Archive for the ‘office yoga’ Category

Daily Yoga Tools

One of my corporate yoga clients recently invited me to their daily morning meeting to introduce the entire office to yoga.  I was given 2-4 minutes to do my yoga spiel.  My mind was cluttered with “what to do” given there is so much to yoga – philosophy, history, asana, meditation, ethical principles, pranayama, etc.  Keep in mind everyone is in business suits and dress shoes –neither being conducive to a true yoga experience.

Sticking with one of my personal mantras “simplicity is key” I thought what are two yoga tools everyone can practice daily without stepping on a yoga mat?  Breathing and standing tall (Tadasana).

By becoming more conscious of breath and aware of posture, you can slowly start to ease your body of unnecessary tension and create space in your mind so you’re more able to take on whatever your day throws your way.  Take a breath in and out before responding in a heated discussion.  Rather than getting impatient as you stand in line for your morning coffee, practice breathing techniques (those appropriate for the general public) and standing tall.  Stuck in traffic?  Practice sitting tall and again, tap into the energy of your breath to calm your mind and comfort your body.

The stresses of life are always going to exist, but you’re in control of how you react.  One of my favorite quotes says it all “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”.

Services to Ease your Life in 2009

As a yogi, an easy way to practice the ethical principle of ahimsa (non-violence) towards the environment is to actively cut down your junk mail.  If you’re not sure how to do this start here… CatalogChoice and GreenDimes

I’ve reviewed both services and personally opted to go with Catalog Choice.  Sure it’s a little more work but I get the benefit of proactively managing what comes to my mail slot.  And it doesn’t cost me anything but a few minutes of my time.  Time Magazine recently ran an article on the junk mail topic.  For more, click here.

Realizing that not everyone practices asteya (non-stealing/non-coveting), it’s up to you to protect your credit file and reduce your chances of becoming a fraud victim.  Monthly I pay IdentityGuard to watch my name and credit.  Any accounts that are closed, opened or even peeked at are immediately brought to my attention.  I highly recommend this peace-of-mind service.

Lastly for a mini-break from the daily grind, visit DailyOM for some inspiration when you can’t make it to your yoga mat.  I discovered this site a few years back while working in the corporate office environment.  I use to receive their emails daily to provide me with a little solace in the midst of the office chaos.  Now I just visit the homepage of my website, abellaYoga.com, to enjoy it.

What I Believe

I believe my life will be long.  I believe there’s a purpose for me being here.  I believe I am on a journey to help others.  I believe I will have many side trips on my life’s journey.

I believe I haven’t figured out my life’s mission.  Though I believe what I am doing today (my current side trip), is what I should be doing –teaching yoga in people’s homes and offices.  I believe there are some people in the D.C./Arlington/Alexandria, VA area who want to try yoga but can’t make it to the yoga studio due to the stresses of city living, daily commuting, family responsibilities, work travel, etc.  I believe we are in charge of our priorities and some are more able to make the yoga studio a priority.

When I look back on the strong beliefs I’ve held, most of the ones I’ve pursued have supported me.  I believed there was more to my life than a 9-5 job.  I believed that serving corporate shareholders was not my destiny.  I believed I had more to offer.  I believed in my beauty and power as an individual and yogini.  And I believe there’s so much more, I just need to keep journeying and more beauty and power will be revealed.

What do you believe?  Do you listen to your beliefs?  If not, why?

Writing from the Heart

Even though I never enjoyed writing, I started this yoga blog as a fun way to communicate with my students.  Of course I wondered, would people read it?  What would I write on a regular basis?

Shockingly, a lot of people actually like what I write.  Who knew my yoga off the mat would be interesting or even the least bit inspirational.  Who knew so many people, including my grandparents (Grandmom and Pop-Pop) and yogis from around the world, would be avid readers and comment on things I write.  Lastly, who knew I would be asked to review yoga products and promote them on my little yoga blog.  In fact, I’ve even been offered money to do so multiple times.

I have kept it my policy not to advertise on my blog.  I’ve turned down a few paid offers to post/promote other companies/websites, as I believe it would change the dynamic of this blog.  I like being “homegrown”, small and personal.  Frankly, this is probably a result of working too long in corporate America and being rubbed the wrong way.  Not everything in life is about money.

With that said, two small companies have recently caught my attention.  How?  One was the personal approach taken, and two; I like what they’re offering and the stories behind them.  Lastly, I find them both very creative.  See for yourself.  Visit Tickle My Chi and YogaMatic.

This blog is about whatever comes to mind and speaks to my heart.  I will continue to write from my heart and not get sidetracked or bribed to do something other than what speaks to me.  If you have started a yoga related business –yoga clothes, mats, jewelry, events – or opened a yoga studio, I’d love to hear from you.  If you’ve written a yoga book or yoga blog from your heart, I want to hear from you.  Let me know what inspired you.  Entrepreneurs all have a story.  I’d love to hear your story!

How Was Your Weekend?

My Mondays start at 6:45am with a private yoga client in Arlington, then I head to Potomac, MD to teach another private yoga session.  I have a mini-break which I run home to walk my dog, meditatively, and then dart back out the door to teach a corporate lunchtime yoga class in D.C.  This is my typical Monday.  And like most Mondays, today after leaving the corporate yoga class I stopped into Smoothie King to satisfy my Green Tea Tango with Banana addiction.  The girl asked me “how was your weekend?”.  I had to pause and think “my weekend? what did I do?”.  Though it was only 1:30pm on Monday, my weekend felt like it was so long ago.

I had a relaxing weekend of yoga, reading (A New Earth), watching a movie (Hitch), doing some laundry, going to the gym and wasting time on Facebook.  I think I did a few errands but honestly I can’t say I over exerted myself.  It was a perfect weekend.

It’s now Monday at 3:45pm.  So I ask myself…why does it feel like the weekend was so long ago?  Am I starting to wake-up to my life in the present?  Am I starting to live in the power of being aware of what each moment at hand has to offer?  It is freeing to just surrender to what the day has to offer, i.e. not trying to control todays’ events, not being disappointed that I didn’t have a more productive weekend.  The weekend has past.  There will be another one soon.  Until then, I have today to enjoy and tomorrow to wake-up to.  Namaste.      

Take Charge of the Holiday Frenzy

Tagging onto my last blog post, here are a few simple suggestions from a yogi who is feeling all the things you’re feeling right now as the holiday frenzy erupts.  If you want to fully experience the meaning of “celebration” during the holidays, give this a read.

If you haven’t started shopping, writing cards, baking or whatever it is you need to do, start today.  As Baron says, if not now, when?  Eliminate the ease of procrastination.  Overload, exhaustion and increased stress will happen that last week before Christmas if you don’t start now.  Oh, and you’ll probably ditch your yoga practice and exercise routine to boot.  Lack of exercise can bring a damper on your personal celebration.  You may physically be at the party but mentally you feel the guilt of not sticking with the things in life that keep you sane.

If you need to skip a holiday event (even if it’s to give you time to hit the yoga mat), provide a brief explanation in advance and be sure to express appreciation.  You don’t have to accept every invitation, but don’t say you’re going to be there and then cancel the last minute.  Or worse, not show up period.  You’ll feel guilt and stress and more than likely, disappoint the host.

Lastly, if you procrastinate during the holidays in an effort to avoid the debt that many take on in the process of giving, get creative in your gift-giving this year.  Think “white elephant exchange” (a nice way to recycle something someone else might like without tossing it).  Think “giving to charity” on behalf of someone you love.  Think of “spending quality time with your friends” by treating them to an afternoon of tea/coffee at the local coffee house as oppose to buying them all gifts.  If you do this during the middle of a Saturday of holiday shopping, your friends will love you!  Give them a break from the frenzy.

Oh, and most importantly, whatever it is you decide to do during the next few weeks, stay committed to your yoga, meditation or whatever outlet you normally do to keep yourself sane.  The worse thing you can do this time of year is let the holiday frenzy take over your life.  You’re in charge so take charge starting today!      

Celebrate the Holidays

The holiday frenzy is upon us.  What is it that makes it frenzied?  There’s the obvious: Christmas parties —I already had one last Saturday night, two this weekend and at least three more before I had out of town.  Holiday shopping —in-progress.  Writing holiday greeting cards —in-progress.  Baking cookies —probably not.  Decorating the tree —8 more bulbs to go, just need to buy more ornament hooks.   Then there’s the subtle:  procrastination, holiday debt, forgetting the meaning of holiday celebration, ditching yoga practice to attend the company party.  Add all of this to our already busy lives; hence the frenzy.

Unfortunately, in order to handle the frenzy, some tend to completely avoid holiday activities and celebration (bah hum bug) while others push aside the things that keep us sane —doing yoga, going to the gym, walking in nature, practicing meditation or reading something that calms us.  Remember, the holidays are about celebrating.  Celebration should be cheerful and not stressful.

As a yoga teacher, this is my advice:  this is the time you need yoga or whatever it is that keeps you sane.  The holidays are a time to challenge you.  The challenge:  how important is it to you to take care of yourself?  Accept the challenge and show up to your favorite yoga studio, the gym or whatever it is that keeps you mentally, emotionally and physically healthy.

Now here’s the crazy part of this.  We know every year Christmas will be here on 12/25.  We know that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, our time will be filled with celebration and stress.

Since we’re beyond Thanksgiving, the question is what can you do today to make the last few days before Christmas more peaceful and the time between now and then celebratory?  What can you do today so that you can continue to have a strong yoga practice as the year winds down?  My advice:  read my next posting.  Honestly.  Shanti.

One More Breakthrough

I’ve been meditating off and on for the last couple of years —definitely, more off than on.  Making the time for it has always been my excuse.

As I experienced during my week spent in Maya Tulum, I need a daily meditation practice (breakthrough #3).  In order to actively listen to myself and others, I need to slow my mind down.  I need to un-clutter (am I making up a word?) my mind.  I need to create space in my head in order to manage and react appropriately to the opportunities my journey in life holds.

Meditation is an invaluable tool to help “cease the fluctuations of the mind” (Pantanjali’s second Yoga Sutra).  Fluctuations can take many forms — memories, worries about the future, constant chatter/dialogue we have with ourselves and false impressions.  Even when we sleep, our mind wanders.  The list of fluctuations is really endless but the Yoga Sutras identifies 5 kinds fluctuations (vrittis).  If you haven’t read this thought-provoking book on yoga philosophy, please do.  It’s an indispensable guide to many themes you’ll hear and experience throughout your yoga exploration.

Back to meditation.  In order to reap the benefits meditation has to offer, you have to do it.  I have to do it.  I have to practice it regularly.  Before Maya Tulum, meditation was easier to talk about than to do.  Now I crave it.

Even when it’s only 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening, I feel how those few minutes add up to a lot of trust within.  Those few minutes offer a lot of clarity to my thoughts and actions throughout my day.  My listening skills are sharper.  Best of all, when I come out of my meditation practice I am able to see what’s really important on my “to do” list in life.

And just in the last few weeks, it’s powerful to observe how I can more easily drop into a meditation practice than say, 6 months ago.  Of course, my mind still wanders as I sit with my eyes shut and focus on my simple mantra.  The cool thing is I catch my mind drifting sooner rather than later.  Even cooler is how I am finding it easier to bring my wandering mind back to the present.

My final thoughts on meditation.  Who doesn’t just want to sit and be?  It’s such a wonderful privilege to sit in a healthy posture, breath and be alive.  Meditation is freeing and until you honestly do it, you have no idea how much freedom it can bring.  It can be the best 5 minutes you spend out of your busy day.  You may even start to crave it as much as I do J     

Change Happens

Whether we want it or not, change surrounds us.  It lives within us.  Change makes our lives fun, interesting and oftentimes challenging.  Birth, daily living and death are all events that provoke change.  Sometimes we proactively create change; other times we simply react to it.  Regardless, change is a constant in life.

Many times we can’t control change and it isn’t always positive, though you do have a choice as to how you react to it.  Resisting change can usually negatively heighten the situation.  Being open to it can be transforming.

How can one go from one extreme to the other (resistance to openness)?  Or better yet, how can one find balance?  Slow down.  Step back and consider the “change event” at hand.  Get on the yoga mat or meditation cushion and sit with it.  Pay attention to the clues and subtle shifts that change offers.

Slowing down —whether you do yoga, mediate, tai chi or simply opt for long walks— provides an awareness of the constant flow of change within and around us.  By slowing down you’ll start to find balance between making changes and accepting/and or rejecting changes.  Time on your yoga mat will grant you opportunities to check in with how you view and react to every change that each moment offers.  Do you resist, judge reluctantly accept, or willingly receive change?  Depending on the “change” event, your answer will be different.

Yoga (or whatever your “slowing down” activity of choice is) doesn’t mean you’ll be a push-over or that you’ll push others over.  Change or no change, yoga will make you stronger and more intuitive to know what is right for you.  Whatever the situation, it’s in your control to decide if and how you’ll accept, reject, question or believe in every “change” that happens in your life.  Life is full of change so learn to manage it so that you can find a way to enjoy whatever comes your way.  

How Can I Practice Yoga at Work?

Given many people spend 60-70% of their waking hours doing work-related tasks (sitting at the computer, commuting, attending lunch meetings, traveling for business, etc.), it can be challenging to make it to your yoga mat on a daily basis.  Incorporating a few yoga tips into your work day can help you manage stress, relieve muscle tension, shift your perspective and give you a sense of control.

Start with your breath.  As I often tell my yoga students, if you’re breathing you’re doing yoga.  Breathing is one of the most powerful tools we have to improve our mental state and energize our bodies.  Take a 2-5 minute breathing break every hour (every 30 minutes is even better).  This break can be done sitting at your desk with the eyes closed or better yet, take a 5 minute walk outside for some fresh air.  Let the sound of the inhale and exhale bring ease into your body and clear your mind.  For a more energizing break, sweep the arms up as you inhale and release them to your sides as you exhale.  Repeat this as often as possible.

If you can’t justify a 5 minute breathing-break every hour, there are plenty of opportunities during your daily routine to slow down, breath and simply check-in with yourself.  These small moments can add up throughout your day.            Sitting long hours?  Check-in with your posture.  Feet should be flat on floor with knees over the ankles.  Hips should be slightly higher than knees.  Engage your abdominals and lift up through your chest.          Notice how you type.  Can you lighten up on your keyboard?        Do you have a death grip on your mouse?  Again, lighten up.  Relax your fingers.        Waiting in line for coffee, lunch, etc?  Notice your posture.  Stand tall –ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees, knees over ankles        Have a meeting on a different floor?  Take the stairs.  Focus on breathe and movement.         Stuck in traffic?  Breathe.  Inhale for a count of 5.  Exhale for a count of 5.  Think of something that makes you smile.        Walk to the bathroom at 85% of your usual speed.  Mentally, leave your work at your desk.  Focus on your posture and breath.         Eating lunch at your desk?  Follow it with a 10 minute walk outside or in/around the building.  Focus on the sights and sounds around you.          Smile and breathe whenever you can.

Take charge of your inner yogi at work by bringing awareness to how you perform simple repetitive motions –walking, sitting, typing, commuting, answering the phone, responding in a meeting, etc.  The more you start to bring attention to how you move and react in your work related tasks, the more in control you’ll start to feel.