am I saying the word Namaste?
Whenever starting something new in life, from yoga to a new job, it is easy to become frustrated with how hard or slow the process seems to move. In Jon Acuff's book, START: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters, he talks about what it takes to become someone who is exceptional at their craft—10,000 practice hours is a part of the magic equation. That is a lot of time.
In Zechariah, the Angel of the Lord is speaking to a man called Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was one of the Israelite's who lived in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. Around 538 B.C., while Cyrus was King, Zerubbabel was the appointed Governor of Judah. He was the first to lead a group back into Israel. In Zerubbabel's second year back, he built an alter to the Lord, as well as laid a new foundation for the Temple of the Lord that had been destroyed by the Babylonians.
In Zechariah 4, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in what seemed like a dream. Since everything recorded in the Bible is for a purpose, I wonder if Zerubbabel was feeling like progress was moving too slowly. Or maybe he felt like there was too much to do, and not enough qualified help to pull it off—himself included—for some reason, a conversation took place between the Angel of the Lord and Zerubbabel. And the conversation was important enough that it was recorded for us to read and study today.
Picking up something new is hard, especially when we have in mind exactly how we believe everything should fall into place. Not only do we struggle with the unfamiliarity of something new, but we also tend to battle our own insecurities.
When ever you step onto your yoga mat to practice, I invite you let go of your expectations of how you think your day and your yoga practice should look and feel. Begin each practice with leaving the rest of your life off your mat. This is a way to begin to teach your mind and heart the freedom of surrender. A small beginning, but a powerful one.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
This scripture that is often used for a lot of card signing and big event celebrations to encourage church-goers. What does it mean?
I spent the first month of 2016 in NYC for Yoga Works Teacher Training.
During Yoga Works Teacher Training (YWTT) we spent many hours reading and discussing the yoga Sutras. Many of them have similaries to scripture from the Bible, many do not. Some I think of as mindful words to help me grow in my journey with Christ, some I have just chosen to ponder, pray about, and work out what Patanjali was searching for.
God's Words are never to be added to or subtracted from. However, His Words are able to guide us in the truth when we are in need of discernment. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper then any double-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
Never be afraid to think. God have us our minds for a reason - our mind is to use! I think for so long, the typical christian has left the hard questions to clergy, and instead of truly seeking God for wisdom when hard topics and questions arise, they just turn to their leadership. It reminds me of the Israelite's and their relationship with Moses and God. God was right there, at their camp, and aside from Moses, Joshua, was the only human that was willing to go near His tent of meeting. They didn't want to trouble themselves with the matters of God. Follow His rules, but not let Him change their hearts seemed to be their motto. With that in mind...