Balance

Have you noticed that most of what I talk about relates back to the yoga mat? I see many people who want to work on their balance. They mean they want to be able to stand on one foot without falling over. What I know is that standing on one foot will lead to balance in other areas of their lives.

Our culture can be extreme. I think it comes from a desire to have control in a world that seems out of control. Marathon runners, low/no carb diets, workaholics…these are all ways we can be out of balance. The reverse is true as well. Too much screen time, couch potatoes, procrastination are at the other end. Somewhere in the middle is sweet spot.

Yoga uses the gunas to help us find balance. Rajas is the active, driven, passionate guna which is full of ego. Tamas is slower, full of chaos, anxiety, and destruction. Sattva is the harmonious guna, the one in the middle where there is balance, purity, and peace.

We need all three gunas to keep the world moving forward. Our work is to try to stay in a sattvic state more than a rajastic or tamastic state. Use rajas and tamas when needed but strive for the balance that comes from sattva.

Easier said than done, right? This is why I encourage you to come to your mat, breathe deeply, and find a comfortable, easy tree pose. Learn to hold it through any wobbles of the body or the mind. Trust that you’re learning more about balance than standing on one foot. Balance in the body will become balance in the mind and finally in every day life. Or at least most days. After all, balance is a practice too.

Namaste,

Melissahealthcoachheader2

Dig a Deeper Well

View Instagram video hereIMG_5744

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my recent video about digging a deeper well. It talked about the idea that instead of abandoning your current path you should dig in and go deeper. I felt that I couldn’t do this topic justice in 60 seconds so here’s more.

We live in a highly “disposable” world. We like instant gratification and when we’re finished with something we often toss it aside. It’s one thing to buy a bottle of water, drink it, and throw away the bottle. It’s another thing to *fill in the blank*, have difficulty with *fill in the blank*, and walk away from *fill in the blank*. Yes, *fill in the blank* could be anything – a job, a relationship, a personal change (like a diet or exercise program), a hobby.

I’ll use yoga as an example. When people first try yoga they attend class for 6 or 8 or 10 weeks. It’s going along quite well. They feel stronger or more  flexible. They breathe deeper. And then they hit a wall. The body has adjusted, the mind is clearer, people feel present. All good things, right? So why do so many people stop doing a yoga practice at this point? Because it becomes uncomfortable. This discomfort is because it’s actually changing them at a deep level and change is hard and scary. So they go off to dig another well.

The video asked you to keep digging the same well. When the practice is hard keep practicing. When you get scared take a deep breath and move forward. When you have the urge to throw it all away and learn basket-weaving instead, please remember to love yourself and push through your doubts. It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. The growth is worth the discomfort, I promise.

I’m not suggesting that you stay in a dead-end job or abusive relationship. I’m asking you to be truthful about why you don’t want to dig this well. Is it truly because there’s no water at the bottom or because you don’t believe you deserve to drink from the well.

Namaste,

Melissa

 

Love

imagesIt’s Valentine’s Day and I want to write about love. All morning I thought about love. Romantic love.Family love. Love (or attachment to?) of things, places, tastes, feelings. As I sat down to write I became overwhelmed by the depth of this topic. I’m not sure I can say anything that hasn’t been said. Which is exactly why I have to say something. Here it goes.

I think the concept of love is simple. I mean, even very young children can grasp the concept of love. Maybe the world needs to keep it simple (KISS) when it comes to love.

Just love.

Everyone.

All the time.

Why is this so hard for us? I think it’s because we forget that we are love.

See, I believe the Universe and everything in it was created from a loving energy. That loving energy makes up the grass and trees, buildings and cars, you, me, the Universe and God. Love is everything and everything is love. When I love you I also love myself. If I hate you, I must also hate myself. Get it?

We are all the same, from the same loving vibration. We are all one. Love moves through us and surrounds us. We are connected by love. Love is the very essence of who we are, the essence of life.

I say we embrace our true loving nature and spread it everywhere we go. I challenge to try to love someone you don’t find especially lovable and see how it opens your heart. Notice how the more you love the more love you notice.

And I’ll leave you with the simple words of The Beatles…all you need is love, love is all you need.

Namaste,

Melissa

What Type of Yoga Do You Do?

This is a question I get asked at least once a week. Is this vinyasa yoga? Do you do hot yoga? Are anusara and ashtanga the same? Can you teach me power yoga? Iyengar is a funny word…do you do that type? As yoga studios popped up all over my town the style of yoga they offered became a hot topic. Everyone wants to do the most trendy style, best for you style.

But consider this…here you have a beautiful practice that’s meant to balance your body, mind, and spirit. It’s not a workout, it’s a lifestyle, a path. I mean, you don’t do yoga, you live yoga. I feel like the question of “what type of yoga do you do” was being answered in the wrong way. Here are the answers we should be giving…

I am a bhakti yogi, I practice the yoga of devotion. Bhakti yoga is based on devotion to a deity and/or a well-defined spiritual path.

I am a karma yogi, I practice the yoga of service. Karma yoga is based on serving others without attachment to the outcome.

I am a  jnana yogi, I practice the yoga of knowledge. Jnana yoga is the search for the knowledge and truth that lies within us.

I am a raja yogi, I practice the royal path of yoga. Raja yoga is the study of the 8 limbs of yoga.

Each path of yoga is trying to balance body, mind, and spirit. Each path uses asana, pranayama,  and meditation along with other practices and to varying degrees. However, the focus of the 4 paths  isn’t a handstand or the perfect lotus pose. Yoga should take you deeper into yourself. Then is should help you explore your mind. Yoga opens the door to compassion, love, and healing.

Yes, choose a style of yoga that you enjoy doing. The one that engages you physically and mentally. Then consider what path of yoga you want to pursue and let your style of yoga lead you deeper on that path.

Namaste,

Melissa

 

Resolutions

I love to celebrate New Year’s Day. I love the idea that we can reset our lives and begin fresh each January 1st. It’s such a hopeful holiday. I love the idea of resolutions, although that word is a turn off for many. I looked up the definition…resolution – a firm decision to do or not  to do something. The synonyms are a great group of words like intention, decision, aim, plan, and resolve.

My #1 resolution (to do or to not do) for 2017 is to live a balanced life. There’s depth to this resolution. For instance, I want a balanced diet and balanced relationships. I want work/life balance. I should balance by checkbook. It goes on and on. Balance is kind of a never-ending proposal.

Here’s my #1 action step to help me achieve balance. Meditation. I know from experience that when I take the time to meditate a chain reaction of balance is set off. So it has to be a priority. It’s the cornerstone of my balanced life. There’s an old saying (maybe from the Buddha) – “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”  Through meditation we find more time for the things we feel are valuable and important.

What other actions steps do I need to achieve balance in my life?

  • Self-care which starts with meditation
  • Sleep well and rise early which starts with meditation
  • Do a better job of prioritization which starts with meditation
  • Let go which starts with meditation
  • Stay present which starts with meditation

That’s a partial list. As I write down what I want and create my action steps meditation comes up at every turn. This one practice is the key to balance for me in the coming year.

What’s your resolution? How does meditation fit into your plan? Let me know if I can help you with your meditation practice or with setting and achieving your goals in the coming year.

Namaste,

Melissa

Why Meditate?

imagesMeditation gets a lot of hype but is this ancient practice for everyone? You bet it is! As a  yoga teacher and a health coach I would recommend a meditation practice to all my clients. But why?

Meditation provides clarity. We live in a 24/7 world. We have the ability to carry the internet in our hands. It’s possible to know anything at any time. Our minds become overwhelmed by all the incoming data. When an issue arises that needs our attention we often find it difficult to focus on just that one item long enough to resolve it. Mediation practice helps to quiet all the extra chatter and bring clarity to the issue at hand.

Meditation provides presence. Oh, how multi-tasking has taken a toll on us. We go 100 mph, in several directions at once, to do multiple tasks. How much do we accomplish? Are we doing things well? We feel disconnected even though we seem to interact more than ever. Meditation teaches us the value of only doing one thing. When we sit still, eyes closed, mind at rest in mantra, we are present. We can translate this to presence in everyday life.

Meditation provides connection. I would argue that in today’s world we miss connection. Connection with each other certainly and in a larger sense connection with Mother Earth, connection to our Source. Yes, I mean God or your version of A Higher Power. The stillness of meditation provides a space for us to re-connect (or maybe find that Source for the first time) to something larger than us. That something is there to guide and nurture us. That something makes us better because it connects us all.

If you don’t have a meditation practice I encourage you to start. If you don’t know where to start, I’ll help you. Check the website for information on meditation classes. At the studio we meditate each January 1 at 10:00am. No experience necessary. Please join us. You can sign up here.

Namaste,

Melissa

 

The Spiritual Journey of Yoga

Experience the Shift

This amazing series will transform your life.

The Spiritual Journey of Yoga is a 12 week series that will lead you deeper into the true power of yoga. It’s a chance to explore how you can use yoga every day, on and off the mat, to become a better, more peaceful you. The course includes a yoga practice each week, the study and practice of meditation, the study of yoga philosophy, discussion of the chakras, and a few fun, yoga style adventures. Your yoga practice and your life will expand into places you never imagined.

The class will meet each Wednesday from 9:00am – 1:00pm beginning on September 7 and ending on November 23, 2016. The cost for the 12 week program is $499. Sign up with a friend and you each save 10%!

This is a one of a kind series that I think will impact your life in a profound way. I hope you’ll join me.

Namaste,
Melissa

P.S. This would be a great class if you want to learn more about yoga without taking yoga teacher training!