Friday, January 31, 2014

40 Days of Personal Revolution: Week 4

wait a second! I missed week 3!? Actually I did not miss week three (which focused on equanimity - "the art of meeting life calmly, without drama or fuss"), but boy was it BUSY!! Days one and two were on par with the rest of my 40 days, but starting on Friday, I was in the mountains with 14 of my closest friends skiing for three days to celebrate my 30th birthday!!!
We had three ABSOLUTELY gorgeous days on the mountain (one day at Beaver Creek and two at Vail) and it was the best 30th Birthday I could have ever asked for!!!
 
 5 girls in a tub for two hours...?? yes it was as amazing as it sounds!
 
 
 me and my best bunny!
 
(my amazing home made birthday card from Ashley!!)

After a full day of skiing on Sunday, I finally made it home at 8pm only to leave town on Monday morning for a 4-day trip to Boston - definitely was not excited about the trip, but I gots to pay those bills! 

I have to admit, it was really tough to keep up with the program with almost an entire a week away from home, but I just promised myself that I would do the best I could and not punish myself for not being perfect... and I think it went pretty well. I did manage to get yoga and meditation in on Friday (although I skipped Saturday and Sunday) and then I did all of my yoga and almost all of my meditation in Boston (including two airplane meditation sessions, one visit to a local yoga studio and a couple hotel yoga sessions)
(hotel yoga is not very glamorous or inspiring, but sometimes it's' the best you can do!)

Now that I'm back, it is time to start week 4, where the focus is on Restoration... which is EXACTLY what I need after a totally crazy week 3, so I'm super excited about how it has worked out.  This week includes a three-day fruit cleanse (which I will do on the last three days of the week, sparing myself from the futile task of trying to eat only fruit on Super Bowl Sunday!)

In week four, Baron asks us to "stay in the moment and relax in all of your activities" I have no doubt that all of this relaxing is going to take some work! A lot of mindfulness, patience with myself, and practice, but it is definitely something I need and so I'm happy to have this week as a means to focus on this part of my life. 

2013 was an absolutely INSANE year for me, I traveled 130 days, which is just crazy, and even though a lot of those trips were personal ones and were SUPER fun and amazing, it still made for a very hectic life.  At the beginning of 2014 I made somewhat of a resolution to clam down this year, reduce the number of obligations in my life (even those that are personal and fun like dinner parties and trips to the mountains) and just in general slow down a bit. But now here we are one month into the new year and already I have something planned for every weekend through to March!

So Week 4 of my 40 Days to Personal Revolution is a great time to REALLY focus on sitting still in life, relaxing in the everyday, reducing the number of things on my plate, and as Baron says, to "learn to pace myself, to learn when to retreat and escape from the daily grind and take some time to clear my head, rest my body, and restore my soul." And so that is what I plan to do this week!

I'll be back again blogging soon, because there are a lot of great things in the laws of transformation for this week and last week that I want to share with you, but for now, it's back to work for me! Till next time, Namaste!
Check out this awesome "Magic Carpet Yoga Mat" my mom got me for my birthday! It is totes cray!!! :-) Thanks Momma!!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

40 Days to Personal Revolution: When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Now that I am 13 days in to my 40-day program, I can see why we are working on Laws 3&4 in week two... because things are getting a little bit uncomfortable and this thing definitely takes commitment!

As I've gone through the week, I've tried to keep in mind this paragraph from Law 4: Commit to Growth
Are you experiencing cravings? instead of reaching out, just stay with them. Is anxiety rising? Stay. Are fear and anger out of control? Stay. Are your muscles quaking, are you running out of steam? Stay anyway. Are your hips screaming in pigeon pose? okay, but stay. We are the only ones who know and hear our internal dialogues, and we are the only ones who can make the choice to stay and unfold. Almost always, there is a breakthrough waiting for you right over the horizon.
So how am I doing?  Well, the program essentially has four components:
  1. Journaling (through weekly "excavation questions")
  2. Twice daily meditation practice
  3. Daily yoga
  4. Diet changes
I've got the journaling thing down, but that only needs to be done once per week (or maybe a couple times, if you don't do it all in one sitting).  Here is a look at how I'm faring with the rest of it (which require attention every single day!):

Yoga:  So far I am doing great with my yoga attendance. I did 8 yoga classes in the first week (taking one day completely off and doubling up twice).  BUT just a day or two into the second week I was feeling absolutely exhausted.  I decided not to double up at all this week and again completely took Sunday off.  My wrists were hurting earlier in the week (probably because I wasn't using proper form all of the time, but also because I spent a lot of time working on my hand stands) and in general I was feeling pretty exhausted.  I took yesterday off and am feeling much better today, so I'm ready to get back to class tonight, but I must admit that I was surprised that even for myself (someone who already was working out 5-7 days/week often times with much more vigorous activity than yoga), daily yoga is definitely a challenge!

Meditation:  Woof... this is also a challenge.  Working from home certainly helps, I'm rarely running late in the morning, so my first daily session is not much of a struggle for me.  I basically get out of bed, use the washroom, and immediately do my meditation.  The evening.. that is another story.  I'm tired, maybe cranky, I'd rather hang out with Nick, or maybe I just want to watch a new episode of Grey's Anatomy.... there could be 1,000 excuses not to meditate on any given night, but that is really all they are: excuses.  So far Wed / Thurs / Friday I did get in two sessions of meditation, Saturday I did just one, Sunday I didn't do any!!! (GASP!) and today I'm back on track...  so we'll see how it all goes, but this one is a bit of a chore for me.

As far as the duration, last week we did 5 minute sessions and that was absolutely a piece of cake. This week is 10 minutes and I'm meeting it with mixed feelings.  I spend a good chunk of time acknowledging that my mind has wandered and bringing it back to the present moment... and then finding that my mind has wandered again, and bringing it back... and again and again. It is certainly a practice and I am definitely a novice...  but it is a work in progress.

Diet:  This week the goals for the diet are to incorporate more whole foods into your diet. The goal is for what you eat to look as close as possible to what it looked like when it came from it's source: whole fruits and veggies, whole grains, unprocessed lean cuts of meat....  The first day I was a little overwhelmed thinking about all the places I could / should change what I eat, but thankfully Katy talked me down on Wednesday night and suggested to the group that we simply commit to making one or two substitutions in our diet for the week, like substituting cheese for a piece of whole fruit.

Her advice reminded me of what it said in the book: to listen to your body and slowly make small sustainable changes - change begets change and I need to be careful not to over do it and then sabotage the whole thing for myself... so this week I focused just on two things: reducing the amount of processed cereal grains I eat (mainly bread but also cereal which I like to eat on the weekends), and reducing the amount of processed dairy (yogurt and cheese) that I eat. There is definitely room for improvement in my diet, but I must admit that I have eaten a TON more fruits and veggies this week than last week, so I think so far this is a success.... (except for yesterday when I ate pizza for lunch and chicken wings and a sampler of fried appetizers for dinner!)

All in all things are going well, it has been a challenge, but one that I think is really good and productive for me. I absolutely love my yoga studio and I love to go there every day and see all the other transformers in the studio, so that definitely helps me to stay on track.  Now that I'm into this, I also see why it is important to go to the little meetings we have on Wednesday evenings, because this is a lot of work and the camaraderie that comes with doing it in a group is definitely a motivator.
Starting Friday I will be on the road (first on a birthday ski trip and then to Boston for work) for almost an entire week, so things are about to get tricky, but so far I'm pretty happy with how well I've stuck to the program and I'm ready to head to my next yoga class.. which starts in 25 minutes!  




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

40 Days to Personal Revolution: Week 2 Begins

Whoop Whoop, here comes week two in my 40 Days to Personal Revolution journey! 

Week one was wonderful, I even got my first ever solo scorpion pose (albeit with a little help from the wall!) 
video

I am super excited about Week Two (with the theme Vitality) and this morning I completed my first 10-minute meditation and am happy to report that it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. 

One of the things that has me most excited about week two is that I was really inspired by this week's "Laws of Transformation" and I want to share some of it with you.  

The first is Law 3: Step out of Your Comfort Zone, let me share some of Baron's words with you:
The comfort zone may feel cozy and familiar, but it is like a sweet poison, silently killing off our childlike spontaneity and our vitality. When we choose our comfort zone over growth we get stuck or worse, because ultimately we are either awakening and growing or numbing out and spiraling downward. Life is never static - we either grow or we die.
....
If we don't step out of the known - the comfort zone - we bring yesterday's limited thinking into the present, therefore dooming the present to be just like the past. We will keep repeating and doing the same things again and again, getting the same results, and then complain, "Nothing ever changes in my life." .... We seek proof of why we can't change, and all kinds of reasons why we won't let go of our dramas, stresses, resentments, fears, or self-destructive ways of being.
That is some great stuff! But still, it can leave you thinking 'yeah that is great, I should break out of my comfort zone, but what does that really mean, how do I go about doing that.... easier said than done Baron!"

But thankfully the chapter doesn't end there, he goes on to explain that "stepping out of our comfort zone has more to do with the simplicity of forgiveness and self-honesty than it does with a grandiose breaking out of some box."  It's not about dropping everything and traveling the world, or putting yourself into uncomfortable situations, it's about being honest with yourself about where you are comfortable, how have you cornered yourself into comfortable patterns in life that aren't serving your best interests and then acknowledging those patterns, and letting go of them (like a security blanket) to make room for a better future for ourselves.  He says, "We veer away from taking that journey inward and therefore out of our comfort zone, not realizing that the way out is in."

Law 4: Commit to Growth was a great follow up, because let's face it... change is hard. It is a constant struggle to stay out of your comfort zone and commit to long term change, and once you've incorporated one small change in your life, and gotten comfortable again, to make another change and commit to that.  

So Law 4 encourages us to focus on making the decision to grow (to step out of our comfort zone) and then to remain steadfast with ourselves, our commitments, and our personal revolutions.
Never making a decision is a decision unto itself. If is a decision to stay in a personal fog. Staying in the confusion is safe, because in the fog, we never have to face the mundane that comes with committing to a path. Everyone tries to avoid the mundane path, but that is the path that makes us grow.

......
When we practice yoga and meditation, when we practice staying clear and conscious around food, or when we stay conscious of our reactions in all our relationships, we are strengthening our ability to be steadfast with ourselves. We are in discipleship. The word disciple comes from the same root as discipline. to be a disciple of your revolutions means to be committed fully to doing the right thing, learning the lessons, and being open to the whole range of experiences that arise along the path. 
And he encourages us to stick with it when things get hard - because "almost always there is a breakthrough waiting for you right over the horizon."

As you can see, I'm starting Week Two of my Personal Revolution off with a bang - really excited to try and focus my energy for the next 7 days on stepping out of my comfort zone and committing to growth.   

And so, as I begin my second week, I will leave you with an inspirational video I found on a fellow yogi's blog.... Yoga Rocks!!
 

Monday, January 13, 2014

40 Days to Personal Revolution: Week 1 Wrap Up

Tomorrow is my last day of week 1, so I thought it would be a good time to check back and see how week 1 of my 40-day Personal Revolution has been coming along.  
this is the wall outside my yoga studio, it says "you are beautiful"

Amazingly I have actually done everything I was supposed to do, including meditating twice a day for 5 minutes each. 

So far the meditating is going pretty well, it is not difficult at all for me to do it in the morning, a little more difficult to find time away to do it in the evening (I prefer to do it when no one else is in the apartment, so it's hard for me to motivate myself and to focus when Nick is home), but 5 minutes is really a cake-walk when it comes to meditating.  However, I can tell that this is really going to be the biggest challenge for me moving forward.  Next week is 10 minutes twice a day and the program builds to 30 minutes twice a day by the end... woof! That is a big time commitment - and I would be lying if I said I wasn't intimidated by it!

I think the thing that will help the most will be finding good guided meditation tracks because staying present, with a clear mind for 5 minutes is definitely doable - but I really don't know how I'll be able to handle 30... I guess that is why the program takes it's time building up from 5, so I am going to really try to stick with it and see if this meditation thing is all it's cracked up to be. 

As I mentioned in my last post, the theme of this week was presence, and I did work really hard to try and be more present in my daily life this week.  The biggest thing for me was to make a conscious decision to keep my phone tucked away instead of out in front of me all the time - because I think my phone and iPad are really the biggest hurdles I have to being present most of the time.  Another thing I focused on was trying to really be present during life's most mundane points, which is when I tend to check-out the most: running errands (for example, standing in line at the post office - try to be present AND not be annoyed... now that is a challenge for any zen master), sitting on my couch with Nick, trudging through emails at work... really trying not to let any moment slip by unnoticed.  It's definitely a challenge and I certainly didn't succeed in every moment in the last week, but I think even a small change in perspective and presence is a success.  I expect that being present all the time is a life-long challenge that I don't think anyone can accomplish in just 7 days. 

Whether it was just the excitement of the first 5 days, the meditation, the food diary we  are all supposed to keep, or simply the active practice of being present, I definitely notice that I am already making better food choices and being much more mindful of what I am putting into my body. I didn't make any big changes this week, but I am gearing up for the second week which focuses on incorporating more whole foods into my diet and avoiding processed foods. 
One of my "green monster" smoothies I've been drinking: spinach, an orange, and apple, pineapple, coconut milk, arbonne fiber boost, arbonne digestion plus w/ probiotics, flax seeds, and chia seeds.. YUM!

Of course, my favorite part of the whole thing is all the yoga I get to do. I took a day off on Saturday (since we are supposed to be giving ourselves one day off per week), but have still done 6 yoga classes in 5 days - I doubled up on Wednesday and Sunday.  I would pretty much spend all day doing Yoga if I could, I love it so much! Typically I ride my bike to Yoga, but it's been cold and snowy, so I've been using Denver's Car2Go to bop around the city and it is so fun and easy to use, I love it (PLUS look how freakin' cute the thing is!)

Anyway, I think week one was a success - I am still super excited about everything and am pretty proud of myself for sticking to it for 5 whole days! haha. Hopefully our weekly meetings and this blog will help me to stay committed for the next 35 - I have a feeling as time goes on it will become more and more challenging to stick to it. 

That's all for now, see you soon and Namaste! :-) 


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

40 Days to Personal Revolution: Here I Go! (Day 1)

I'm back again after a (too) long break from blogging, but I am super excited about the beginning of 2014 (I'm about to turn the big 3-0!!!) and to share with you my "40 Day Personal Revolution."  As many of you know, I started doing yoga a couple of years ago and have been ramping up my practice ever since. In 2013 I really picked up the pace and have been practicing regularly 2-4 times a week (occasionally 5 or 6 days in a week) for over a year now. 
Remember this pic of the day from April 2012?  I have to say my form is much improved these days!
and this one from November 2012?

Back in September, one of my favorite Yoga teachers, Katy Rowe, introduced me to The River Yoga studio and I have absolutely fallen in love with the space, so when the New Year came around and they had a '40 Days to Personal Revolution' workshop I knew right away I was going to sign up. 

The program goes through Baron Baptiste's book "40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Breakthrough Program to Radically Change Your Body and Awaken the Sacred Within Your Soul."  
 
We will meet every Wednesday evening with Katy Rowe (who is leading the workshop) to go through the book, the intentions / goals for each week, and discuss the program. Tonight is our first meeting, but I've already started reading the book and I am so excited about it that I couldn't even wait until the meeting was over to get started writing about it. 

The theme for this week is presence - which I think is a WONDERFUL way to start the program. Particularly with our digital lives these days, I think that all of us could do with a little more presence in our daily routine (speaking of which, I saw this video today and I think it completely fits in with this week's theme)
(for some reason this video isn't showing in all browsers, here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8)

The book has twelve laws of transformation (you focus on two each week) and this week our two laws to focus on are:

Law #1 Seek the truth - mainly seeking the truth about yourself and accepting that truth just as it is
Law #2 Be willing to come apart - this is about being willing to give up control (or the illusion of control) that we try to maintain over everything in our lives. Stop trying to fight through life forcing everything and everyone to conform to your own idea of how things should be and just letting go.

On top of that, I will be committing to yoga 6 days / week for the entire program, plus meditation twice / day, and reevaluating and transforming my diet.  It is going to be a lot of work.

I already have plans to go to yoga this evening at The River, and this morning I did my first 5 minute meditation session, which I guess was relatively successful. I think the meditation is something where I might just have to show up, trust the process, and see where it takes me. I have never really meditated before so this is something completely new to me, but I am really going to try to follow through for 40 days without judging it and I will decide at the end whether or not meditation is something I want to continue.

Finally the last component of the program is to transform your diet.  I actually started working n my diet a couple of months ago, changing things little by little - removing hormone-laden dairy, eating more organic and non-GMO food, etc. and so I'm really excited for the challenge and inspiration to take it another step further. On the flip side, I'm under no illusion that this is going to be easy and I'm more than a little apprehensive about the whole thing.  I feel like I have a generally healthy diet (for the most part) and it just takes so much darn work to think about what I'm eating instead of just mindlessly eating the same thing every day (like my egg sandwich for breakfast EVERY DAY)...  so I'm facing this portion of the program with both excitement and apprehension.

The nice thing is that the book really isn't giving you a specific diet. Instead he is encouraging you to be mindful of what you eat, listen to your body, and make small changes that are intuitive for yourself, so that is going to be my goal. Thankfully the diet portion for the first week is really more focused on mindfulness - noticing what your current eating patterns are - than about change (although we are of course encouraged to start making some small changes to balance out our diet)... so that should (hopefully) help me to ease into the whole thing.  

Ok well I guess that is all for now, I'm so excited about tonight but I need to be present in the now (and get to work)! I will leave you with another video that I found today... very fitting.
(again here is the video link if you can't see it in your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-8IPDR4Khc)