Meditation Monday #40 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Annamaya)

Welcome to another rainy Monday at the beach. Do you know I haven’t taken my kids to the beach at all this summer? How terrible is that?! Last summer our beach days were play dates and there were many of them, but this summer our beach buddy is also my running buddy and play dates have been of a different nature. *Sadness*

Alright, enough about the rain….today I’m here to talk to you about meditation again. Why? Because it’s something that I’m making a priority in my life these days. Over the weekend I was in Asheville teaching the NETA PT Review Workshop to a great group of people at the Woodfin YMCA. They were wonderful to hang with and chat with and to work with. I love it when I have great weekends away like that!

I had intended to go and scout the 8K course for the race this fall after I got done teaching on Saturday, but it was raining….and I had left my car windows open….and my lunch from Whole Foods was disappointing. I had also missed breakfast and hadn’t drank hardly anything all day. I think the run would’ve sucked if I had attempted it.

Instead I chose to go back to my creepy hotel (don’t stay off of Tunnel Road) and work on the Inclusivity Training and some NETA writing. I experienced some seriously great meditation practices in this course that I cannot wait to share with you! And that motivated me to start back up with the How to Meditate series again today.

So now, after that seriously unnecessary introduction to this post, I want to talk to you about Koshas….which is not a slang way of talking about Jewish foods or pickles. Koshas are the five layers or sheaths of the body; the outermost of which is called Annamaya or the “Food Layer”.

First off, this has nothing to do with the food you’ll eat (we’ll talk about that layer later), but rather with the fact that we all must die someday and (if buried) eventually become food for the earth and other creatures on it. We liken these layers to nesting dolls with each successively deeper layer representing a deeper part of the self. However, unlike nesting dolls, the layers cannot be separated.

Annamaya is most often cared for where people start their yoga practice….with Asana (postural practice). Both Asana and Annamaya deal with the muscles, the bones, the flesh. Consider your Annamaya layer and ask these questions from Rebecca Pacheco’s book:

  • What physical experiences nourish me?
  • When am I most comfortable in my skin?

For me the obvious answer for both is exercise. But, during meditation I often find more.

When am I most comfortable in my body? When I’m taking care of it. And that includes eating well, getting enough sleep, making time to move and rest. Not just exercise, but when I’m playing with my kids and when I’m not thinking about the body and all the ways in which I’ve judged it in the past.

What physical experiences nourish me? The little things like putting lotion on, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth with a new toothbrush, drinking warm tea, wrapping up in a cozy blanket, hugging my children, snuggling close to my husband, holding his hand, laughing with friends.

My Happiness Project is all about my body and I started with health and now I’m working on eating (again), but I am not neglecting the Annamaya layer in this process. Perhaps you should give your Annamaya layer a little more attention this week?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on/response to the questions posed above.

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Finding a Rhythm – Obliging Myself

I’m sitting at the Charlotte airport again. I had a lovely and brief weekend in New Jersey at the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA teaching the NETA PT Workshop. It was one of the best groups I’ve had in awhile, so I’m glad that I got to share that time with them.

The trip was a little precarious in that I got in late on Friday night and had to navigate Newark and the surrounding highways in the dark. Let me just tell you…..I’m not used to New England drivers and being just over a month out from my accident it was an added challenge! I even felt my left arm going numb at times and worried I was having a heart attack. Some good Ujjaii breathing helped me calm down, but it didn’t help that I had chosen the Toyota Yaris from Hertz that had no cruise control. Yikes!

The weekend was a success in that I tried to spend a little time thinking about why I’m away from the blog so much at this time. I thought about my training routine lately (or lack there of) and my general situation in life. I came up with a few things that I’ve been meaning to write about while seeing beautiful deer grazing in someone’s yard this morning. It almost made me consider moving to New Jersey….but don’t jump for joy yet Tina!

So, I’m an OBLIGER. This is something I discovered in my research on Gretchen Rubin’s work and Happiness Projects. What does it mean exactly? It means, something that I’ve kind of known all along, that it’s much easier for me to commit to something if the outcome is for someone else.

In what ways am I an obliger? With my kids, especially. If something is necessary for one of them, it’s going to get done at my own sacrifice. For work I’m pretty good at making sure the work is done (maybe not always in the time frame I’d planned, but always before the deadline).

In which areas of my life do I not oblige? Ugh, I’m probably not the best obliger in my relationships…..

I read this interesting article on NBCNews.com the other day about why it’s so much harder to be married in 2017 than it was before. One thing that I hit on was the whole “getting married later” and “finding it easier to be single”. I was married once before and while I liked being married both then and now, find it harder this time around. I didn’t spend long being “single” (about a year), but the independence that came at that time in my life was refreshing in a way I didn’t know it could be. There are still times in which I wish I could have things only MY way (not a very Yogi Attitude).

In my friendships I’m probably a decent obliger and currently more so with one friend than others. I am training with a friend for an 8k in September. My 2017 birthday present to myself. And that’s probably where I’m the worst obliger….in my own yoga practice and fitness (especially right now).

I can get up at 530am twice a week to go and teach yoga to others. I can make my body do 4 or more classes per day. I can run 6 miles with a friend. I can’t seem to find the rhythm that keeps me going on my own.

You may say, with all that other activity, why would it matter? It does. It matters a lot to a fitness professional. I understand, after many failures in life, how hard it is for people to create behavior change. I understand the struggle to “stay healthy”, to “get in shape”, to “be fit”. I understand the ups and downs of this journey more than a lot of other fitness professionals. I feel like Obligers are not often found in the fitness realm. My colleagues tend to be highly driven toward working out for themselves and, while I’ve had those moments in my life, I’m finding it easier to commit to others and their needs right now than my own.

One thing that used to help me was my schedule. My planner set the rhythm of my life….10 lines for each day dedicated to what I wanted/needed to do. I put in exercise as a priority, play dates with friends, intentions to catch up with people, dates, household obligations, and work commitments. However, I haven’t used my planner since the beginning of May and it shows in many areas of my life. I am surprised by how many ways the accident has impacted my life. So, today, on my flight from Newark I busted out the planner and started writing in it. I made a list for this week of all that I’d like to accomplish, but didn’t put exercise on it. Why? Doesn’t that seem counter productive to my goals and my Happiness Project? Yes, but it’s also more productive for me to find my way back to exercising on my own organically.

I have this big fitness goal that I’d like to achieve this summer….108 Sun Salutations. I was inspired by Tracy at Fit is a Feminist Issue awhile back, but haven’t found the way to commit to it yet. I even tried to wrangle my friend I’m running with into it. But I don’t think she was exactly game. I’m going to keep running with her twice a week and see what happens. I finish teaching for the summer on June 29th and then it will be all on me. Fingers crossed that I pick up again before then!

Have you been over to the quiz yet to find your tendency?

Have you been to New Jersey before?

What is your summer fitness goal?

What keeps you in your rhythm?

Coming Down

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on the blog….a little over a week. On Monday I had every intention of posting about how wonderful it was to have taken my last dose of Prednisone, but the truth is that this week has been a little of ups and downs. In my health journal I have seen my first smile on Tuesday when I went for a run with a friend and didn’t have to take the meds, but also my first frown because Wednesday I was so fatigued and couldn’t get off the couch to go exercise.

I am pretty okay with the neutral face days because that means that I’m still getting life done. I had another smile on Thursday while getting to experience Goddess Yoga as taught by a former student of mine. Things are looking up, but coming down from the Prednisone has meant that I’m more tired, my mind has slowed down, and I’m adjusting to the old eating patterns again.

And today? Today gets another smile! Today I am in Rochester, New York at one of my favorite workshop sites (Rochester Athletic Club for Women) teaching the NETA Pilates Specialty Certification. I love this place because the women are amazing, the facility is super clean, and the host, Nikki, is fabulous! I would work for her if I lived in this area.

I’m also getting the opportunity to eat at one of my favorite restaurants….Root 31. Today I had their Mediterranean Flatbread for lunch and it was so good that I ate it before I could snag a photo for you. For dinner I had to indulge in my go to Beets and Sweets salad. At first I thought it was a little smaller than last year, but it still hit the spot after my 4 mile walk on the treadmill. I wanted to run, but seriously….the treadmill is so close to the ceiling at this hotel that I was afraid of going through the roof!

Now I’m just prepping for another great day of Pilates training, one last meal at Root 31, my trip home, and a better week ahead. Check in with me on Monday for a full recap of my weekend away plus the start of a new Meditation series (think How to Meditate); Wednesday we’ll be breathing together in a different way; and Saturday I’m back doing another race for RTE.

How is your health holding up?

What is on your agenda for the week ahead?

What was the best part of your weekend?

Health in 5 Easy Steps

One of my least favorite terms as a fitness professional is the word “HEALTHY”. Why does it rub me the wrong way? Well, because it’s hard to define in some instances. The definition of HEALTH that we use for the NETA PT Workshop is:

 

Health: Freedom from disease AND the capacity to enjoy life and withstand challenges.

Last week on Monday, when I started describing my Happiness Project I said that the first thing I wanted out of MY BEST BODY was:

To be in good health and not currently fighting minor nor chronic disease

So, for the first month of this project I will be focusing on my health in this regard. Continue reading “Health in 5 Easy Steps”

Workout Wednesday #5 – 5 Favorite Pilates Exercises

Pilates is one of the things that I wish I gave more attention to in my life. I spend a lot of time (until recently) doing yoga and running. I had originally intended to share with you some running warm-up drills, but decided instead to share instead, my 5 Favorite Pilates Exercises in the hopes that it will also help me to get back into the habit of doing them! I am traveling to one of my favorite out of town workshop sites the end of March to teach a Mat Pilates workshop for NETA, so it’d be great if I could get a little more regular practice under my belt before I get there!

Here are a few other posts I’ve written about Pilates in the past:

Prepped

You Mean Pilates Was a DUDE?!

Fast Friday Tips: Nayoya No-No

And, as always….

While I am a fitness professional with multiple degrees and certifications, this workout is unsolicited, un-sponsored, and not intended as advice for you to use to diagnose your own injuries, treat them, nor rehab anything; nor is it an exercise prescription that will meet your personal needs, likes, and abilities. Please check in with your healthcare professional if you’re having health problems and before starting any new exercise routine.

Meditation Monday #28 – Muscles Gotta Eat

I spent the weekend in Delaware, Ohio presenting the NETA PT Workshop to the fabulous people at Get Fit LLC. My room at the “Quality” Inn left much to be desired…..

Crooked lights, random things in my sink, a shower curtain that wasn't installed correctly the first time, a drain that fell apart, curtains that don't close around the heater....and VALUE!
Crooked lights, random things in my sink, a shower curtain that wasn’t installed correctly the first time, a drain that fell apart, curtains that don’t close around the heater….and VALUE!

Not only did I manage to book myself, essentially, in a trucker motel, but I overlooked the fact that there was no fitness center. This weekend was meant to be my slow foray back into working out after being ill the last two weeks. Instead I opted for my current HIIT routine and only had one person come up to the third floor to knock…..squat jumps are not 3rd floor friendly in a trucker motel.

Maybe we should have more fitness themed hotels?

My favorite statement from the weekend was “Muscles Gotta Eat” because they do….they eat carbs and protein and fat….they are what eats when we’re burning calories. But, more on that later….

I thought about writing today about Gratitude Meditation, but decided instead to go back to the Gates’ book. The Day 74 reading was the last one on Santosha and I felt I needed to explore that theme a little further today. However, I was disappointed. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #28 – Muscles Gotta Eat”

Fave Reads Friday #7 – Reading List 2017

Happy Friday Everyone! I haven’t done a Fave Reads Friday post in quite some time, but it’s something I want to do more regularly in 2017. Last year I did a great job of reading a lot of books, but that left a lot of unread magazines. This year I already know I will be doing some reading for work, so I’ve planned to scale back on the book reading some and spend more time clearing out magazines and emails and sharing with you what I learn. So, here’s my Reading List for 2017: Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #7 – Reading List 2017”

Meditation Monday #25 -Positive Energy and the Authentic Self

I am siting in the airport on Sunday night and writing this on my phone. The airline took my bag and my laptop with it. I guess it was too big for my flight.

I was traveling for NETA again this weekend and taught a Yoga Foundations course to a small group of people in Manheim, Pennsylvania at a fitness center located inside of a retirement community. They were beautiful people who inspired my post for this Monday.

Each time I travel I fear, but only slightly, that the workshop will not go well….that I will not connect with the participants and therefore struggle to present. However,  this was one of the great weekends in which I felt my authentic self shine through and a connection established. Not only does that mean that I am more easily able to deliver the material,  but also that I gain a sense of self satisfaction in fulfilling my Dharma. I have most definitely been called in life to be a teacher. And recently I have been teaching a lot about the Yamas and Niyamas as well as studying them in my personal meditation practice. I have been re-reading Do Your OM Thing and keep resonating on the final Niyama: Surrender or Devotion to a Higher Power (Isvara pranidhana).

Pacheco highlights in her book that a) Yoga is not a religion and b) that the higher power can also be one’s Best Self. I have always reiterated the first of those things, but tend to seek something outside of myself such as the good of all humankind. This weekend I did a free writing exercise meditation to clear some negative thoughts from my mind. In doing so I came to one major conclusion: I really like my authentic self. However, something else struck me in my writing and that was that I think my authentic self is hiding in parts of my life where I need it to be expressed most.

My authentic self is naturally positive and caring and happy. I am happy with my children, my work, my friends, my yoga practice, but I don’t always live as if I am happy with those things. I don’t always devote myself or give over to my best and authentic self. This negates a few more of the yamas and niyamas.

First, your authentic self is living your truth (Satya). Second, the opposite of a happy and positive person is a negative one. When I exude this negative energy into the world around me I am leaving reverberations for others and infecting them with this negativity  (Himsa – causing harm). Finally, I hoard these negative thoughts and feelings (violating Aparigraha) and pollute my mind, body, and soul (negating Saucha).

I could go further yet and find that this leaves me ill content  (not experiencing Santosha) and this steals my own happiness as well as that which belongs to those around me (Asteya). But I have decided that I want always to make ripples of positive energy in my world because I felt them this weekend in my workshop. I felt them leave me and enter others and I felt them rebound back in a way that brought me peace and joy and fortified my spirit of myself.

How would you describe your authentic self?

Do you keep him/her hidden away?

What are the reverberations of your thoughts, words, and actions on the world?

How are you doing with the Yamas and Niyamas these days?

Fall in Baltimore and Final Notes on Voting

Happy Sunday! I’m waiting for my flight back to Wilmington and thought I’d take a moment to write a few things about my trip before tomorrow’s Meditation Monday post.

I’m in Baltimore, MD (actually worked in Columbia this weekend) for the NETA PT workshop and it’s my first time in this part of the country. It’s actually FALL here, unlike back in Wilmington and that makes it feel light years away. I was just there on Friday and now I’m here preparing to go back and I almost don’t want to go! Leaves are falling and changing color, the air is crisp, I mean….what more could someone ask for in NOVEMBER?

20161113_073903This trip I stayed at a Hampton Inn. I like these hotels because they always have unique decor. I’m kind of in love with the wallpaper from my bathroom this trip, but I’m still confused as to how I’ve had handicap rooms two weekends in a row at two different hotel chains? One of my favorite things about Hampton Inn is the oatmeal bar. They cook their oatmeal well (not soggy) and offer up dried fruit, brown sugar, and sliced almonds to top it with. I skipped the brown sugar and added cream cheese instead. It makes for a unique combination of sweet and tart, creamy and crunchy.oatmeal

My workshop site was about a block and a half away from my hotel, so I debated walking there each day, but ultimately “freezing” temps kept me in the car. Plus, I had a lot to carry and no coat/gloves/hat. Also close to my hotel was a lake with a trail around it. I planned ahead to run there Saturday evening and get in my 5 miler since I was lacking this week due to emotions and failed motivation. Lake Elkhorn would have been a beautiful run had I not forgotten about the time change and wasn’t left running in the dark. I still got in 3 dizzying miles at a “decent” jog pace.

I stuffed myself full of burrito from Qdoba last night and then relaxed by Skyping with my mom and catching up on blogs I haven’t read in forever! And now it’s over. I taught to a wonderful group of people who were engaging, energetic, and made the shouting I had to do (over external noise) worth the almost lost voice. I am not yet sure if I will brave the 530am alarm in the morning or do my 5 miler with the little guy in the stroller later in the morning. My weekend has just been enjoyable.

whole-foodsToday, I even discovered the most unique Whole Foods I’ve ever seen! Look at this place! And it was next to a lake/pond. fall-in-baltimoreI was mesmerized and spent almost a half an hour walking around the store just marveling at the design. I mean, it’s Whole Foods, I’ve been there before….

Well, it’s time to board, but I wanted to drop off one final note regarding the election and state of our country and then I will go back to not talking about it until January-ish. If you’re unhappy with the election results, it’s important to know this – our constitution does not guarantee us the right to vote for president; thus the electoral college exists. If you want your vote to matter (just like all of the people who come to your door and beat it down to get you to vote tell you) you need to make sure that your state changes the law. Please visit NationalPopularVote.com and find out what I’m talking about. I have already sent my letter…..my first step in getting more involved and making change happen in this country.

This is your wake up call: will you answer?