Applied Yoga Philosophy

In this paper you will learn how the classical text of Ramayana has influenced my life and my yoga practice. I will discuss the core principles and/or teachings of this text with regard to historical context and to the contemporary application of it today. I will also describe how the teachings in this text have influenced my role as a Yoga Therapist and how it is applicable to my clients.  Ramayana gives insights into how to live our various dharma’s and ethical standards at times of mental turmoil. It teaches us lessons of mortality and is a guide for righteous living. Ramayana inspires old and young and cuts across all barriers such as income levels, cultures and religions from around the world. The Ramayana story retold by William Buck is one that speaks to me. (Buck, 1976)

Ramayana was originally written in Sanskrit in the tradition of Vedas. The story is about the romance of Rama and the Court and the struggle of good over evil. It contains twenty-four thousand couplets (verses). These verses were written in thirty-two syllable meters called sloka (two line verses with sixteen syllables each). The meter is called anustup, chapters are called sargas and books are called kandas (of which there are seven). Each phrase of the story is connected to the next phase. This text dates back to 880,000 BCE (before Common Era or Christian Era). (Anonymous, “Ancient World History”)

The most important lesson that Ramayana teaches us is the relationship between Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Ultimately we are striving for Moksha and if we follow our Dharma we will obtain Moksha however at times Artha and Kama muddy our ways as we lean toward excess or scarcity in these categories rather than defining what is enough for us to fulfill our Dharma. I love how Rod Stryker describes the four desires. He says: Dharma in simple terms is the drive to fulfill your potential, you might also think of it as your duty (daughter, sister, etc.); Artha refers to material resources that will help you fulfill your dharma; Kama is the desire for pleasures of all kinds and Moksha is the longing for liberation and true freedom. (Stryker, 2011, pp. 20-23)

Ramayana is relevant more than ever in our modern society. Ramayana can be used as a set of values or a code of conduct in how to love our individual life, our family life, our career and how to connect with others in society. The young can learn from their mentors/ elders about wisdom in practicing the lessons taught in Ramayana. Currently in our society I see an undertone of solitary accomplishments being a metric of success. Success equated to worthiness, yet we are born worthy and unity is success. Relationships are being based on economy and greed instead of love, honesty and loyalty. Think of your hand for a moment. What if each finger did its own thing? How much can you accomplish with one finger? When all five units work together what can you accomplish then? We have teens who don’t heed parental advice and parents that aren’t concerned with their teen’s future. We have students that don’t respect teachers and teachers who don’t impart wisdom to students. We are one.  We breathe the same air, drink the same water and put our pants on the same way. Unity is diversity. We must all do our own work to understand ourselves better to be at peace for the world to be at peace.  One of my character strengths is the love of learning. I remind myself every day to take my acquired book knowledge and put it into practical knowledge to live by. “Ramayana is more than just a story. It assimilates principles of science and psychology, within its broader fold of spirituality and wisdom and this affords an all-inclusive solution.” –Dr. Ramesh Kumar Gupta

 How do we preserve our values? We are busy working hard to achieve individual success through greed and disregard for family, spouses, friendships, and fortunes. We have lost sight of what is truly important; unity, connection, loyalty, family, higher power, purpose and love. “Spirituality destroys narrow mindedness and confers unity, cooperation and universal peace.” ~Sai Darshan Pressures to perform deteriorate our life.  Without connection and spirituality we end up losing ourselves and our happiness. (Gupta)

Rama said in the second battle episode of the siege of Lanka: Vibhishanal! Self-confidence is my chariot and my courage and patience are its wheels. Truth and character is my flag while my strength, knowledge and self-control and goodwill are the four horses of my chariot. Forgiveness and uniform behavior are the ropes used to tie these horses. Faith in God is my charioteer while contentment and charity is my sword and axe respectively. My principles are my arrows. Devotion to the Brahmana’s and to my preceptor is my impenetrable amour. What other means of victory can one crave for? (Bhanot, 1992, p. 12)

My life and work is filled with love and through the life lessons of Ramayana. I can inspire myself and others to heal through movement. The fourteen lessons that Ramayana teaches us and I apply in my profession as a Yoga Therapist are:

If I come back to my soul’s dharma code I can relinquish my excess of wants in materialism and sense pleasures. I have dharmas or duties to carry out through other roles such as being a wife, daughter, friend, aunt, Yoga Therapist etc. Working through my four desires and developing clarity on my soul’s dharma code has helped me stay grounded as a Yoga Therapist while guiding my clients in finding clarity for themselves.

 Ramayana’s lesson of being married to one partner in our lifetime is built on long term meaningful relationships that are loyal and respectful of both parties. I like this quote by Kabbalah “We all come to this world as half a soul, we stumble about in this existence, trying other halves, preparing for the day when we will meet our kindred spirit. That’s when life really begins, that’s when it picks up speed and starts to flow and we can cast off. But we can’t meet that kindred spirit unless we discover our mission in life first.” It reminds me to do my work so others can do their work as well. Relationships are not perfect. They require growth, forgiveness and compassion especially after the affinity fades and the relationship changes into something that isn’t as new.  Relationships are a living moving piece of art that is always seeking balance and harmony. By having boundaries for myself and as a Yoga Therapist it allows me to have compassion and empathy. Happiness is obtained from the inside not from the outside.

If we take our time and speak our truth we are keeping our promises and honoring ourselves and others. As a Yoga Therapist I use my tools from Marshal Rosenberg (Psychologist and creator of nonviolent communication) and speak in a style that is non-violent and honor the profession and me. This maybe at times saying “I don’t know, I’m struggling with that myself, I feel this professional would be more helpful, I can’t fix but I can guide you to finding a more comfortable space if you are willing to do the work.”

It is my duty as a pioneer in this field to be respectful of the client in front of me, to my peers and those coming behind me. Reminding myself of my own detachment challenges without disappointment. Reminding myself to stay in a professional role rather than a friendship role with my clients so that they we can detach as a celebration of how far they have come without disappointment.

Not to listen to pointless and useless stories of my life especially stories that are vicious. It reminds me that my personality or way of healing my not be right for everyone and it is okay to excuse myself from a relationship with a client if I feel it isn’t providing healing for the client and a strain on my energy level. There are many needing guidance.

Not to accept valuable goods or presents from anyone, as this does the service of Yoga Therapy an injustice. A fair wage for the session provided is enough. I always tell my clients the greatest gift you can give me is to first heal yourself and then share your story, tell others about this service and then invite them to start their work.

Sometimes things come to you in disguise and to try and not get swayed by suspect attractions. Follow my gut and trust my personal intuition. As a Yoga Therapist I can always ask curious questions to understand things better and to see if what I’m feeling is client’s truth.

To always speak mindfully and to think before I speak sometimes my findings as a Yoga Therapist should be just that; my findings. My words could cause the client harm. They don’t need to know all of my assessment findings right from the start as they are usually coming to me wounded from a trauma of some sort. I want to create a trust, a safe place emotionally and physically- then I guide them through layers of self-discovering and healing as they are ready and ask for the knowledge and specifics.

All people have value and deserve to be treated fairly. No one deserves to be part of a violent act whether that is verbal or physical or be the subject of cruelty or bullying behavior. As a Yoga therapist I always lay out the expectations of what I agree to bring to each session and what I ask my client to bring to each session. It sets a boundary and a tone of what to expect during our times together.

My life and work is filled with love that moves people to heal; I am light in a dark world. I believe love exceeds all barriers. As a Yoga Therapist (I ask first) I always give my clients a hug on the way out. Hugs are healing and so many times I am the only loving touch they received all day. Vitamin L (love) is what will heal the world.

As a Yoga Therapist I am only their guide on this great adventure of theirs. They have to do all the work. I’m humbled and honored that they chose me to guide them.

We are wired for connection, belonging and friendships. As a Yoga Therapist I create times where there is a sense of community at the studio. A place where like-minded individuals can go, belong and friendships can be made. The connections here have a major impact on our local community.

Those that have the biggest bark, the toughest exterior, the souls that hurt others are the ones that need help the most. I pray daily for strength to be given to me, for the wisdom to ask the right question that will help them heal. On the inside they want love, connection and belonging more than anyone.

At times I have to jump into the middle of a fire to set a higher standard. As a Yoga Therapist I hold myself to high standards, others say they are impossible standards. As a teacher I guide my clients to lean into their fears to find calm waters and to set a standard for themselves and role model it to others.

 

References

Ancient World History. (2012, July 22). Retrieved October 19, 2015.

 

Bhanot, T. (Ed.). (1992). Ramayana: Part 9: Battle episode 2. (p. 12). Nai Sarak, Delhi: Dreamland Publications.

 

Buck, W. (1976). Ramayana: King Rama’s way (35th ed.). Berkeley, California: University of California Press.

 

Gupta, R. (2011, April 4). Ramayan for our daily lives – The Times of India. Retrieved October 19, 2015.

 

Stryker, R. (2011). For the purpose of the soul. In The four desires: Creating a life of purpose, happiness, prosperity, and freedom (pp. 20-23). New York: Delacorte Press.

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Transform and Upgrade You Part 2

How do you deal with how you feel?

Emotions are both a gift and one of the most challenging things we will ever deal with in our lives. Emotions are a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood or relationships with others.
Plutchnick’s wheel of emotions says there are eight basic emotions which experience:

• Fear – feeling afraid and also may be known as terror, shock, phobia
• Anger –feeling angry, also known as rage
• Sadness – feeling sad also known as grief, depression
• Joy – feeling happy also known as happiness, gladness
• Disgust – feeling something is wrong or dirty
• Trust – feeling a positive emotion. Admiration is stronger, acceptance is weaker
• Anticipation – in the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen, expectation is more neutral
• Surprise- how one feels when something unexpected happens
Emotions can also be broken down into simple, complex and pure. Examples of simple emotions are:

• discovery/ anger,
• envy/expectation,
• wonder/ common place,
• happiness/ sadness,
• amusement/ weariness,
• courage/ timidity/ cowardice,
• pity/ cruelty.

Examples of complex emotions are:

• pride/ modesty/shame,
• closeness/detachment/distance,
• complaint/ pain/doing average/ pleasure,
• caution/ boldness/rashness,
• patience/ mere tolerance/ anger,
• relaxation/composure/stress,
• envy/ goodwill.

Examples of pure emotions are:

• fear/nervousness/security,
• togetherness/privacy,
• respect/disrespect,
• appreciation/envy,
• love/no love lost/hatred,
• hope/despair,
• confusion/being confused.

Feelings allow us to laugh, to love and to create. They create experiences in our lives… they are the source of our relationships. Emotions are rich! We have joy, anger, grief, pain…we have emotions so that we can have deep emotional relationships. So what does that mean…with all our heart, with all our love, with all our focus we develop relationships of purpose to connect, to love and to appreciate one another.
On the other hand, emotions can cause us some problems in our lives… a tremendous amount of pain in our lives. When mishandled and abused, emotions send us into a spiral because life is uncertain a lot of times. We do everything in our power as human beings to avoid pain and sadness, but let’s face it… life never plays by our rules, right?

Things don’t always work out how we plan them to. Any effort we may put forth to try to control our emotions is futile. Life breeds a whole host of emotions that we have to figure out how to manage rather than control. The loss of a loved one, abuse in a relationship, misguided emotions such as anger fear, guilt, and shame… if not handled correctly can lead us father and father away from how emotions are a gift in our life. The farther we get from living a purpose driven life the harder it is to manage our emotions. We are troubled. The closer we get to living a purpose driven life the more our life is transformed. We get lost sometimes in life. We are trying to get back to the part of our life that we feel connected to. It makes sense.

There are two important ways that we can make sense of this emotional journey that we are on. We can actually be transformed by the emotional journeys that we travel. They can draw us closer to that purpose driven life:

#1 Learn how to manage our emotions!

Why is it important for me to manage my emotions? Feelings are unreliable and uncertain. Have you ever felt that you were not sure how or what to feel at times. I really don’t understand myself. How I feel is unpleasing at times. I want to do what is right but I don’t do it, instead I do what I hate. I want to do what is good but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong but I do it anyway. Is it me or do you feel this way at times too? Seems like a picture of our lives…everyday right! What seems like the wrong thing feels like the right thing and the right thing sometimes feels like the wrong thing. In either case it comes down to your intentions. Sometimes what feels like the wrong thing is correct. My mentor Beth Shaw reminds me that comfort and change never come in the same sentence. For example, Sustainable Movement Practice (a.k.a. exercise) is at times uncomfortable and takes a consistent discipline so when someone says it is “easy” or isn’t hard to acquire a discipline, they are lying. Is hurt good for us in our life? It is a temporary discomfort that brings us to health. On the other hand what feels good is actually bad for you in your life. For Example, anyone that tells you that eating a cheeseburger loaded with toppings is not enjoyable they are lying. It is yummy, greasy, the bread is soft but it is 970 calories loaded with a day’s worth of fat. Not a great choice for your life and it will eventually lead you to pain.

Emotions are unreliable in leading us to which choices to make. They lead us in confusing ways. There is a way that seems or appears to be right, powerful, convincing—I’m here to say that it is a bad compass. The mind is powerful and it will work hard to be convincing. You don’t just wake up and whatever mood you feel guides you that day, month or year—it is a bad compass! Let the facts shape your feelings rather than the feelings distort the facts. Let the facts shape your feelings rather than the feelings distort the facts. There are times in our life that we feel alone, lost, wondering where the light and support is. Love and leading with our heart, forgiveness and listening to that quietest voice from our spirituality. Love is the key that opens the heart. You hold the key to your own dream. Family is the key to happiness. Why is managing our emotions so important? Emotions are unreliable. Family and mentors help us know if we are managing our emotions or if they are managing us. When we are off course, we are lacking spirituality (listening).

#2 Deal with how we feel!

If we don’t manage our emotions they are going to wreck our life and our emotions will control us. It is just this simple. We will be manipulated by our moods and guided by the moods we wake up with that day and people will take advantage of us. In fact, advertising and marketing agencies make millions of dollars playing off our emotions. They use emotions to push us to buy things we don’t need they get us fired up and excited about it. Think of that in-house vacuum salesman; he knows that if he gets in through the front door he has a sale. They show you how dirty your house is and how the vacuum could suck up moon rock. Or the u-verse and cable guy… they get in the front door but it is all about the sport packages. Who has purchased something on impulse? QVC loves all of us, right? If you can’t control your emotions you are like a city with no defenses. With no plan, if you can’t control your emotions you will be over run, manipulated, they will have their way with you emotionally and rule over you.

Emotions are very powerful and study after study has shown that E.Q. (emotional quotient) is actually more accurate at measuring success in your life than I.Q. (intelligent quotient) The opportunities and joy in your life come from your E.Q. and how you manage your emotions with other people is actually more of a predictor than your I.Q. Have you ever known someone who didn’t do a good job at managing their emotions? Someone who ruined a job opportunity because of a silly choice? Someone who destroyed their reputation in a moment of passion? Someone who destroyed their family because of a lack of self-control? People get lost and die because of their lack of self-control. It hits home in a lot of different ways. Ever grow up and swore you were never going to do something your parents did only to find in your family unit that you’ve created the same thing? Are words coming out of your mouth or behaviors are showing up that you witnessed as a child? You react how you know. If you aren’t growing, you are repeating. I swore I wouldn’t allow my anger and emotions get the best of me but those family treasures where waiting in the wings. This is how it works. I grew up with a mother that yells, name calls, hits and then goes into silent treatment to express anger… a dad that yells, and then cries to express his anger. Growing up in a German/ Hungarian household we are passionate people that express our emotions and aren’t as good at communicating. Over the years I have worked hard to improve my life skills of listening only to realize that what triggers me turns me into a yelling maniac (because this isn’t who I am at my best self). I need to allow myself to express emotion verbally and compassionately before it gets out of control and yet, I act it out by yelling or punching the pillows or through pillows. In practicing the lifestyle of a Yogi and the discipline of Pilates it has helped me to live a more balanced emotional life. I didn’t realize until recently that living with an emotionally passionate wife is scary to someone who grew up in a family that doesn’t express or communicate emotion. This was such a light bulb to me. I felt bad for him that he fell in love with a wife that is passionate about her emotions both in expression and communication. No wonder he doesn’t know what to do for me when I’m sad, when I’m angry, and when I’m frustrated. The only emotion that he knows how to handle is my joy and love. But he named it and now we can grow from it. I learned about Emotional Intelligence in 2000 which is really about perceiving emotions, understanding emotions, managing emotions and using emotions.
Here is a little chart that might help you decide where you are on the Emotional Intelligence scale.

Low Emotional Intelligence/ High Emotional Intelligence
Aggressive/ Assertive
Demanding/ Ambitious
Egotistical/ Driving
Bossy/ Strong-Willed
Confrontational/ Decisive
Easily/ Distracted Warm
Glib/ Enthusiastic
Selfish/ Sociable
Poor Listener/ Charming
Impulsive/ Persuasive
Resistant to Change/ Patient
Passive/ Stable
Un-Responsive/ Predictable
Slow/ Consistent
Stubborn/ Good Listener
Critical/ Detailed
Picky/ Careful
Fussy/ Meticulous
Hard to Please/ Systematic
Perfectionist/ Neat

The book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman is a great resource on this topic. It identifies what you don’t want to repeat in your life cycle and helps you to choose to make a better choice. Isn’t it better to choose to live a conscious life than to regret what you do when you are out of control that leads to ruin.

The truth is, no matter how broken and screwed up your life is, emotionally it takes just one encounter to change everything. The truth is no matter what you have lost in life it takes just one encounter to change everything. The truth is no matter how hopeless you feel it takes just one encounter to change everything. Emotions are strong, demanding but we don’t have to let them rule our life – put on a new truth – a new life. You have a choice. There is a conflict going on in everyone’s life all the time; in fact, it is seldom that we are without conflict. We often use phrases like this when we are in conflict: This is my family genetics, This is just me, I’ll always be this way, This is how I was brought up to be…… or you can transform and change the record—that’s your choice.

Take a picture of your life right now, what has you stuck in life right now, what emotion are you feeling, are you dealing with that emotion right now that you are struggling with? It might be a medical issue, depression, anxiety, job loss, marriage, worry, fear, maybe you’ve been unwell for generations –You can with one encounter change this course. How do you deal with how you feel?

Three things we should all do when we struggle in our lives are.

1. How you deal with how you feel? Give it a name (In doing this I would help my husband learn my emotions and develop clarity, as he can at times (because his E.I. is low) confuse the emotion that I’m expressing). What is holding you back in this life that you know is available to you. Conform or transform, what’s holding you back from that experience? Give it a name – nothing changes until we identify it- bring it to light and give it a name – grief, anger, depression, restless. For example, I’m struggling in my thoughts they are restless today and I am confused. Be driven by your emotions or by the spirit that lives in your heart- by identifying the underlying problem in life and naming it you take the problem in your life, shine a light on it and that it is the first step to being transformed.

2. Give it a frame take a picture of your life for a second, take a step back and look in the mirror, look at your life. Am I experiencing what it means to be transformed? Or Am I experiencing the life that is conformed? How do I know if my life is transformed? That is easy. Are you seeing these emotions around you in your life from others: Love, Joy, Peace, Patients, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control –if this is showing up in your life you are transformed and on purpose and if it isn’t I promise you it is available to you.

3. Change the Channel Time for a fresh start. Exchange the old record for a new record in your mind. A record of lies to a record of truth. “I’ll always be angry, it is just me.” “I’ll always be unhappy and grumpy, it is who I am.” These are a “record of lies.” You can exchange your grief for comfort. You can exchange your depression for encouragement. You can exchange your anger for self-control. You can exchange your worry for peace of mind and your hopelessness for hope.

I sometimes ask myself, “Why is this situation in my life?” Life is messy. Yes, I know this. I am reminding myself that I don’t want to Die in the Why but to make a choice to live in the What! I’m in this experience. I didn’t ask for this experience, in fact I swore it off but I ended up with it. Not because it is the right thing but because managed emotions and growth isn’t an option for all parties involved. This is bringing grief and great sadness into my life because it isn’t “going how I thought it would go.” Each day I remind myself that, yes, I’m experiencing suffering but I have a choice to how much suffering I decide to go through. I look for opportunities and know that this situation will qualify me on a different empathic level. Our MBB community comforts others in times of troubles so that they may one day comfort others in the future. MBB believes in enriching lives, loving life, sharing peace and seeking joy. Trust, no matter the circumstances. Channel your feelings and help other people because in fulfilling others this brings you happiness.

MBB was born out of love from both its founders Nick and Kim. They had enough love to give; to build one life transformed at a time until there were enough transformed lives that together the MBB Community was born. The MBB transformation takes you out the FOG (Fear, Obligation, and Guilt) of life and puts you into a life full of zest and conscious living. There are countless videos under our Watch MBB on our website (put the link here). Be that transformation for someone else. It only takes one encounter, so be that encounter for someone! Inspire them to take one more small step at a time lead them to strength… to transformation. Do You Want To Get Well? What are you waiting for? Become a member of the MBB community today. We Inspire You to Movement through services such as: Classical Pilates, Yoga, willPower & grace®, Fitness Coaching, Intuitive Eating, Workshops, etc. We change one life, one community at a time. We are your Global Integrative Fitness Studio of choice. Thank you for nine wonderful years of allowing me to live my purpose driven life!

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Transform and Upgrade You Part 1

Sometimes we find ourselves having a hard time forgiving, our mind is racing, we are overreacting to stuff, we are easy to anger and slamming doors, etc.

Are you struggling to find time for movement!

What would it feel like to find time and Money for Movement Services?

What if you found peace in your Mind, Body and Soul?

Do you struggle with relationships?

Does it feel like those closest to you know how to press your buttons?

What would it look like to find peace and reconciliation within your body?

Do you stand there asking who this person I see in the mirror is?

Finding the time to grow in your lifestyle is a challenge and it takes commitment to “self” and discipline to “self.” Life is busy- do you want to exercise more than 1-2x’s per month? What would your life look like and how would your health change if you made it your top priority?

“Transform” dates back to the 1800’s and means to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance or character of. I’m so lucky to have discovered the Mind Body Balance Transformation. It changes your life from emptiness to fullness, from defeat and failure to victory, from insecurity to courage and boldness. Choose to Change and become all that you want to be! I like this song I Believe in Miracles by Deniece Williams. I also like two books The Four Desires by Rod Stryker and The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I have read and re-read these books.

I’m not perfect. I make mistakes – I’ve made a mess and I mean a Hot Mess of my life at times… usually caused by what I think (or as like to call it, my I.B.S.C. (itty bitty shitty committee)). How I think influences how I feel, act and move and my “need to fix” makes a bigger mess than what was there before. What about you? Can you relate? Whether we have something going on in our lives that is small or huge, we are struggling so then we try to fix ourselves because we are feeling ashamed, guilty of the struggle we are having – we start this self-talk that goes something like this: “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I do anything right?” Am I close? This is why we need to work on upgrading ourselves. We need to transform, to change, to grow and to seek guidance in our movement services.

At Mind Body Balance we are in the transformation business. As individuals, we can’t transform ourselves alone. We need guidance from integrative fitness professional’s (they look at the body as a whole- mind, body and spirit), help, support, encourage and offer community (a sense of belonging).

There is a plan that is in place for us. Are you living a life that honors you? If you start to reshape your body, your mind will start to leave those old negative thought patterns that aren’t serving you and as you learn to de-clutter your mind, your heart will open to your spirit as you learn to listen to the quietest voice within yourself. Two more books that I find helpful in transformation are The Life you’ve always wanted by John Ortberg and Clutter Bust your Life by Brooks Palmer. My sister-in-law over the holidays shared a story about my four year old nephew who was asked to sit up at the table while he was eating. His response: “I’m trying to sit up but my body just won’t do it!” He is so smart. Sometimes we are living superficially; maybe on the outside we appear to be living a healthy lifestyle but on the inside we haven’t committed with our heart. We need to move beyond talking about it and apply it to our life in all aspects of body, mind and spirit.

We all go through varying stages of change. From “I Won’t.” to “I Can.” to “I May.” to “I Will.” to “I AM!”
To learn more about the stages of change visit our website at: http://mindbodybalanc.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Where-are-You-in-the-Stages-of-Change2.pdf
This is a natural process for us to go through. We have to be able to walk the walk and be willing to give our body, mind and spirit over freely to transform. I invite you to join us at Mind Body Balance over the next 90 days and Believe in Your Ability to Upgrade YOU. It is your choice though- Do you choose to be transformed are you all in?

Transformation is a journey – we start off full of anticipation; but on a journey we can expect to get tired and weary. It is a journey after all. So, you will need to find your grit to push through; as this is an endurance journey. The journey of lifestyle transformation reminds me of an ultra-marathoner. My first exposure to this was when I read the book Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Kamazes. To finish is to accomplish the goal (lifestyle transformation takes 21 months) so forget the past and press on… one present moment at a time because your health is worth it. There will be moments of triumph and there will be moments of struggle. Will you make the journey and be transformed? Only you can decide to do the work.

Something deep inside of us is broken. It is why we struggle. We wish we could be different. The truth is, we are enough and we were built to change and grow. Don’t be surprised by suffering because no one gets a pass on this, trust me. We all experience suffering throughout our life more than once. We must prepare ourselves for a journey, right? We don’t just go to the airport and expect to get on, arrive and expect that there will be a hotel or that we have the spending money for our vacation on a moment’s notice. No, we plan, save, reserve and enjoy. We don’t just go on a road trip by hopping in the car and going… I mean it might go well and it might not. Instead, we map out directions… when we will stop… how long it will take to get there etc.

Where do you want to transform your life? Pick a place inside of you where you feel you are struggling, have pain, feel broken- it is time to do some “inside work” not just external work. Goals take you from brokenness to blessing, from pain to strength and from struggle to calm when you are motivated by love and dependent on YOU. Your goals reflect loving others and your higher spirit, whatever that might be. If you could have fixed you alone, you’d have done it by now- pick a stretch goal, get disciplined and go for it!

Things that you will need for our journey are:
• You need your spirit to empower you- something greater than your willpower to motivate you. Some people stay in disease and weakness because they’ve grown accustomed to the “streets and neighborhoods” they live in. They’ve become accustomed to the pain and sluggish, foggy existence. They say things like: “It’s just too much effort to change!” This way of thinking gets my blood boiling because it isn’t true, folks. You can change but you have to put your big kid panties on and find your grit!
• Personal Perseverance – I have the power to transform! Some worry that they will never make it to the end of the journey. Worry is using your imagination to create what you don’t want. The idea isn’t to stop ½ way through the journey – to make true change you have to get vulnerable, dig deep, sift through the mud, let go of our first world problems and endure the challenge.
• Words to guide us- when we “do life” alone we make a bigger mess than need be. Destination is transformation but we need support and guidance along the way. You will succeed. Saying you forgot, don’t have money for health or don’t have time are excuses that you feed yourself because you lack discipline, commitment and personal power.

If we want life changing movement we have to change the way we think, we need a community to support us and one hour a week doesn’t do it. One tank of gas to drive across the country doesn’t work. A person standing alone is easily beaten by another, but a person supported by 2 or 3 or more cannot be defeated. On one side you have your pain or struggle and across the other side lie your goals, motivation and healing. “Doing life” together – transforms lives- this is Mind Body Balance at its heart. When you have other believers who are further along the journey than you to support you – you move from pain to peace.

Do Amazing things; as all things are possible. You Can Fix You! Do you want to Believe in you? Transform? Be your Best Self? Join the Mind Body Balance Community and Start your Mind Body Balance Transformation today! We Inspire YOU to Movement! We teach Yoga, Classical Pilates, Fitness Coaching, willPower and grace®, Intuitive Eating and a variety of Transformative Workshops. Download our mobile app from your app store today “mindbodybalancellc” and start your journey now! What are you waiting for?

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Why is Movement the First thing to GO!

Okay, so, I love this.

I see a client maybe 2-5 times a week (which is about 2-5 hours) and the client is away from the studio 160-168 hours a week. Now, something starts to hurt, bother them, or they aren’t seeing results fast enough… All of sudden the mind jumps and says “It must be the Pilates, yoga, or… (whatever service) is causing this.” What???

Have you even thought about this for a minute?

Typically, a client might even have a history of 100+ hours of these services working for them, changing their body shape, reducing pain syndromes, helping them feel great with more energy, etc… I’m continuously amazed at how, all of a sudden, they are ready to bag in the services that have transformed your life because they’ve hit a hiccup somewhere else in their life.

I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to become injured while doing these services, because you can. Movement always needs to be respected and you need to learn how to get it to come from the right place in your body. But logic says that if you are only in the studio for 5% of your life and the other part of your life 95% is lived outside of the studio, you might want to at least consider that it could be coming from somewhere else.

I love the book Your Body Speaks Your Mind by Deb Chopera because a lot of the time it is an emotion causing the new discomfort in our life. When you are doing Pilates and Yoga you are doing very deep work. As you breathe and learn to work deep in your body, emotions come to the surface. If we don’t direct our awareness to them and heal them they start to cause disease in the body and mind.

Often times I think I’m dealing with something great! Then I lay down on the reformer or turn to my mat for yoga and go “HMMM!”

Slowing down enough to breathe, to move, removed some layers of armor and exposed something. What am I not dealing with in my life? Where am I stuck in my life? Wow, I guess my parent being in the hospital has left me feeling unstable? Etc. Thank the movement for showing you this, for bringing the emotion to your awareness. Be curious about it and then come at it with a heart of love to heal it. Movement Heals in so many ways!

Just consider that if you are singing the praises of your movement and all of sudden you want to drop it like a hot potato, it probably isn’t the movement. So, honor the teacher in front of you and be present in the moment with them. Be aware of your thoughts, connect with your breath and breathe with intention. Remember there are always two lessons being taught: the one in your head and the one the teacher is teaching. Which one are you showing up to?

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UGH Time to Go Workout!

Let me just be honest here a moment. I’m an Integrative Fitness Professional and I don’t love to work out.

I know my dirty little secret is out, because (if I’m being honest) there are days I would prefer to stay at home curled up in my p.j.’s all day sipping tea (or wine) and not at the studio.

I remember when I was new to making a lifestyle change and I would have this big argument in my head about going to work out. It was like New York City in there….okay, well, maybe I’m crazy but you know what I’m talking about.

You come up with all these reasons why you shouldn’t go and then as you get closer to the studio you hope that the instructor isn’t there and then even 5 minutes into the workout you are still negotiating to stay there and to be present in the lesson.

The conversation might go something like this: “Oh, I didn’t get to bed early enough last night. I’m so tired….hit the snooze. I think I’m coming down with something…. (starting to get dressed)… I know I’ll feel better when I get there….(starting the car)… I wonder if she’ll text me and say class is canceled. I could use the time at home to get ready for my week. Fat chance, she never cancels. I hate her….. (pulling up outside the studio)… Shit! She’s there. I have to go in…… (walking in the studio)… Why is she so chipper? I’m going to suck as usual in my lesson. I don’t know what she sees in me. Is this worth it? … (first 5 minutes into the lesson)… (The end of the lesson)…I feel great, I’m standing taller, I love her. Oh, I don’t need a medical overhaul " See you next time!”

As we practice the new behavior it becomes easier to embrace the lesson. It doesn’t mean the emotions we feel go away though.

See, when you are doing deep work in your body it brings up a lot of stuff that we have stuffed down into ourselves. Things we may have forgotten were still there. They come up into our consciousness because we have slowed down enough to breathe, feel and move. I guess you could say they have risen to the top surface of the water line, where, before, they were below the water line. Be curious to what has risen because once we are aware of it, we can start to heal it.

Movement is a gift, so not moving isn’t an option. Movement heals us. Two thirds of our medical expenses are because of the choices we make. Be empowered to except the gift of movement and allow it to heal you.

Please share your mind chatter pattern below and tell us your secret to taming it.

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Adjust your perspective and live a happier life.

“Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold” – Maurice Setter

When I used to work out of my home, I’d say “If I could just turn the key every morning on a commercial space I would be successful.” Then, one day I was down (as some small business owners get) and I realized, “What’s wrong with me? I’ve been turning the key for over a year now. I am successful! Celebrate!”

See, I had adjusted the bar to allow myself some modest success. It takes trial and error and perseverance to determine where the bar actually is. Levels of success need to be reachable on any long journey. I would never have made it to turning the key on my very first commercial space otherwise.

Don’t we do this in our health though, too? Stop and ask yourself how long you have been on your journey to change your lifestyle. How long have you been really taking steps each and every week consistently? If you’ve been on this journey for 4 months, 1 year, 2 years or more… then everyone is looking at you. They are looking at how successful you are. This is why I like my clients to use journals; so that you can look back at a year ago to see just how far you’ve come. It is hard for us to remember the different levels we reach if we aren’t keeping a log of our action, moods and thoughts.

You have a choice. You can moan about where you are and how little you’ve accomplished or you can celebrate what you have and how far you’ve come. I try to always remember to live in the celebration. Where we put our energy is what we will get, so I want to focus my energy on the positive and not on the negative. I would like to attract more positive actions into my life for they serve my goals better.

Be the most successful “You!”

Please post below what you are celebrating today.
To help yourself discover areas where you disappear into availability, write a list of circumstances in which you feel used or taken for granted. For each separate entry, ask yourself why you continue to act in a way that results in your feeling invisible and undervalued.

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Why are Mr. and Mrs. Jones Living My Life?

“There is neither greater glory than love nor any greater punishment than jealously.” — Lope de Vega

I’m sure you have people whom you are jealous of.
“Why do they always look perfect? Why do they have the latest fashions? Why are they in a higher position than me? Why did they get the promotion? Why does living healthy come easy to them? Why are they on TV and I’m not? Look! They can lift their butt up over their head and I can’t.”

Stop your whining already!

Okay, I whined a little when I first started my business. “Why did they have to choose the same lights as me? I picked downtown first. Why are all my competitors moving to downtown now? Why does she have a trust fund and I don’t?

Enough already, right?

There is always going to be someone. They pave the way. We also can’t be right for everything (or every person) so thank goodness for them. The world is big enough for all of us. With our hard work, will and desire we will reach our own success. We are all different people with different struggles in the same choir. Some are bass and some are tenors while others are sopranos and altos.

I’m always reminding clients “She has 100 more hours of practice than you and when you reach 200 hours of practice in your Pilates you will be doing that too.” Hard work and effort pays off every time. Applaud other people’s success because they point the way to your own success.

Please post someone else’s success that you are applauding today below.

Everyone has pebbles in their moccasins. If you feel lost in a labyrinth of other people’s demands and desires, try unearthing any unhealthy fears or beliefs you have that are allowing you to be taken for granted. Write them below by posting below.

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Don’t Approach Your Life with Dirty Dishes

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all have that person that comes to mind that we feel is perfect, never makes any mistakes, never says the wrong thing, never is angry with others or at herself.  This person just loves everyone and everyone loves them. They are admired and humbled.  We focus so much on this person that we feel bad about ourselves. No matter how hard we try we just can’t live up to the standards, the ideal.  It makes you crazy.

I ask this:  Why are you comparing your behind the scenes movie-reel with their highlight-reel?

Few of us would eat dinner on the dirty dishes of last night’s meal.  Why do we approach our life with the same cluttered, self-defeating and negative mind chatter? If you want to tackle your lifestyle change from that of old habits to new habits, you are going to have to put on a new record.

Face it, you are not perfect and you are not a saint.  You are human who makes mistakes.  You love and care for yourself and those around you. Take care of your own self-efficacy concerning health and fitness.  Be honest, faithful and true to yourself. Accept who you are in this moment and embrace your starting point.

Here is an affirmation to try out this month:

I am enough. I accept myself unconditionally just the way I am.

Please post below what dirty dish you struggle with and how you plan to approach it differently.

Because we are sentenced to the consequences of our accumulated thoughts, it is important that we learn to observe and elevate them. Write out some negative thoughts you commonly have and practice elevating them to positive thoughts. As an exercise in helping you observe and elevate your thoughts, imagine that everyone can read your mind. When a negative thought comes into your mind that you would rather keep to yourself, acknowledge it non-judgmentally and then replace it with an uplifting one.

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“Suspicious Procrastination”

Well, it’s been three weeks since I typed out the first blog.  I’ve been eyeing the box of pills and liquids suspiciously over the course of the last three weeks.  That’s why I typed the blog in the first place… accountability.  Clearly, being married to a fitness professional hasn’t inspired me to movement; I need the entire blogosphere to wonder what’s been up and why I haven’t written about the “great healthification of a stubborn middle-aged man.”

What?  You didn’t expect the fat guy to just jump in and do “health” professionally did you?  I don’t actually “do” health; in fact, quite the opposite.  My brain compels me to eat poorly and move little.

I have been a smoker.  I think it’s been almost nine years since I’ve smoked as a habit.  I still want a cigarette when stressed out or after a big meal or with my coffee or while drinking alcohol.  This is likely a sign of an addictive personality (if there is such a thing).  My assumption is that it will be much the same as quitting smoking when dealing with foods that I like to overeat.  I need some “brain re-training.”   Portion control, meal planning, changing my taste buds to crave fruit, vegetables and whole grains… these are all things that I know will happen.  The last three weeks, I’ve been putting it off.

If you stare at a “box of health” suspiciously long enough, It starts to stare suspiciously back at you.  This is why treadmills are always covered in clothes… to cover up the stare.  Thankfully, all of my exercise equipment is in a big, open, inviting studio run by my wife.  I never need to go there if I don’t want to.  This is a very effective way to avoid the suspicious stares of exercise equipment. 

Now, I have a new reason to procrastinate the start of the program.  Kim has told me that she would like to do the cleanse portion with me.  This is the beginning of the program that I’ve got in the box, so now I can wait until after Easter dinner.  Mind you, just because I’m not starting the cleanse, that’s no reason not to start with the other items on the list.  I could start eating better and moving more.  I won’t… because… you know…

Have you ever stopped to think about how close together eating holidays and personal celebrations are.  Americans are hard pressed to have two solid weeks without a food related celebration of some sort.  There are cupcakes in the office.  It’s your child’s birthday.  Your buddy is having a March Madness-all-day-basketball-a-thon.  These are real things! And there is no way to avoid them.  The only correct thing to do is to retrain yourself to handle them correctly.  I’ve heard it’s possible to have 1-2 cupcakes.  I know!  That sounds crazy, right?  I’ve heard it’s possible to eat a full meal of something healthy before going over to your Buddy’s house so that you don’t stuff yourself with the awesome crap that his wife has dutifully spent hours making for you fat old men.  Really!  I’m not making this up. 

A small amount of awesome crap is okay.  A person should never try to eliminate awesome crap.  It’s what makes us happy.  I have also heard that once a person’s fully re-trained, you don’t really want awesome crap as much and that it makes you feel kind of sick when you over-indulge.  This is the end goal, right?  To be so healthy that your body rejects awesome crap and you don’t crave it?  I think that’s the end goal, and most likely the reason it takes so long to change a lifestyle. 

I cannot imagine not craving Chili-Mac, or being utterly satisfied with a healthy version.  Who would that person be?  Not this guy.  Just typing the words Chili-Mac has made my mouth water.  Imagine spending all day Sunday cooking up the perfect Chili with sausage and burger, making it a little too spicy on purpose.  Imagine putting it in a lasagna pan and topping it with homemade Shrimp or Lobster Mac-and-cheese and baking it in the oven, covered in crackers until they are nicely toasted and the cheese is bubbly… and…  Sorry… Went off the rails a little bit.

What was I talking about?  Oh, suspicious procrastination.  Yeah, um, It’s bad, and I, um, need to try to work on that.  Right now I need to go get ingredients for Chili-Mac and prepare myself for the cleanse following Easter dinner.

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What do you do when life falls apart?

“Human beings are not helpless. They have never been helpless. They have only been deflected or deceived or dispirited. So long as people have a vision of life as it ought to be…they can look at the world with…confidence.” –Norman Cousins

Well it happens to all of us one day in our world, our life starts to slip… it starts feeling like life, itself, is falling apart. If this is you at the time of reading this blog, please know you are not alone. We all have stories. It is one of the reasons we do a video party every year asking our clients to tell their story just once in front of the camera. Each story is unique it will appeal and inspire someone else and give them the courage to walk into the Mind Body Balance Community.

This blog is inspired by the book The Ten Things to do When Your Life Falls Apart by Daphne Rose Kingma. Yes, this book is not only part of my yoga training, it also came to me at a time that I needed it the most.

“We all like to stay on the little crutches that are familiar.” –Jules Zimmer

I love this quote because I (like the rest of us) love the crutches even though I know they aren’t stable. I love the familiar because the unfamiliar is, well, just unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and scary. I know that some of my clients don’t like the word journey, but our life really is a journey of evolution. By evolution, I mean growing into our spirit and coming into (and accepting) all that we are fully capable of being.

I know we all like to hang out in our comfort zone, but we really need to be stretched so that we don’t atrophy our body, mind and spirit. The universe whispers to us these growth patterns and if we don’t react it will start urging and insisting. This urging and insisting stage is when we feel life is falling apart. We start to take a survey of our life, looking for clues of how we got off track.
Let’s follow this example. We put on about 10lbs, our stress level seems high, it is hard to get out of bed in the morning and come midafternoon we just don’t have the zest we used to have. These are all whispers. One day we wake up and we have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and we wake up one day in the hospital as we’ve just suffered a small heart attack. These are all events of life falling apart, right! Daphne has a couple of steps she suggests that we think about:
• As far as you can tell, what is the crisis asking you to do differently?
• The name of your crisis is?
• The purpose of this crisis is to get me to?

For example, I will start to do a 10 minute meditation every afternoon at 3 p.m.. I will start to take a 10 minute walk after every meal that I eat all days of the week every week. I will hire a fitness coach so that I can learn how to exercise my heart by doing cardiovascular exercise.

“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.” –Michael Peake

Boy we can all relate to this one. Just think back to that first love you had and how hard you tried to make it work because you really, really, really thought they were the one. Can’t you look back now and laugh at yourself. I’ve learned over the years that when I feel like I’m trying really hard to get something to work I stop and ask “Why are you really doing this to yourself Kim?” A square peg doesn’t fit into a round hole. If you need to try this hard, it obviously isn’t the thing you thought it was.

Letting go is scary it takes courage to step out into the unknown. You leave your tears at the doorway when you step into this new future. It also means that you are taking responsibility to be the pilot of your life. I’m sure you can relate to one of these: getting a divorce, letting a friend go, quitting your job, selling your house, letting go of your self-image, etc.
Having to let go of how things were or our expectation of how the future is supposed to look like can send us into an identity crisis. We have to sit with ourselves and big emotions, forcing us to reevaluate ourselves and our choices.

That is heavy stuff!

Doing this heavy work sets us free. Can you surrender to find happiness? Can you surrender to find success? Daphne says “Don’t hang on. It’s hard to fly with bags of concrete tied to your feet. Let go. Let go. Let go.” I struggle with letting go and so my personal affirmation (that I say all the time) ends with the words “I can let go!”

“He knows not his own strength that has not met adversity.” –Ceasare Pavese

Ugh! This is what is meant when my mother tells me I’m a survivor after I’ve poured out all of my latest misery. I mean, can’t life just come with a nice, neat little handbook on having a perfect, successful, peaceful whatever….marriage, life, career, child you name it.

I know… life wouldn’t be life. Why? We are all unique, we all have these spectacular qualities. If we didn’t experience “life” we wouldn’t grow these character strengths. When our world is shifting beneath us… that continuous thread of our life, our power, our charm, our talent, our personal essence develops and we rise to the occasion at hand.
As a fitness coach one of the first things we do is find out what your top five character strengths are. This is because these strengths are your extraordinary talents that (no matter what circumstances you face) will carry you through to the other side.

Persistence gives us grace, even when we feel trapped in hell, a hell that most likely occurred by our choices. Integrate this circumstance and embrace it into your life, making it part of your fabric.

“Do what you can. Where you are. With what you have.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Take this opportunity to simplify your life, reduce your material items, your stuff, lighten your calendar by letting go of obligations, let go of other people’s expectations and live your life… the life you were meant to lead. Being overweight, obesity or sciatica is unexpressed emotion

Love! Love! Love!

As a globe, we are facing so many uncertainties, such a struggle. We all face crises. For those who say they do not have crises, embrace them more, for they don’t know how to face it on their own. We are a species that can become unconscious, not present in our daily moments, and forget how to be compassionate, loving, and helpful. Love starts with each of us. If we cannot love ourselves, then how can we let someone else in to love us too. It isn’t about being perfect. That is exhausting. It is about loving who we are at this moment; loving our flaws, loving our uniqueness practicing to be fully engaged in our life in the present moment.

We become so scared, even terrified, as the old body/ habits disappear, and as we go out into the dark, exploring being comfortable, the void, the land in-between, and if we can then accept the new body/ the rebirth, happiness, a new consciousness… a new way of being will slowly rise before us.

Please post below and let us know the following:
Having you had an experience in life that made you feel like life was falling apart? Did this experience change your view of life? Do you have a spiritual practice that helps you stay engaged in the present moment? (i.e., walking, watching the sunset, yoga, meditation, dancing, music, etc.)

If you choose to really live, you will need to accept a certain amount of grief as well. If we don’t avail ourselves of emotional support at difficult times, we run the risk of closing our hearts in order to escape sorrow. Who do you lean on during difficult times?

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