3 Tips to Use Your Brain Better

Unknown-1Last week on my blog we learned about some fantastic neuroscience findings regarding the mind and body that remind us of our tremendous potential for self healing and creating the life we desire:

  1. We continue to develop new brain cells all through adulthood, meaning we can change patterns, learn new skills and even heal brain damage throughout life.
  2. Our heart and digestive tract have independent nervous systems to the brain, often sending more signals to the brain than the other way around, meaning the body is not just the puppet of the brain, but is in a dynamic dialogue.
  3. Our genes are triggered to express by environmental stimuli, so even if we have a genetic predisposition we can reduce the likelihood of that gene expressing by being mindful about environmental stimuli (like food, thoughts, exercise and exposure to toxins).

This week I want to look at a few practical ways to put that knowledge to use.

  1. Keep Trying New Things & Learning 

Staying in the same old routine dulls the brain and can keep us stuck in undesirable patterns. When ever we learn something new the brain is forced to fire differently, creating new and different neurological connections.

Dr. Joe Dispenza explains, learning is forging new synaptic connections, and every time you learn something new your brain physically changes. Nerve cells that fire together wire together, and as you begin to learn new information you biologically wire that into your brain architecture.

The mind is the brain in action. When ever we make the brain work differently, we’re changing our mind. Changing our mind means changing our experience of life, but if we stay stuck in the same old routines this is unlikely to happen.

So get out there and try something new! Next time you’re in a new yoga pose and feel silly or frustrated remember the effect it will have on shifting other mental patterns, generating new synaptic connections and cognitive ability could be life changing!

  1. Relax, The Saber Tooth Tiger is Extinct  

Stress is one of the biggest causes of disease in our modern world mostly because people do not know how to turn off the stress response in their body.  Over time this leads to adrenal fatigue, poor sleep, bad digestion, clouded thinking, reduced functioning of all bodily systems and ultimately disease.

Evolutionarily the stress response, also known as fight, flight or freeze response, saved us from things like sabre tooth tigers. When we’re in danger this response triggers blood to rushed into our limbs, eyes and our cerebellum or primitive brain, and away from our organs, frontal lobe and neocortex, the areas of logic, creativity and self awareness.

When we’re stressed out about work or life, or overstimulate ourselves with caffeine, the brain receives the same chemical messages as if we were in a life threatening situation, like being chased by a sabre tooth tiger.

The truth is, rarely are we in such danger, but the brain and body don’t know the difference between real danger or perceived danger. It errs on the side of caution and sends the adrenals into overdrive.

So what to do? Recognise that stress is a choice. As mentioned in my previous blog, we can observe our own thoughts, neuroscience calls this meta-cognition. Next time you find yourself in a stressful situation and getting all worked up, heart racing, can’t think clearly try to catch yourself and ask, is this really life threatening? Do I really need to stress out about this so much?

An easy way to diffuse stress and shift into the relaxation response is to take a few deep breaths and calm the heart rate. The Heart Math Institute calls the coherence. When the heart rate lowers it’s telling the brain, “Don’t worry, we’re safe, the tiger is gone, no need to trigger stress chemicals.” Moving the breath and body in a mindful way as well as meditation also turn off the stress response.

  1. Imagine, Visualise & Meditate on What you Want 

The fascinating thing about the body-brain connection is that it can’t tell the difference between real or imagined experiences. Simply thinking about the thing that stresses us out can send us into  a stress response. Or, simply imagining falling in love with someone can create a whole cascade of chemical reactions from the Limbic system generating emotions.

The point is, our body responds to our thoughts, even if they are imagined. Now this can be very very useful, or very very detrimental. If we’re constantly thinking negative stressful thoughts, this is how we’re going to feel. On the other hand, if we choose to think more positively, we’ll feel more positive.

Remember, nerves that fire together wire together. So if we’ve had a negative thought pattern for a long time it means we’ve neurologically wired together strong networks for this thought pattern and it’s much easier to keep using those connections than forge new ones. But we can forge new connections! And the more we think in the way we want to the stronger those connections become. The less we repeat an old pattern, the weaker those connections become.

Dr. Joe Dispenza says that learning is creating new connections, and remembering is maintaining them. You can choose which patterns you want to maintain, and which you want to let deteriorate.

Great ways to shift thought patterns include visualisation or imaging the new way you want to react to a situation before it happens. This is sometimes called mental rehearsal and a common practice among elite athletes because it’s been show to greatly improve performance. Apply this to any new way you want to act or feel and you’ll literally be rewiring your brain so that it becomes easier to act, think and feel the way you want.

Practical Ayurveda for Yoga Teacher with Morgan Webert

30 hour Continuing Education

17 April – 15 May, Fridays 12-6pm

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Debunking 3 Myths About Brain & Body That Can Change Your Life 

051227_synapse_02Last weekend I went to an incredible workshop about the neuroscience of the mind body connection. Something I’ve been fascinated with for years, but this weekend seriously re-inspired my passion for exploring the unbelievable potential of our mind-body and how important it is to work with it on a regular basis.

Before we dive into how to work with mind-body connection let’s start by busting a few myths.

Myth Busting: 

1) Adult brain cells don’t regenerate — total BS!  While it is true that the majority of our brain development occurs in our early years, neuroscientists have now documented that adult brain cells do keep growing and changing. In other words, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Nerve cells grow, change and develop networks of connections based on environmental stimuli and repetition throughout our whole life. As Dr. Joe Dispenza explains, learning is forging new connections, and every time you learn something new your brain physically changes. Nerve cells that fire together wire together, and as you begin to learn new information you biologically wire that into your brain architecture.

So even if you feel super stuck in an old pattern, know that you have the power to change it! If you’re starting yoga, meditation or any other practice stick to it, you’re brain will develop new synaptic connections each time you practice and eventually it will become easier and automatic.

2) The brain is the command centre — not quite. Our brain is amazingly powerful, but scientists are beginning to discover that it’s not the penultimate control centre of our existence. For example, the heart has it’s own independent complex nervous system often referred to as the “heart-brain” composed of about 40,000 neurons that can sense, feel, learn, remember and communicate messages back to the brain. In fact, studies show that the heart sends more neurological commands to the brain than the brain does to the heart.

“One important way the heart can speak to and influence the brain is when the heart is coherent – generating a stable, sine-wavelike pattern in its rhythms. When the heart rhythm is coherent, the body, including the brain, begins to experience all sorts of benefits, among them greater mental clarity and intuitive ability, including better decision-making,” says Deborah Rozman, Ph.D. and president of HeartMath Institute.

heart-brain-coaching-image-Scientists are also making great discoveries about the independent nervous system in our digestive tract, called the enteric nervous system, or the “gut-brain” and how it not only controls digestion but has a massive influence on our moods.

So remember, there’s a lot more behind trusting your heart and gut feeling that you may realise! The yoga system actually recognises that we have 5 bodies, the mind being just one of them (read my last blog for more details on that).

On top of that, something yogi’s have been exploring for thousands of years, and what scientists called “meta-cognition,” is the ability to observe the mind. If we can observer our mind it implies there is a cognitive part of ourselves separate from our mind. What is that? Our higher self or consciousness according to the yogi’s of yore.

3) Everything is genetically determined and we can’t change our genes — wrong! It’s commonly thought that we’re stuck with what we’re born with genetically and that familial patterns of health and disease are passed down generation to generation. The new field of epigenetics however, has made groundbreaking discoveries on how environmental factors actually control our gene activity and proving we are not prisoners to genetic heredity.

“Bottom line: While each of us inherits our own unique, hardwired, unchangeable version of the genetic code, epigenetic factors such as lifestyle and diet can radically change what our genes do,” says Dr. Frank Lipman. “There are thousands of genes that render you susceptible to the classic, chronic diseases so many people are experiencing today, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer. But whether or not these genes are expressed, and blossom into disease, may be determined by how you live your life, how you eat, the toxins you’re exposed to, the supplements you take, your beliefs and how you handle stress. This means that though you may be susceptible to heart disease or diabetes, you do not necessarily have to succumb to them. That is, your genes are a predisposition, not a fate, and the expression of your genes is much more dynamic and modifiable than previously realised.”

Further research shows that what we think and believe is itself an environmental influence on how genes express themselves. So remember, that you have choice and power even with regards to genetic predisposition.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog where I’ll discuss five simple ways to use your brain, and mind-body connection to live a healthier, happier life!

I love hearing back from you! What experience or thoughts do you have about these topics?

If Yoga Changed Your Life Give Me a Shout! 

It’s something I hear all the time. “Yoga has changed my life!” And I always try to ask, “How?” What amazes me is that the answers always reflect how practicing yoga has changed many aspects of a persons life, not just their body.

I hear things like:

“I’m more calm with my children.”

“I take better care of myself now.”

“I just feel happier since practicing yoga.”

“I have a better community.”

“I’m less stressed and more clear.”

“I breath better.”

“I’m more courageous.”

“I feel healthier, sleep better, eat better, ache less…”

These are really just a smidgen of the responses, and typically when I ask this question people can’t stop telling me all the many ways their life changed for the better and why.

I’ll be honest, sometimes people injury themselves, but usually they learn a lot form it (about their body or pushing too hard) and heal, and sometimes the paradigm shift can throw people into a period of confusion about how they’re currently living their lives. But I’ve seen again and again the most beneficial and profound breakthroughs come after the struggles, both physically and psychologically.

I know for me this practice and all I’ve learned from my struggles with it has influenced my life so deeply and beautifully I couldn’t imagine an existence without it.

So why does yoga change our lives so much?! 

When we step up to a mindfulness practice like yoga, we’re never just working with the physical body. This might be where most of us start, and it may even remain the primary part of our practice. But the physical body is a gateway, a medium, for working with so many other aspects of ourself.

Traditional yoga philosophy says we have five bodies or layers, not just the one physical body. Each time we step to the mat or cushion we’re working with all five layers of ourselves, and the ripple effect into all parts of life is undeniable.

The Five Layers of Ourselves

  1. The Physical Body — Annamaya Kosha koshas
  2. The Energy Body — Pranamaya Kosha
  3. The Mind Body — Manamaya Kosha
  4. The Wisdom Body — Visjnanamaya Kosha 
  5. The Bliss Body — Anandamaya Kosha 

Our most obvious or gross body is the physical body, the annamaya kosha. It’s our tissue, skin, organs, bones, blood, lymph. The matter that creates our form, carries us through space and performs our deeds or desires.

This the layer we often start with in yoga. Anna in Sanskrit means food, so this is also called our food body, and manifests into form all that we’re ingesting. The thing to remember about the yogic and Ayurvedic system’s is that we ingest not just through our mouth, but through all five of our senses (sight, taste, smell, sound, touch). So what we eat through our mouth, but also through our experiences, will be reflected in our physical body.

Through practice we’re aiming to create balance and get rid of stagnation. 

As we work with our physical form, increase awareness of what the body really needs for balance and move through the stagnation within it, we feel and process experiences and begin to notice which foods actually make us feel good.

The clearer and healthier our physical body gets the more we can sense the next more subtle layer called our pranamaya kosha, or the energy body. 

Prana in Sanskrit means energy, and when we work with breath in yoga it’s called pranayama. Breath is considered the carrier of life force energy through us. Seems logical, when we stop breathing we die.

The breath is also intrinsically related to our nervous system. When we’re triggered into a stress response the breathing become more shallow, when relaxed we breath deeper and more fully. While the nervous system state can effect the breath, so too can the breath influence our nervous system. Simply by taking deep breaths we trigger the “rest and relax” state, or parasympathetic nervous system, and this begins to elicit feelings of calm, peace and harmony.

As the body and breath begin to harmonize we’re able to observe and work with our next subtle layer, the mind body called the manamaya kosha. 

One of the greatest benefits of any breath body practice is that it calls the mind into the present moment.

Our mind loves time traveling into the future or past, but our breath and body only ever exist in the present. When we breath deeply and move it’s like we’re telling the mind, “Hey, pay attention, life is here and now!”

This starts to clear the mind body of it’s chattering, worrying, planning, regretting, anxiety building hobby of time traveling. And then we start to feel REALLY good!

When we balance mind, body and breath a quietness arises within us. 

In this quiet space that we’ve created through practice we’re able to hear more clearly the next subtle layer of ourselves, the wisdom body called the visjnanamaya kosha. 

Traditionally the mind, body and breath practices of yoga aim to ready us for meditation, and meditation is the ability to concentrate and connect to our highest self, our wisdom and the wisdom of the universe.

The more we do this the more our actions come from a place connectivity, we feel empowered, supported and clear about what we’re supposed to do. Living from this places improves our relationships, our creativity, our performance at work or sport. Really, it improves all aspects of our lives, and for me I’ve noticed it heightens my sense of purpose and ability to act on that purpose.

When we live in alignment with the wisdom in and around around us we feel blissful. 

The more we balance our body, breath and mind, listen to our wisdom and live from that place, naturally our last most subtle layer arises, our bliss body called the annandamaya kosha.

And this my friends is why yoga changes so many people’s lives for the better. That simple.

How has yoga changed your life and connected you to your bliss body? Give me shout for yoga! 

YOGA EVOLUTION 22:2

Find out more about the yoga lifestyle program I teach at Qi Yoga starting Feb 22 . Ready to have yoga change your life?! SIGN UP HERE

Pressing the Annual Pause Button 

Unknown-1 “When we cultivate the discipline to pause, it becomes possible for us to make a choice that is outside our normal habit pattern. And it is in breaking through these entrained patterns that we can begin to experience a more liberated way of being. Gradually we become the freedom that we previously longed for.” Donna Farhi

This week while flipping through one of my favourite yoga books, “Bringing Yoga To Life” by Donna Farhi, I came across this underlined passage and it reminded me of exactly why I do all of the yoga practices I do, but particularly reinforced why I detox.

I see detoxing as pressing the annual pause button. A time to stop the “entrained patterns” as Fahri puts it, look at what they are exactly, and then consciously decide how, what or if any of them need changing so that I may live in a more liberated and happy way.

Fahri says what happens in the pause between longing for a feeling of freedom and how we respond to that longing is worth consideration because it is in the pause that we make a choice.

One of the most simple yet profound skills I’ve learned through practicing yoga is to take a deep breath before acting. We learn to do this in the yoga class room by slowing down, listening to the breath and then making conscious movements…and not only does it generate a beautiful grace, control and strength, but also a peace of mind and steady nervous system that is palpable.

The longer I practice yoga the better I get at taking a deep breath, a pause, in hard or intense moments of life, and then moving through them in a more graceful and conscious way.

But that pause, that moment of non action and just looking at what is, can be really uncomfortable.  In nanoseconds we may experience and feel anxiety, depression, unbound enthusiasm, fear, love, longing, aversion…so many powerful emotions. What ever they are it is their potency that often makes us feel uncomfortable and want to rush into a decision that gets us out of experiencing those strong feelings.

So often we’re launched into reactiveness just to escape the intensity of our feelings. On a day to day basis it may happen when we come home from work at night and feel lonely or overwhelmed and without thinking pour a drink, flip on the T.V., over eat or snap at our partner.

All of these little moments of unconscious reactions end up creating habits that we can become trapped by. Rather than listening the the message of the emotions which guide us to our deepest desires and life purpose we become trapped in patterns of avoiding them.

What would happen if we instead stopped, paused, and asked what would true satisfy us? Well, we might just discover the answer!

In previous detoxes when I’ve slowed down my life, created more me time for just a few weeks, stopped the habits like overstimulation, overeating and overexerting that lead me away from feeling all my deeper feeling — when I just paused normal life and looked within — I found answers and pathways to my hearts desire, to my inner power, my life-force.

Fahri says, “When we contain rather than constantly discharge [avoid] our feeling state, we allow ourselves to feel completely. In feeling completely we re-experience our aliveness and the source of that aliveness.”

This is why I detox. Yes, it is to cleanse my body and clear my mind, but these I do in order to re-experience my aliveness and the source of that aliveness within me.

Each time I detox I feel more and I also see the contrast of what is causing me to feel dull, low energy or foggy in my mind and intentions.

The seeing is uncomfortable at first, but the truth is, the long term experience of living without that life-force energy connection is more uncomfortable.

Fahri also talks about how this practice of pausing reminds us that we are not all the things we experience. When we pause we connect to our observer mind and remember our true identity is the part within us that does not change, the soul or purusa as it’s called in Sanskrit.

The perspective shifts to, “I feel anxious right now, but I am not this anxiety. I have the habit of emotional eating right now, but I am not that habit.”

There is so much freedom generated when we remember this! I always fell like a weight is lifted off my shoulders when I re-identify with my pure essence rather than the momentary life experience. And again, this is a huge part of detoxing. Clearing out the self identity that doesn’t serve us, and reconnecting to our identity as pure, powerful, conscious beings.

My New Years Yoga Detox starts tomorrow and I’m so looking forward to this journey, this reconnection to the source of my aliveness, and to sharing the journey with others. It makes such a  difference to support and be supported by others begin brave enough to pause and look a little deeper.

If you can join we’d love to have you, and if not I’ll be keeping you posted in my blogs about the experience.

Dealing with My Sh*t in a Sensory Deprivation Float Tank 

images-2This week I tried out the new Sydney Float Centre in Brookvale and admittedly felt nervous about booking my first appointment for an hour long sensory deprivation float tank session.

I’ve always struggled with claustrophobia, but being a yogi and meditator the curiosity to explore weightlessness with no external distractions and gaze inward without the need to adjust a cushion or ignore noises intrigued me enough to get past my fear.

The first four of the eight limbs of yoga aim to prepare us for meditation. The breath, movement, diet and lifestyle of a yogi steer us in the direction of finding inner stillness, which leads to the last four limbs, all focused on meditation.

“Withdrawal of the Senses,” or Pratyahara (the fifth limb) bridges our consciousness from external awareness to internal awareness. It’s the first step of meditation and in an overly stimulated world it can be difficult to achieve. So when I heard about the new Sydney Float Centre in the Northern Beaches, boasting of taking people effortlessly into meditative states I knew I had to try it.

Meditation, Floating and Theta Brainwaves 

Floating, just like meditation, brings people into a theta brain wave state where we are very relaxed but not sleeping, aware but not overly active. We’re in the in-between consicousness, like lucid dreaming. It’s believed that in this theta state we process the experiences of our day and life.

The Ayurvedic system looks at all experiences as consumption, as if we’re eating all the things we hear, see, smell, touch and interact with. We internalise all of it, and just like food we must digest all of life.

Digesting our food means breaking it down, taking up needed nutrients and then eliminating that which is not needed, the waste. And when we don’t eliminate the waste from what we’ve consumed, well, we feel pretty shitty (pun intended).

Yoga and Ayurveda teach us how to digest all parts of our life as best as possible, not just food. But, just like eating food, if we don’t eliminate or let go of the parts of our life that don’t serve us, we end up getting emotionally constipated, and well…feeling pretty shitty.

So much of the healing power of mindfulness relaxation practices like meditation, yoga or floating come from the ability to bring us into the theta brainwave state where we can process and release the experiences of our life.

Sadly, many of us live lives where we don’t take the time on a regular basis to mentally and emotionally let go of the waste. Creating a practice of this is a curtail part of living a healthy life as is actively cleaning out the waste that’s creating blocks within you.

Yoga style detox focuses on cleansing not just with regards to food, but in all areas of our life. In the New Years Yoga Detox starting next Friday we’ll create time, space and systems to process and eliminate physically as well as mentally and emotionally.

Processing In the Float Tank

As soon as I stepped into the room with the alien looking float pod I had a mini freak out about being stuck inside, but Paul the xviyzafe01ilsay40gqicentre directer assured me I was in control of environment at all times.

So I took a deep breath and stepped into the tank and closed the lid. After the first few minutes of nervousness and talking down my claustrophobic feelings I was able to let go and really relax in the  9ft by 6ft spaceship looking pod filled with a water solution of over 500kgs of epsom salt that held me in an anti-gravity feeling float.

Because the water is kept at 35.5 degrees, considered skin-receptor neutral, I started to loose sense of where my skin ended and the water started.

I turned the lights out on the pod, closed the lid to the tank, and in the sound-proof, light-proof room my sense of external world started to dissolve and the awareness of my inner reality became extremely heightened.

I could feel myself slipping into a deep meditative state and enhanced it by using body scanning and deep breathing techniques. I watched as my body, completely free from the pressure of gravity, let go and released tension in areas I didn’t even realise I was holding it. And then I began to watch my mind do the same.

Thoughts, emotions, fears, memories started coming up and there was nothing to distract me from seeing them, feeling them and then just staying in a state of witnessing and experience them past through me until I dissolved back into a state of feeling held and relaxed.

At the end of the session I felt like I was still floating. I felt lighter and could hear my voice sounded more relaxed and at ease. The experience of letting go of all effort, physically and mentally took me to a deep theta wave length state and the crucial act of releasing that which was blocking my system just happened naturally.

More Ways to Experience Theta Brain Waves

  • Meditation
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Deep Breathing, Pranayama
  • Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga
  • Floating
  • Massage & energy work like Reiki
  • Chanting

Only 4 spots left for the Bali Spirit Retreat I’ll be leading April 1-7

Inquire Here

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Losing Goal Mojo Already? 

set-achievable-goals-660x393

It’s the middle of January and you might still be on the motivation high of new intentions and goals. But, if you’ve already felt that little twinge of resistance and low motivation creep up, or know it’s coming, you’ll want to read the rest of this blog.

And, you’ll want to know losing motivation is normal, but that doesn’t mean your doomed to drop your goal.

Over the past decade plus of being in the health and wellness industry I’ve worked with thousands of people and heard all about their health aspirations, frustrations and challenges.

I’ve seen people rush to change their life 180 degrees to only crash and burn a short while later.

I’ve seen how nearly everyone struggles with consistency of practice.

I’ve heard people tell me they want to get healthier, stronger, clearer, meditate more, do more yoga, eat better, sleep better, just feel better…but they just don’t know where to begin.

I’ve heard a lot of people tell me about their self esteem issues and how trying to make positive change in their life ends up making them feel not good enough and even worse about themselves.

The truth is, I myself have struggled with all of these issues.

I’ve also seen and experienced breakthroughs. 

I’ve seen people totally transform their health and happiness, make leaps and bounds of progress along the path of living a happier more liberated and energised life and find lasting, lifestyle change through the yoga path.

I know I’ve also found this, and when I look back over 5, 10, 15 years I really see how much the practice and wisdom of yoga has changed my life.

I know one thing, the healthier I am the happier I am — and I know that we all feel this way.

So, why when this is so obvious, do we struggle starting and sticking to the habits that make us feel healthy and happy?

There are a lot of answers to this question, and lots of debate, so maybe the better question is: What works? What makes us stick to the goals and habits we want? What are the people having breakthroughs doing?

While studying for my yoga health coaching certification we learned a lot about the latest research on habit science, a field dedicated to answering just these questions, and I gained some really valuable insights into why some parts of the yoga path work so well. Two of which I want to share with you to stay on track with your intentions for the year.

Identity Based Goals v Results Based Goals 

The habit science research shows that when we start with identity based goals we’re much much more likely to stick to them. Where as if we set just results based goals we’re highly likely to drop them after a while.

Here’s what James Clear, a habit science blogger says about it and why the two have very different impacts on us:

“What we do now is a mirror image of the type of person we believe we are (either consciously or subconsciously). Our current behaviours are simply a reflection of our current identity. So, the first step in building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new positive identity.”

Sankalpa is a traditional part of yoga practice that helps us create identity based goals by making positive affirmation like, “I am vibrant, clear and grounded.” The practice is to repeat this daily.

The more you chew on this identity, the more you not only believe it, but also act based on it. You start to live up to that identity effortlessly simply because it feels right, and this guides you toward achieving your heartfelt desires and goals.

SET A SANKALPA:

1. Know that you already are who you need to be to fulfil your life’s purpose.

You are good enough! Yoga philosophy recognises that we each have a shinning light of divine power and wisdom within us, called our purusa, and most of our yoga practices simply work to get rid of anything covering that light. Yoga is the process of purification and getting rid of the gunk (mental, physical, emotional or lifestyle) that dims the light (one reason we detox).

Unlike typical resolutions that are based around a need to change ourselves, a sankalpa reinforces the best of who we already are – our true nature.

2. Ask, “how do I want to feel?” Listen to your heart-felt desires.

“We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We go after the stuff we want to have and accomplish outside of ourselves, and we hope and pray that we’ll feel great when we get there. It’s backwards. And it’s burning us out. 

What if, first, we got clear on how we actually want to feel in our life, and then we set our intentions?” Danielle Laporte, Desire Map

Let your vision of yourself and the world be big, and think about who and how you want to be in that vision. How does it makes you feel? Begin to list qualities of that vision and observe how your heart space feels as you list them. Some will deeply resonate with you, write them down.

3. Create a positive “I am” statement using a few of the words that most resonate from above. 

Looking at the qualities from above as well as some of the intentions you’ve already set, can you find an underlying desire that unifies them all?  Now make that an ‘I am’ statement in the present tense. For example, “I am happy, healthy and peaceful.” Don’t worry too much about the wording, this statement will likely change over time, but find a simple clear statement to start with that feels good when you say it.

I am…

This statement will anchor you in your true light and guide you through specific goal setting as well as moment to moment decisions — and keep you feeling how you want to feel!

PRACTICE: Repeat this statement before and/or after yoga/mediation. Paste it on sticky notes around your house. Repeat it to yourself when you feel down/anxious/overwhelmed etc.

Tips From the Habit Experts & Common Mistakes to Avoid 

  • Set a schedule for your goals rather than a deadline. “There is one common mistake we make when it comes to setting goals. The problem is this: we set a deadline, but not a schedule.The problem with this strategy is that if we don’t achieve the arbitrary timeline that we set in the beginning, then we feel like a failure…even if we are better off than we were at the start. The end result, sadly, is that we often give up if we don’t reach our goal by the initial deadline.” -James Clear
  • Make it so easy you can’t say no. Often we make our goals so big that when we set out to act on them they feel so daunting we give up. If we start with small steps that we can’t say no to then we actually act on our intentions and move in the direction we desire. Over time we’ll reach that big goal without getting overwhelmed. Small, continuous change = success & sustainability!

Yoga has taught me that all things are a practice, and it’s through coming back again and again to the practice that we find real change in our body, mind, health, relationships and life.

Adjust your goals to make sure they come from your heart, your core values, and then make a step by step plan that is so easy you can’t say no.

I use these principles in all of my programs, from the New Years Yoga Detox, 30 Day Evolution and 10 Week Transformation, and the results are powerful!

“You’re audacious life goals are fabulous. We’re proud of you for having them. Bit it’s possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that’s really frightening you — the shift in daily habits that would mean a reinvention of how you see yourself.” Seth Godin

NEW YEARS DETOX STARTS JAN 30

 

HEALTHY-LIFESTYLE-CHOICES

Reverse the Bucket List, Find Out What You Really Want

imagesWe’ve turned the corner on yet another year and based many of the conversations I’ve had it sounds like 2014 was a big one for a lot of you. Let’s just stop an appreciate that!

If you’re like me and get super stoked on new visions, ideas and plans, it’s easy to race into the next thing full speed ahead, heels on fire with the feelings of possibility and hope. But if we race past our chance to digest the experiences we’ve had, we can miss the whole point of racing toward them in the first place.

At a conference I went to recently I was introduced to the idea of a reverse bucket list as a way to practice greater contentment, happiness and gratitude. I love the idea!

Basically, instead of making a bucket full of things you want to accomplish, you create a bucket list of things you’ve already done. So I decided to make a reverse bucket list of all I’ve accomplished, gained and experienced in 2014, and wow, not only did my gratitude levels go way up, but I also got some really clear guidance for this next year.

As I wrote this list I realised “accomplishment” meant anything I felt proud about doing. Some of it was sexy and exciting like teaching retreats in Bali, exploring New Zealand or successfully developing and teaching new programs. Other things were less sexy, but powerful accomplishments non the less, like getting out of a relationship that not longer served me and actively working through some of my long held limiting beliefs.

Once I wrote that list I made another list that simply said, “How did all of these things make me feel?”

I’m reading a fantastic book right now called “The Desire Map” by Danielle Laporte. She says, “Knowing how you want to feel is the most potent clarity you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerful thing you can do with your life.”

Looking at my 2014 bucket list and really reflecting on how each of those things made me feel clarified how I want to feel, as well as how I don’t want to feel. Words like empowered, connected, inspired, focused, expansive, creative, wiser, discerning popped up…but when I got really honest with my self, so did words like tired, stressed and ungrounded.

My fiery heels are already making plans for 2015, but I’m pulling the reins in a little to ask if these goals I’m racing toward actually generate the feelings and lifestyle I truly long for.

About a year ago I was listening to a lecture my Ayurvedic teacher gave on what’s called the wisdom body in Yoga, the Visnamayakosha. She suggested a simple daily practice to stay in touch with the wisdom body— at the end of each day ask, “What did I learn today, and how can I use that wisdom tomorrow?” I wrote this in big letters on a piece of paper and tacked it to the pin board next to my bed (it always seems to get bigger at just the right moments).

I decided to make one more list for 2014 based on this, “What did I learn in the past year, and how can I use this wisdom in this upcoming year?”

Some of my bullet points include:

  • Trust my intuition
  • Speak my truth
  • Find work/life balance
  • Create schedules
  • Believe in myself
  • Simplify
  • Give from my heart

Taking the time to reflect on the past year can reveal what our deeper desires are and if our methods for achieving them actually work or where we can adjust our perspective and actions. It’s a perfect way to prep for intention setting for 2015.

I’m teaching two FREE workshops this Sunday all about how to set new years resolutions from the heart based on yogic principles (see details below). One at 8am at the Lululemon store in Warringah Mall, and one at 2pm at Qi Yoga Freshwater Studio. Hope to see you there! Feel free to drag a friend along if you can, they’re community events so the more the merrier.

If you can’t make it this Sunday, no worries, I’ll be blogging on the topic next week. In the mean time, get out a pen and paper and see what your reverse bucket list for 2014 teaches you!

Make a Reverse Bucket List for 2014

  1. Make a list off all that you’ve accomplished and experienced in the last year
  2. Make a list of how all those things made you feel
  3. Ask, “What did I learn in the past year, and how can I use that wisdom in this upcoming year?”

Resolution.Poster.2015