Breathe

Co-authored by John Zappanta

 Did you know that most Americans are shallow breathers that tend to breathe with approximately the top 10% of their lungs? How do you breathe? How can you tell?  Benefits of deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing have been shown to improve exercise capacity, core strength, decrease stress, and increase overall well-being.  So let’s start using the other 90% of our lungs!

Good respiration allows you to fill your lungs to their fullest to allow maximal oxygen exchange and maximal exercise capacity.  At birth we know how to breathe. Newborns and infants are beautiful examples of an effortless rise and fall of the abdomen. What distorts this effortless breath?

Abnormal respiration arises from various factors including cardiopulmonary diseases, musculoskeletal problems, and life related factors like stress and tension. These factors cause effortful and shallow breathing that overuse the muscles of the neck, upper back and chest limiting oxygen exchange to muscles and lowering capacity for everyday activities and exercise. However, by looking into your own patterns and understanding the breathing process you can regain your ease.

Respiration is the process of breathing that consists of two steps: Inspiration (inhalation) and Expiration (exhalation). During inspiration muscles around the ribs and the diaphragm muscle contract in unison to enlarge the chest wall allowing the lungs to expand with air. When we exhale the ribs and diaphragm muscle relax returning the chest wall to its normal position, consequently squeezing the air out. Simultaneously, the deep muscles of the stomach, especially the transversus abdominis muscle, contract to assist with releasing air from the lungs.


The benefits of deep breathing include strengthening abdominal muscles and a decrease or prevention of back pain, which the latest research shows is tied to proper activation of the diaphragm and transverse abdominis muscles. These seemingly ordinary muscles that help fill the lungs create stabilization to the low back through pressure changes and attachments to the spinal column. You too can have stability and take control of your pain via practice.

For thousands of years the Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, and yoga practices have incorporated deep core breathing as a focal point in care and practice to regulate the nervous system response to activity. To engage your diaphragm place one hand over your stomach and the other hand over your chest. Breathe in slowly allowing your stomach to rise, but ensure your chest remains relaxed. Breathe out slowly and draw your belly button towards your spine as if you were trying to make your stomach 1-2” smaller.

Once you practice, incorporate awareness of your breathing or mindfulness. Notice how you breathe throughout the day by checking in during different activities.  If you are not breathing fully, begin incorporating deep core breaths into each of your movements—think “one breath, one movement”.  Inhale on the easier phase of your movement and exhale fully on the more challenging aspect like lifting or twisting for the best results.

The expiration will engage core musculature, improve back health, and can improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being via release of carbon dioxide and other chemicals. In turn, the breath stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is involved in recovery and re-establishing baseline functions of the body, effectively preventing acid build up, muscle tension, decreasing heightened emotional states and pain perception.

So what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath.

How to perform active core deep breathing while lying down:

http://youtu.be/cA1Cbv73BIE

How to perform active core deep breathing while standing up:

http://youtu.be/fyQmwC9KLyo

Thank you to Dr. John Zapanta, Physical Therapist, and Kate Wrightson, Yoga Practitioner, for their contributions to this article. For more information, workshops and videos on how to perform an active deep breathe visit ColPTs.com and livebeyondlimit.com.

 

Manifestation - How to Do It

Have you ever heard or known anyone talking about “manifesting” one thing or another in his or her life and wondered what they were talking about or thought they were nuts? Today I’m going to be one of those people. 

I had the delightful experience of the perfect standby flight.  Taking a little bit of a chance with a friend, we had standby employee tickets to fly into New Orleans.  Everyone told me how much of an adventure this endeavor could be with two people trying to get onto the same flight and even the person traveling with me and the pilot that gave us the tickets both were worrying about the flight being really full and making checklists of all the calls that would need to be made should we not make it.  I however, being the free spirit I am, decided weeks ago when I heard about the trip that we’d get on the first flight we tried and that it would be smooth sailing.  I continued to hold this resolve and guess what happened? We got on the first flight due to several people that didn't show up. How wonderful and extraordinary.

So to go back to the initial question, manifesting is, simply put, making things happen via attracting and fostering the energy of that occurrence.

Everything has a unique and yet similar energy or vibration. The physical and intangible worlds consist of energy moving around, exchanging, and interacting through space via connections. Connections are what make things happen whether it’s the pulse of blood flowing through your veins, communication of one human to another, interspecies communication, the flight of a plane above the Earth’s crust or any other thing you could possibly imagine, including your imagination.

Therefore, we can alter the connections we have and come across by putting off the vibrations via our thoughts and true feelings to actually alter the environment inside and around you to be more hospitable to the exact thing you desire. Manifesting thus must begin as a concrete knowing with every bit of your being that something will happen, so that your mind, body and emotions are putting off a constant message and magnetic like pull to turn that something into reality.

Sometimes we are able to manifest things quite quickly in our lives and sometimes it takes a little while to see our dreams as realities. Regardless of speed, to manifest anything it takes firm elimination of doubt and the development of innate knowingness on the subconscious level.  Key words: subconscious level. Unfortunately, we can’t simply say, think, write and act like something is going to happen if deep down you feel stuck, lost, doubtful, insecure, or any other feeling that rejects the end result you’re looking for. 

This is where it all gets tricky.  If you've seen things repeatedly happen in your life that you DON’T want and wish to create the things you DO want, I recommend starting with the yogic principle of svadhyaya, which in previous articles has been revealed to be the art of self-study and inquiry. Being mindful of your existence in thoughts, actions, and presence will help you find the missing link and garbled encoding of your conscious desires and subconscious beliefs.  

Have no clue where to start the study? Try these few exercises:

  1. Meditate on your breath.  Inhale for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts and repeat for 5-10 minutes. Any time your mind wanders from focusing on your inhale or exhale within that time frame, notice or acknowledge where it goes and then go right back to focusing on your breathing.

  2. Journal.  If there is something you’re particularly interested in discovering about yourself sit down with a pencil and paper or at your computer and write. Write whatever comes to mind about the subject—even if it starts out as “I have no idea what to say about this or where to start or why these things are happening..etc, etc, etc.”  The very act of writing will start to lead you somewhere and at least give you a glimmer of where you’re stuck so you can look back on it and find a way out.

  3. Start looking at every event in your life as a wonderful opportunity and make sure to clarify what the opportunity was—even the ones that don’t feel that good. You’ll learn a lot about how you view the world, what makes you thrive and what makes you react defensively.  All of these can be keys to opening up the subconscious motives that pulse outward.


Enjoy the journey and next time someone starts talking about manifesting, maybe you’ll be able to join in with your own story!

If you have questions or would like help figuring out how to work towards and manifest your dreams, please do not hesitate to leave comments or contact me directly at katew@livebeyondlimit.com or (757) 784-7327.

The Beginning

yoga fort collins

 

 

 

The morning light, the rising sun, the fire in our souls.

The dew condensing, the ocean strong, the blood within us tolls.

We must listen to that little voice, pure, persistent and so real.

Listen, dear, with all your heart for your intuition will heal.

yoga retreats

Be what you may, be what you like, just be for the sake of art.

You are precious, my love, with all your truths so know you play a part.

The cosmos ask for honest pursuit of the consciousness within.

Allow only for greatness in your life and know the rest begins.

 

-Kate

New Understanding: Physical, Emotional & Energetic

Six years ago today it was a Thursday. Six years ago I left Trybz Martial Arts from training with a dear friend, Sebastian, and a very distinct idea of how my following week was going to go. Six years ago, I received a wonderfully loud and tragic blessing from the Universe. I was involved in a 3 car hit-and-run accident on South Shields and Prospect in Fort Collins, CO. I walked away a different lady. I walked away terrified, injured and feeling lost but with an underlying sense of calm, understanding and determination.

Why me? Why after years of working SO HARD to get my body back into a stable place (a story for another time) was I involved in such a horrible car accident and have my physical, emotional and mental stability destroyed?  Why would the universe give me such a torturous and devastating event and aftermath to deal with? Have you ever felt this way?

Why? Exactly because of the above tone and attitude I had possessed prior to the event. The attitude that the world was happening to me. That I was filling an "extra" in the play we call life. I needed that rude awakening to realize that I was happening to the world and that I needed to refine my skills, learn to be patient, compassionate, forgiving and figure out what I really am meant to share with the world. Yes. That's your journey too.

The journey to my and your discovery? Long. Hard. Torturous. Fear ridden. Painful. Tearful. Hysterical. Frustrating. Agonizing. Joyous. Contemplative. Freeing.

 

Almost immediately I learned that my "friends" weren't really all that great or supportive. (Sound familiar?) I found kindness in my family and support in co-workers (Thanks Sheryl!). I found a new depth to my self-study (svadhyaya in Sanskrit) both on and off the mat. I woke up very suddenly. I had to. I was faced with the choice to wallow in my situation at the bottom of the pit with water flooding in or climb the hell up and see where that wall led. It was a big, wonderful shift and I'm always here to help you all make that climb too.

Get ready for the long haul if you really want to see the big and lasting changes.  I personally have spent years of daily rehabilitation getting my range of motion back. The beginning of that fateful day I had full range of motion in my legs to have my face pressed between my knees in a forward fold....the next morning? I could literally hinge forward about 2 inches-leaving quite a few between me and my thighs.  Today? Almost back to those thighs.

My neck and jaw stability I had found after years of work with the amazing Dr. Oglesby in Virginia was destroyed that night. I shattered the temporomandibular joint repositioning device he and I spent literally years adjusting to find stability and functional neurological activity in a matter of weeks after the accident.  I'm STILL working on finding that stability with the assistance of Dr. Keller here in Fort Collins (thank goodness such a wonderful skilled individual is in this area) and continue to do daily therapy and energetic work to promote stability and uninterrupted cognitive, visual and tactile functioning. 

The jaw will stabilize when my spine stabilizes, which again, is a daily battle and challenge. Since I've become a reiki and thoroughly deepened my meditation and mantra practices, I've had remarkable advanced in healing, which is why I share these skills with you too. I can't say I'm 100% yet, but I surely am on an accelerated fast track and I'd like to put you on that same track to fulfilling your goals.  I have been able to drop my pelvis into a neutral position, my thoracic spine is slowly working back into a normal kyphosis (opposed to the lordosis/concave look with a nice curve and the extra twists the accident gave it) and my C-5 is finally decompressing some, thus allowing my cervical spine (neck) to slowly work back into a neutral curve. Patience is a virtue. Start repeating that mantra to yourself now because the patience is worth the outcome.

This new understanding of energy has thrown me into a new pool of philosophy, energetics, intimacy and joy.  It's expanded my somewhat bound Western mind and brought in the ancient energies from Reiki, Tantra, Yoga and ancient civilizations' understanding of life, our role and the universal reflection around us. The experience has given me a deeper look into my true nature and it's been absolutely blissful and exciting beyond the reaches of my physical body.

The accident and journey since has given me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone on my own to make this creation, Live Beyond Limit, a true reality and service for the world. While my start is small, I look forward to every and any impact I may have to help support individuals and groups with their goals, ease the changes of life and welcome self-empowerment to all those I cross-paths with. This is the awesome experience and opportunity I have been blessed and gifted with in this time and in this life.  What gifts do you have? How can you help yourself, the world, your co-workers, your friends, acquaintances and family members?

My response to the very loud Universal message and occasional "setbacks" with my health and stability? GAME ON. I will persevere. Will you?



How do I stay motivated and positive? Take a look below and adopt a few of these points for yourself:

Padma Mudra
  • I acknowledge how far I've come DAILY.

  • I keep reminding myself to BREATHE.

  • I keep reminding myself that I could be miserable OR I could have a freaking fantastic day and choose the latter.

  • I consciously practice good posture. I check in with it ALL day.

  • I let go of negative thought patterns and replace them with positive statements.

  • I surround myself with GOOD spirits and people.

  • I welcome healing on a daily basis.

  • I let go of those individuals, activities and employers that don't make my heart sing.

  • I believe in myself and my innate ability to be great and make a difference regardless of circumstance.



What event in your life has left you paralyzed or empowered? Are you happy and grateful with where you are right now?

I'd love to hear your stories! If you're looking for a boost in your current life situation, contact me for a free consultation and remember to keep checking back for new information or visit the Live Beyond Limit Facebook page for free daily motivation, tips and tricks!

 

 

Attending the First Yoga Class

You’ve decided to take your first yoga class and we all can admit that is a little scary, intimidating and uncomfortable.  Some questions that may be running through your head before, during, and after are probably:

“I’m not flexible enough. Am I going to look silly? I’m supposed to do what? This stretch hurts! How am I supposed to relax when I’m doing that?! Am I going to fart? What did she just say? Am I doing it right? Oh yeah, breathe, I’m supposed to breathe. Why did I come here?  “

Don’t worry, everyone experiences these reactions their first time. Time after time individuals are off-put by their experiences and take their first and last yoga class on the same day, but you don’t have to be one of them! Here are some tips to help you have a more enjoyable experience:

First off, you do NOT HAVE TO DO WHAT THE INSTRUCTOR INSTRUCTS as long as you are respecting yourself and everyone else. It is your class and experience, not theirs. Sit quietly, do a pose you love, or even lay down and know that all of those options are awesome and beautiful and respected by yoga practitioners.

Know that there are three stages to learning and your first, second, third and beyond classes fall into the first category.

Practitioner Level and Corresponding Learning Stage

1)       Beginner – Cognitive -- Fight or flight; feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, lots of
            thoughts

2)       Intermediate -- Associative – A little more comfort and confidence, still actively
            learning

3)       Advanced –Autonomous—Meditative practice with feelings of connection, full
            balance, and relaxation through strength


Again, you’re in the first category so be patient with yourself and try to relax as much as you can. GIVE IT A FEW TRIES AND TRY A FEW DIFFERENT TEACHERS. It’s like learning a new language – it will be really hard unless you have a decent teacher. Only after taking many classes and a lot of practice will a student move on to the second and eventually the third stages of learning for yoga.

WEAR CLOTHES YOU CAN MOVE AND FEEL COMFORTABLE IN. The more comfortable you feel, the more you will be able to focus on how to do the postures and what you are feeling. Also, think about a hand towel and a water bottle, they’ll come in handy. Many teachers or studios will have mats available, but if you want your own you can get them almost any general department or sporting goods store.

TALK TO YOUR INSTRUCTOR BEFORE CLASS if you have any significant health concerns (heck, even if you don’t!). This can help them tailor their instruction to your needs.  Your yoga instructors are there to help you and WANT to help you with your practice and they certainly want you to leave feeling great about class. The more we know about you and your experiences, the better teachers we can be.

YOGA IS MORE THAN STRETCHING. Be prepared to sweat, breathe and let go of more than just tight muscles. The more open and determined you are to feel great in class, the more likely it will be a wonderful experience taking you to intermediate and advanced stages which yield much greater health benefits including improved immune system functioning, increased cognition, balance of hormones, improved lung function and more. If you feel horribly trying to get to the “ideal” yoga posture, is that really going to help you with the desired effect? Just remind yourself to feel and go to places that feel good.

It is called a “practice” because you have to put in the work and “PERFECT" is something that DOES NOT EXIST. That’s right – there is no perfect. Yoga is a system of how to connect to your mind, body, soul and surroundings and so that is going to look different for everyone as we all have a unique perspective and energy.

There you have it, now that you are equipped with a little more information to make your experience authentic and much less stressful.  Take a few deep breaths before class and embrace the world of yoga and all the wonderful benefits that are waiting for you!

Intimacy: Finding, being and celebrating your highest self

Intimacy

Intimacy. What does that even mean?  Through my studies I have come to experience and be grateful for the following simple definition: in to me, I see (Thank you, Nan!) Diving a little deeper, intimacy is the deep relationship with our internal selves and all those who cross our paths on a daily basis.  It is the deep internal look and external realization that absolutely everyone, yes even that person that drives us crazy, has something to offer us in regards to growth and our existence because they reflect us.  Thus, everything is simply a projection of our perceptions and experiences. We create the pictures we see and experiences we endure.  

In my experience, healthy intimacy involves us seeing ourselves in our actions and building each other up so that we may all find our best selves via intellect, experience, emotion and sexuality. Intimacy is opening oneself to greater opportunity to be loved and cared for by both the internal and external worlds. When we open ourselves to true intimacy – without judgments, attachments and expectations — we truly free ourselves.

It is amazing at what a single glance, smile, touch or laugh can do to the soul. It can literally be the Agni, or fire, to change the tone of not just the moment but also an entire day, week, year or even a lifetime.  Why is this? What does such a little act actually do?  Those acts extend far beyond the surface. The actions and thoughts we put out and surround ourselves with affect our etheric, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies and literally alter and influence our energetic patterns ranging from the chemical processes in our bodies to our mental thought patterns and emotional experiences. 

Literally every action and thought has a physical and tangible chemical cascade throughout our bodies. The more we receive a stimulus, the more our cells are conditioned to the appropriate response and reception of different neurotransmitters and proteins.  Energetically, we create patterns within our bodies and can start to warp our chakras, or energy centers, and sometimes we even bind them to other individuals.

This is what makes change so hard – we actually have to teach and condition our bodies on how to disconnect from current patterns and be receptive to other chemistry and energy, which is no easy task.

Our intentions, thoughts and actions are literally some of the most powerful powers we possess. You may not even realize it, but sometimes our personal intentions are absolutely horrific.  Then we ask why oh why do things keep falling apart around me? Why can’t I have a break? Why is the whole world out to get me? 

Svadhyaya, or self-study, is the Sanskrit term to help promote the realization of our best selves and maintain homeostasis in our bodies. We can use this same tool to help redirect our samskaras (think of these as old habits and patterns) and bring about a favorable homeostasis when we are out of balance.

I’ve been learning this in the past years after a series of events in my life left me closing myself off to most nurturing and fair relationships and interactions. I’m pleased to tell you that I’ve had the best time figuring out that my initial beliefs were bogus and how free I feel now that I have unyoked myself from them.

After a nasty car accident shook things up in my life 8 months after moving to Colorado, completely throwing off my homeostasis, I deepened my studies of the body, mind and spirit and the practice of svadhyaya. I started working with a Reiki (bless you, Michael) and realized that I had locked emotions from the past traumas and that I was finding present day energetic ways to relive the pain and suffering.

Empowered with this knowledge, I began down a path of affirmation, meditation, mantra and practice to help relieve the locked traumas, physiological imbalances and energetic disturbances. I have been able to free myself from a destructive cycle and affirm my current goals, paths and contentment.

So go ahead and step back from yourself for a moment. Become the witness to your own existence. Yes, the witness.  Be truthful with yourself and others and ask yourself:

 

Yoga Retreat Bali
  • Do I know what I am projecting?
  • Do I know what my intentions are with each action I take?
  • Am I creating harm? If so, am I doing a good job at minimizing it for all parties?
  • Am I uplifting and supporting others as I wish to be?
  • What are my personal intentions?
  • Am I happy with my situation?
  • Do I love myself?
  • And here’s the kicker: if every little bit of my life other than myself changed, would I be happy with myself? Would I still feel content and joyful?

 

If the answer is “no,” don’t worry. You can get there. Remember, the outside world is a reflection of your interior world, so the more chaos there is within, the more life is going to kick you in the rear and make it that much harder for you to get to where you want to be. Once the internal world starts to change, that’s when the external world agrees to support the change and the real magic starts to happen.

 

I leave you with the following affirmations that have been extremely helpful to me as I continue my own studies and build my own arsenal of nurturing experiences:

“I free myself of my past, operate in the now and strive to build a beautiful future for the community and myself. I open myself to all healing intimate relationships and interactions. I open myself to touching my heart and synchronizing with another’s. I relish sharing a touch, a glance, a smile, and/or a laugh in the mutual recognition of our innate greatness. I am delighted in the partnerships and friendships that come as I fully embrace my inner goddess/god and the ability to bring out the best in my friends, family and community.”

Place all or portions of the above affirmations on a sticky note and put them on your mirror, your dash, or your office desk. Say it to yourself as many times a day as you are able and start looking for kind moments to share a glance, smile, laugh or touch.  Start to be the creator of your interior world and the shaper of your exterior.  Most importantly, have fun while you do. Laugh at the times that you find yourself getting stressed or frustrated. Smile. Enjoy. Live.

At some point in our lives we have all been sitting with friends, at the gym, in a yoga class, in academic classes or work, etc and our minds are somewhere else entirely. We spend that time in the past or future but seem to forget the present moment.This is what yoga and fitness are all about. They are about learning to truly love the moment and become in sync with yourself and environment at that very moment. 

There is a huge amount of empowerment and freedom that comes with letting go of past baggage. Not only does our physical body stop reacting to past emotions and starts tapping into the present and is able to adapt more for the future, but also our ability to see opportunities and different perspectives becomes great. You stop missing things because your mind was somewhere else.

The subject of presence makes me think of the Gorilla Study where radiologists were asked to look for tumors on a brain scan and then were asked if anything was wrong with the scan.  A whopping 83% missed a hidden gorilla (yes, a picture of a gorilla superimposed on the brain scan films) because it was not what they were looking for.  How much of life do you think you miss?

Try saying the following once a day for 7 days and see how your life changes:

The past is the past and will always be there to reflect and learn from.
The future holds only what you cultivate based off of your actions today, right now.
The present is a gift at this very moment and is meant to be lived and experienced with every breath .

EMBRACING STRENGTH, POWER AND OPPORTUNITY

Warrior 1

Embrace yourself today. Take a moment to set the intention to truly embrace all that you are - not all that society wants you to be.  Open yourself up to loving and befriending your shadow self, or the parts of you that you may have deemed unlovable, unacceptable, not ideal, etc.  Once we accept where we are in life, we can free ourselves of any cages or limits and continue to grow and expand with the support of our community and the amazing connections our "weaknesses" guide us towards.  

We all have our own talents. We all have our own drive.  Allow yours to compliment others and give each person you connect with today the opportunity to realize how awesome they are and how needed they are in this world as their truest being.

Enjoy the flow - feel the connection and embrace your strength. You're capable of amazing things!

~Kate

Embrace the Power and Healing via AcroYoga - see the highlighted TEDxUNC presentation from March 20, 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiGnKdVEHso&feature=youtu.be

 

AcroYoga Base Test

AcroYoga Base Test

Authored by: Jessica Schultz


Poses 3a and 3b teach the base to stay steady when the flyer lifts off.


3a   

BASE Stay on your back, stacking your feet over your hips.

FLYER Cross your forearms and stack them onto the base’s feet. You can make eye contact with your base to establish trust.

ALIGNMENT TIP

BASE: If your legs are too long compared with your flyer’s height, bend knees as necessary.

 

 

3b

FLYER Press your folded arms into your base’s feet and lift your legs off the ground.

BASE Straighten your legs into a 90-degree or L shape, stacking your feet over your hips for stability.

ALIGNMENT TIP

BASE: If your legs are tight and you can’t straighten them, try placing a folded blanket under your pelvis. Keep your knees slightly bent, with your heels directly over your hips.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is the connection of the self to the self, to put it simply.  It refers to being in sync with all aspects of yourself.

yoga classes fort collins

The word yoga means "to yoke" and refers to the yoking of mind, body, spirit, and emotion through practice and through life.  While some may view the "bendy" postures and development of physical flexibility as yoga, they often time overlook the understanding of the self that these postures are designed to reveal and the flexibility that is gained through developing continuity of the self via practice.  

Yoga traditionally has 8 limbs consisting of becoming aware and mastering how we interact with others, ourselves, our physical movement, our breath, internal awareness, focus, meditative capacity, and ability to be connected to peace and ease.  Mastery of the self can only happen once we finally accept who and what we are, what we're driven to, what we find pleasure in, and all of our "shadows" from our past or present.  

yoga retreats

Live Beyond Limit and more traditional studios aim to teach you all aspects of yoga so you can enjoy more ease, abundance, and joy in life via the practice of working with yourself on all levels. 

Yoga helps us learn to live fully, freely, and peacefully within ourselves and the world.

The Bliss of Living in the Now

Mindfulness

Research and practice show time and time again that mindfulness and living in the moment helps an individual to live with physiological and emotional stress.

According to studies and recommendations from Harvard, Oxford and UC Santa Barbara mindfulness and present living helps to reduce symptoms of stress, depression and addictions and enhances working memory and recall.  Pretty cool huh?  So why don't more of us partake in this wonderful practice? What does it even mean to "live in the now" or to practice being "mindful"? I get these questions a lot from clients and friends trying to minimize the chaos and unwanted events in their lives.

It's hard to live in the now because of the chemical and energetic imprints made as reactions to the stressors in your life. We are an overstressed and under-restored population as a whole.  Chemically we should bounce back to resting states quickly, but with our culture and social structure/interactions we have a hard time getting away from the stressors.

It's hard work to stay positive and stay in the moment of each and every experience.  It take practice....a lot of practice.  Happy, realistic and optimistic people choose to be that way.  They choose to focus on what they have and the things that are going well and use problem solving and stress management tools to cope and or change the things that are less than ideal.

In the moment individuals put the cup down and empty it after each interaction they have. Think of stress like this:

How much does a glass of water feel like it weighs?  How much does it weigh an hour later? A week? A year?  It progressively gets heavier and heavier and after enough time, your arm will give out from fatigue.  That's just like you're body! (Thanks to whomever originated this parallel).  

Therefore, if you have been in a stressful situation and you've left and moved on to the next event of your day, or the next day itself, forget about the stress source and focus on your new space and the tasks at hand.  Cycling through the situation, replaying or planning the next conversation and or allowing yourself to feel awful will only distract you from your present task, rob your happiness and leave you less productive and less pleasant to be around

Feel in the moment.  Notice what you're feeling and when you're feeling it so you can start molding your situations to help you feel great. This is the practice of self-study or svadhyaya.  Notice and change your perspective or walk away from the things that make you feel awful. Engage more frequently in the situations that make you feel free, joyful and celebrated.

Be aware.  If things turn sour in a situation ask yourself "What happened? Am I being defensive? If so, why am I being defensive?  Did the mood shift because of something I said or did? Do people move away from me or towards me?"  Look to yourself in a situation first and foremost, and only if you realize that it wasn't you evaluate what you'll do about the company you're in to ensure that you are able to stay present, mindful and engaged in healthy relationships and actions.

Lastly, but certainly not least, focus on the good stuff that is happening in the moment.  Every situation has two sides, so instead of stressing about the less than ideal conditions, enjoy the great ones. Enjoy your senses, nature, company and the things that surround you each moment.

The Yamas - Ahimsa

Yoga Yamas

The Yamas are the first "limb" of yoga as concluded by Pantanjali, a famous sage who brought together the teachings behind yoga in his compilation The Yoga Sutras.  

These social observances are boiled down principles to govern your actions, motives, and behaviors as you interact not only with yourself, but with your community. We will look closely at ahimsa today, or non-harming. 

Ahimsa:  Non-Harming/ Non-Violence

Ahimsa is simply practicing to reduce physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and spiritual harm and violence.  This yama requests that you take a look at your actions and see how you can live more symbiotically with your community in order to foster health and vitality around you instead of harm and destruction.  

Practicing ahimsa in your words means using intentional communication.  Intentional communication considers all factors going into the exchange to ensure that the intention of the words spoken are able to be received and understood fully. 

 

Examples:

•   Communicate intentionally by asking: Is it true? Is it necessary? Can it be spoken to minimize harm?

•   Try to go organic – your money gives energy to the industry standards you accept

•   Buy local produce and products to minimize the use of petrochemicals in transport while boosting local economy.

•   Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is when your body recovers and rehydrates from the day prior

•   Use compassion with those who are unhappy or suffering

•   Release judgments of yourself and others

•   Create strong boundaries for yourself and others to respectfully operate within