Is It Better to Give or Receive?

This is the time of gift GIVING right? But, is it really better to give than to receive? I think receiving sometimes take a back seat to giving, for all the wrong reasons. Let me explain… Have you ever put a lot of thought into a gift, given it to that special someone, only to be disappointed by a less than enthusiastic nod from the receiver? Headstand Snowman. We repeat that scenario when instead of acknowledging the little things in life that others do for us we only see “room for improvement”. Especially when it comes to the people we love the most.

I’ve committed to turning it upside down this holiday season!

Here are six ways to be an excellent, over-the-top receiver…

  1. Notice the gifts given to you everyday from people you come in contact with. A smile, open door, helpful advice, small act of kindness, etc. Most folks just want to be helpful or noticed.
  2. Take time (like two minutes) to tell a loved one the sweet impact they’ve had on your life. Use phrases like: “I appreciate you!” or “I really enjoy your company.” or “The way you __________ makes me smile.” By acknowledging their gifts you show that you “receive” them.
  3. Be Genuine – Pay a genuine compliment by looking someone in the eyes and acknowledging their worth for no other reason than just because. Really “see” another human “being” rather than just look.
  4. Listen – Turn on the “listening” ear and turn off the intense desire to run at the mouth. Receive another by “listening” not just hearing.
  5. Show love – Bend down to look a child in the eye and tell him/her how much you love the present they put together out of Popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter.
  6. Be Grateful – Maintain a heart full of gratitude for the little things in life. Whenever I feel resentful, overworked, or under appreciated I play a little game. Which is this…to name as many things as I can that I am grateful for in one minute. It’s the single most important gift I can give and receive from myself – a change of heart.

When we truly receive we are thinking not about ourselves, rather, we are acknowledging the giver, their kindness, humility, and their individual worth. In that moment of receiving…we are in a true abundant state of mind. “The most important thing you can do for another human being is to validate their existence.” ~ Marie Forleo Is it better to give than to receive?

I’d like to hear about what brings you the most happiness this season! Please share your thoughts below.

Happiness Is…

Have you had a chance to read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin? Her work has had a powerful impact on me. Reading the book has given me a chance to reflect on my daily practices and how I show up in life.

Am I happy? Are others happy being around me? What makes me happy? 

I gave a speech a couple of months ago titled “Happiness Is a Choice”. As I was preparing, I posed this question to sporting family members: “What makes you happy?” I got various responses:

“Relaxing with a good movie or book.”, “Being with friends.”, “Going on Vacation”, “Being involved in a creative project”, “You not pestering me with questions right now.”, “A beautiful sunset” etc.

Ultimately though, after discussing it at length, it boiled down to this….people, events, and circumstances can’t make you happy, only you can make yourself happy. You decide to be so.

Practicing happiness can go a long way in boosting your health. We’ve all heard the old adage “Laughter is the best medicine.” Right? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to test it for yourself. We all can tell the difference between how we feel after having a good hearty laugh… compared to when we are ticked off, snappy at someone, or grumpy. If being happy can create better health the question then becomes… “How do I practice happiness?”

I came up with a list of daily practices that help me be in a mindset and physical state where happiness (and good health) is cultivated…

  • Eat three meals a day
  • Get good sleep and rest
  • Exercise
  • Listen to favorite music
  • Meditate and Pray
  • Surround myself with and recognize supportive family and friends
  • Learn something new everyday
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Prioritize my day – do what is most challenging first
  • Turn my fear of the unknown into excitement about the process of learning
  • Acknowledge the gift each of my family members are to me
  • Notice the little things in life that if I suddenly didn’t have I would miss. (like running water)

Here are a few suggestions from Gretchen’s book “The Happiness Project”…

  • Act the way I want to feel.
  • Do it now.
  • Be polite and be fair.
  • Enjoy the process.
  • Lighten up.
  • Don’t keep score.
  • Smile! Laugh at yourself. – showing vulnerability and a sense of humor makes you more likable and approachable. It also takes social courage.
  • There is only love.

Two of my favorite mantras…

  • I am enough.
  • Doing my best is perfect!

Life is a journey. When I get to the end of my goals and dreams I hope that the words of the writer Colette are of no consequence: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”

We can realize the wonderful life we’ve been given. Today. Now. In this moment. The choice is ours.

What cultivates happiness for you? I would love to hear about your own happiness project or ways in which you choose to be happy.

Restorative Yoga: Why Restore?

In “Yoga for Wellness”, Gary Kraftsow describes Yoga Therapy (Yoga Cikitsa) as:

“a remedial tradition, founded on a recognition that our physical condition, emotional states, attitudes, dietary and behavioral patterns, lifestyle and personal associations, and the environment in which we live and work are all intimately linked to each other and to the state of our health.”

We live in a constant state of fluctuation and change in all these areas of our lives. Year to year, month to month, day to day, minute by minute our body is adjusting to both internal and external forces. The good news is that because nothing is static, our condition will (and has to) change. The question then becomes will it change for better or worse?
One of my yoga mentors Judith Lasater challenges her classes to ask the question this way…

”Is what I’m doing in the present moment healing or harmful to me right now?”

That’s a great question! Sometimes our body doesn’t need another mile on the treadmill or a late night TV show, or beating ourselves into a submissive exhaustion to feel effectively “worked out”. Sometimes the body just needs to be still & quiet. What I’m talking about is true Restorative Yoga.

What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative Yoga = The Antidote to Stress

Photo: Lululemon Athletica

True Restorative Yoga is the practice of relaxing deeply. It is being propped up, supported, held, and nurtured in a pose for a sustained period of time, typically from 5-30 minutes.

The power of quieting the mind and stilling the body is that it creates a state of rest that is different from sleep, one in which the body can heal and recover from deep states of chronic stress. It is a state where there is no effort, no movement, and the brain is quiet.

I introduce three poses in this restorative practice.

When practiced regularly, these quiet soothing poses allow (and help) our own internal healing processes to work—healing processes that can be overwhelmed by stress and disease. Just as it takes a repetitious lifting of heavy weight to build muscle, so to it takes allowing oneself to deeply relax in order to let the repair and healing process take place.

To experience a practice for yourself, follow the yoga practice in the video above.

Taking time out each day to relax and renew is essential to living well. The postures I share in the video above, when practiced regularly, will help heal the effects of chronic stress. They can be practiced individually in as little as 5 minutes to accommodate busy schedules or grouped together in a sequence simmering 5-30 minutes in each posture for a more complete 60-90 minute practice.

According to Judith Lasater in her book “Relax & Renew”, restorative poses work well for those times when you feel weak, fatigued, or stressed from your daily activities. They are especially beneficial for the times before, during, and after major life events: death of a loved one, change of job or residence, marriage, divorce, major holidays, and vacations. They are also helpful when recovering from an illness or injury.

Are you in a constant state of going from one thing to the next and always trying to “catch up” or “stay on top of it”? You could be on overload. The need to take time to repair and replenish is just as great as the need for us to move and be active. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. A good active practice alternating with a restorative practice at the right times can bring balance into our lives. Stress levels go down and tasks that once seemed difficult are suddenly more doable.

Because I’m a “doer” as in, I like to bike, hike, run, do yoga, and generally be active, I cherish the times I get to practice restoration. My body eats it up. I usually treat it once a week for 15-30 minutes to bring my body back into balance. Twice a year (usually around the holiday season and mid summer) I include a deeper practice of restore that comprises a daily 30-60 minute practice for an entire week. I feel like I’m plugging into a reservoir of energy juice. Like the Energizer Bunny, I’m renewed and feel like I can take on the world.

Yoga Practice (30 min): Balancing the Second Chakra

Linda Black, The Yoga Coach, guides you through a 35 minute yoga practice to balance your 2nd chakra. Instead of wishing or demanding a relationship to be different than it is, allow yourself to be accepting of what is. Open to be adaptable to change and receptive to inspiration on how to make it happen. The 2nd Chakra has a feminine quality to it that is an expression of going out into the world with the gentle act of accepting and allowing.

Suggested Essential oils: doTerra Wild Orange (to open the channels of creativity) and women’s blend.

Yoga Practice (30 min): 3-in-1 Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga = The Antidote to Stress.

The power of these quiet soothing postures when practiced regularly comes from allowing (and helping) our own internal healing processes to work – healing processes that can be overwhelmed by stress and dis-ease. Just as it takes a repetitious lifting of heavy weight to build muscle, so to it takes allowing oneself to deeply relax in order to let the repair and healing process take place. Practice all three postures for 10 min each OR enjoy simmering in one pose for 20-30 minutes.

Suggested DoTerra oils – Geranium (The Oil of love – for heart opening), Cypress (The oil of Motion & Flow – for getting “unstuck”), and/or Digestive Blend.

Post Run Yoga Stretch

Linda Black, The Yoga Coach, shares a couple of post run yoga stretches. Keep your muscles pliable…always stretch for 10-15 minutes after your workout. This will release the muscle and reduce lactic acid buildup that causes restriction of movement.

Yoga can help runners to prevent injury and stay in tip top shape. Learn more at Friday’s Yoga for Runners class!

    • Friday, July 26, 2013 
    • 6:30pm – 8:30pm
    • Breathe Yoga Studio – 11274 Kestrel Rise Rd. South Jordan, UT (upstairs in Black Diamond Gym)
    • $25. Register by clicking the button below!

Decisions, Decisions…

I’m a self proclaimed recovering multitask-aholic. I start on one project and get side tracked into another…then another…and oh yes then another…by the end of the day I wonder where my time was spent because it looks like NOTHING was accomplished. It is common in a day to put many demands on myself. Without filters to say “no” to many of these tasks I would feel guilty or like I was “missing out” on something if I didn’t do it ALL. I felt like my life was being played out for me and I was getting resentful. Most of these tasks (if not all) seemed super important to me… things like, I need to keep up in my business, spend time with the kids, get dinner on the table, clean the house, do the laundry, water the garden (or put one in), mend those shirts that are piled up, get a workout in, meditate, meet with my child’s teacher, grocery shop, date night, network with peers, squeeze in some yoga training, etc. I lost site of important goals because of all the little unimportant “important” tasks.

Reminds me of saying…”The road to hell <or mediocrity> is paved with good intentions.”

I get it.

My dreams and aspirations were getting lost in an ocean of “have tos” and “shoulds”. I found myself swimming in self doubt, overwhelm, and un-constructive inner criticism because I wasn’t able to prioritize.

What to do about it?

For me it’s a daily practice of staying present and determining WHAT is most important. I DECIDE on a goal and then DECIDE what, where, and with whom I spend my time…having the end goal in mind.  I get to use my decision making muscles. I create focus and clarity by having an “eye on the prize” so to speak.

The key lies in the word “decide”. To “decide” is to literally “cut” yourself off from any other option. Once you decide to do something there is no turning back.

Once the trapeze artist decides to let go of the swing there is no turning back, he has to catch the next swing mid-air to make it to the other side.

Life is like that.

If we are only dipping our toe half into the water we will falter and when the going gets tough it’s easier to give up and move back into our comfort zone (or safety net) rather than plunge right in and make it to the goal. To DECIDE gives you no other option.

For instance, I decided last year to enter my FIRST ever Triathlon. (It’s been on my bucket list for 20+ years).

So why did I follow through this time?

When the opportunity arose to enter the “Women of Steel” sprint triathlon I decided to put my money where my mouth was. It took me less than five minutes to make that decision. I plunged in…ready, set, and registered. No turning back.

Did I have to get up early to get a run in? Yes. Was it hard? Yes. What got me up was the picture in my mind of me finishing the race with a decent time and plenty of energy. I had my “eye on the prize”. I did NOT want to “half-ass” it and come in middle of the pack, out of breath, injured, or worse…not finish.

When my training required two-a-days I mustered up the inner strength to bike to the local rec center, swim a mile and then bike home.Was it cold? YES. Was it windy? YES. Was it hard? YES.

Why did I stick with it? Because I made a conscious, internal decision I was going to do it. There was NO TURNING BACK or giving up. Making the decision gave me unwavering focus to stay with my training and NOT get sidetracked into other “important” tasks.
No detours, no excuses.

Making that single clear decision gave me the focus i needed to train without distractions.

My yoga practice helps me conquer outer distractions and instead tune in and cultivate focus. It has been a useful part of my life’s training as I set goals and keep my “eye on the prize”.
A great pose to encourage focus without faltering is  Vrksasana (Tree pose).
What decisions have you made in the past month? Are you moving forward on your goals even when they are hard? What keeps you motivated? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
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Yoga Practice (30 min): Yoga for Digestion

Linda Black, the Yoga Coach, combines a number of best practices for digestion including twists, forward bends and Kapalabhati pranayama. A 30 minute gentle yoga routine to stimulate the digestive fire or agni.

Intention: “I nourish my body, mind, and spirit with food, thoughts and actions that are easily digested and contribute to my over all well-being.”

 

Suggested essential oils: Digestzen and Citrus Bliss by DoTerra

Best to practice first thing in the morning or waiting at least an hour after eating. This sequence can also be found on Yoga Journal’s sequence builder (once you login).

Yoga Helps Improve Focus and Mental Clarity

Yoga Tip: Use balancing postures to sharpen your focus and mental clarity.

An article I recently read struck a chord with me.

It pointed out how our mind is one of the resources we rely on most to navigate our life and possibly the one we take most for granted.

“If you think about it you’ll realize that it’s true. Your mind is your greatest asset.

We use it for our intelligence, imagination, creativity and reasoning. When it is gets foggy or overwhelmed and unclear it’s hard to make decisions, remember things or have the mental capacity to complete projects.

Do you feel like your head struggles sometimes? That your memory recall is slow or your intuition can’t be found?

I know I do.

It’s important to maintain and improve mental clarity – why?

  • Job performance – our livelihood depends on how we show up and our focus on the job.
  • Information retention – I don’t believe that as we age our minds get less sharp…I believe we lose the ability to retain information because we aren’t focused on our “focus” muscles. Information recall and retention are directly related to how we assimilate information. Mental alertness and clarity is key.
  • Complex problem solving – reasoning and day to day decision making is easier when our minds are sharp, clear, and tuned in.
  • Having direction and purpose in life – ahhh…this is my favorite and often we overlook the value of having direction and purpose in life. Then in our 40’s we look at where we are and say “What am I doing here?”

And the list goes on…

A great way to increase mental clarity is through meditation and exercise. Yoga combines the two to create excellent clarity in the mind. When we are focused completely on holding balance in a pose the mind becomes sharp, all other thoughts are removed giving the mind clear focus.

When I began to practice yoga back in 2000 I noticed within a few weeks that I was experiencing greater focus, clarity and productivity at work. I still use yoga today as a vehicle to keep my mind sharp, focused and vibrant.

A great pose to practice clarity of mind is Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3) pose.

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