5 Tips to Reduce Stress When Waves of Stress Knock You Down

Many times life throws us unexpected curve balls. And sometimes it can feel unbearable and overwhelming. I would love to say that yoga and meditation should be your go to fix for stress relief, but the reality is that when a crisis strikes there are times when the situation is so cumbersome that we barely have time to eat and sleep, let alone practice. So, what can you do?

Well, in my personal life I have experienced one of these waves of grief this week where I felt like I was going to go down at times. Fortunately I am still here so I would like to share with you not only how I am surviving, but also how I am thriving.

My dad has survived three kinds of cancers for years and was doing well until a little over a month ago when he was diagnosed with a rare debilitating lung disease, which is causing his one lung to scar gradually and his breathing to become more difficult. As hard as it is to watch a man who I love so dearly struggle, I can handle this knowing that he is 87 years old and has lived a full life. But then in the last month a waterfall of other problems have ensued. The father of my children was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that less than .06% of people suffer from and is still not getting relief. And now my mom, who has always been healthy as an Ox and the caregiver of the family, suddenly started having trouble recalling what she wanted to say and began losing some muscle control on the right side of her body. This led to multiple trips to doctors and hospitals for many tests. The days have slipped by as I helped my parents deal with this crisis where I have not had time to step onto my mat. My house was a disaster and I was exhausted, but I realized I was doing what really matters. I was spending time with my parents, delivering home cooked meals that I knew appealed to them, attending doctors visits and being present. Family will always come first to me. This is really my living yoga and sometimes we have to step away from the mat to realize this.

My brother, my sister and I are working lovingly together to help find answers to get to the bottom of my mom's health issues. Our coming together has brought us closer as a family and that is the gift that is coming out of this difficult time. My mom will see a neurologist next week. Meanwhile I am taking a day to PAUSE and catch up on life.

So, here are my Top Five Tips for Relieving Overwhelming Stress:

    1. Make lists! Separate your to do lists into priority categories so that you absolutely know what must get done each day, what is not so urgent, and what can be eliminated.

    2. Ask for help! Especially in a time of need never hesitate to let friends and family help. It makes them feel good and it lifts a weight from your shoulders, too!

    3. Seek counsel. Please do not hesitate to go to counseling or therapy, especially in heavy times. If time is short, often therapists will do a phone session.

    4. DO NOT ISOLATE. Surround yourself with those who love you when you go through difficult times. They will help carry your burdens, help you laugh and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    5. Take it one day at a time. Stay present, stay positive and always hope for the best. There is tremendous power in positivity!

I hope that these tips will bring you comfort in your times of high stress. Also, remember that we can slow our stress response by regulating our breathing. So, practice nice deep slow inhalations and nice deep slow exhalations. Breathe in love, breathe out love. 

Peace, Light and Love,

Libby

P.S. - Stress is a huge cause of health problems. Please try to manage your stress before it takes a toll on your health. We cannot avoid stress, but how we respond to it is really the key to living a Total Soulful Journey of Health & Wellness! <3

 

 

Nothing is What You Think it Is....

Is life really a grand illusion? Perhaps that is why we are fascinated with magic tricks? Nothing is really what we think it is. Nothing is what you expect. Expectations are really the root of so much heartache. Why is it that we put so much emphasis on external factors? We wear masks to protect others from who we really are. We post photos that make us look as if we live a grand or fun filled life all the time when in reality most of us struggle to keep our heads above water with busy schedules, hectic lifestyles and tight budgets. 

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What is it that is really important to you? What would bring you peace of mind? Just contemplate those two things for a moment. And then ask yourself, What really IS peace of mind?

I would like you to consider peace of mind really being ultimate enlightenment. Isn't that what we all strive for? Isn't it a place of happiness where worries, struggles and fears fade away? Perhaps it is different for each of us? I do not pretend to hold all the answers, but I do believe that it makes sense to think that when we arrive at a place where we accept and are happy with ourselves, we can then accept everyone as equals around us. Through acceptance we then discover ultimate happiness.

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So start loving yourself.  Work through anything you are holding onto from your past. Forgive and  honor yourself, and work toward this ultimate goal. Believe me when I tell you it IS attainable and YOU are worth it. Life is a journey of awareness and mindfulness. Be kind and gentle with yourself and with others. If you need help, it is ok to seek counsel and read self help books, for knowledge is power when put into action.

As you begin this work week be mindful to practice acceptance and observe how much happier you start to feel as a result.

Wishing you a wonderful week,

Libby 

What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love; 3 Ways to Combat Violence using Yogic Philosophy

There is so much tragedy in this world. The sad truth is we are not guaranteed tomorrow. However, it is important to step out of fear and darkness and live the life we love each and every day. Go after your dreams, tell the people you love that you appreciate them, and say the things that matter. Horrific incidents, such as the massacre in Las Vegas are reminders to Live the Life we Love EVERYDAY. We have to try to find something positive in everything bad or we run the risk of feeling helpless and depressed. As we send healing prayers and hold the families who are grieving today and in the coming days, weeks and months in our hearts, it is important to use this time to rise up and come together as a community.

Terrible events like this mass shooting, as well as any obstacle I come across in my personal life, remind me to return back to my personal Yoga Philosophy.  There are three main principles that I live and breathe by that have helped me get through countless difficult times including; my physical and verbal abuse, recovering from PTSD, counseling and supporting others, helping my parents go through physical set backs, nurturing my own children and the ups and downs of my daily life. The following three principles when followed will truly lead you to a better place; one of growth,  lightness, clarity, strength, compassion, and most importantly a place of universal oneness.

  1. Awareness - It begins with the physical practice on the mat and carries into daily life. Be aware of your words, actions and feelings. Then be aware of those around you.
  2. Acceptance - Accept yourself exactly where you are in each moment. You do not have to be perfect, you just have to show up and try your best. Strive for progress. And then accept those around you where they are, as well. Let go of expectations.
  3. Forgivenesses - Forgive yourself for any mistakes you make along the way. Consider those mistakes a way to learn and grow. Forgive those around you. Holding grudges and shaming people causes resentment and negativity.

Above all practice self love. First Love Yourself (F.L.Y.) then love all others. Once we realize we are all in this together, the feelings of separation, anxiety, hatred and violence vanish and unity takes their place. Once we get to this place of ONENESS, life is beautiful.  

Of course, in times of mass shootings the subject of mental illness arises as we search for a reason for how and why a human being could take so many innocent lives. And then, of course, there are issues of gun control that feed our fears and cause more division among us. The truth is we will never have all the answers, but let's avoid circular arguments that make us feel self righteous and realize that such acts of hate most often, at their roots, result from an absence of love and other stigmas that make a person feel an overwhelming sense of darkness.  

When someone in our family suffers from cancer or another disease, we wrap our arms around them, bring them meals and nurture them with tender loving care. But when someone we know is diagnosed with a serious Mental Illness, our discomfort and shame often hold us back from helping and comforting them because of the negative stigma associated with a serious mental health issue. That person then isolates and disconnects from society. When they withdraw, their perception of reality becomes even more distorted. These stigmas around mental health issues create even more damage in the long run and contribute to the downward spiral of the person who needs love, support and treatment from mental health providers. Mental health is not a topic that we can afford to sweep under the rug and out of sight. It should be talked about and treated like any disease. 

In my research I discovered some startling statistics that I would like to share with you about mental health. 1 in 5 American adults have a mental health condition - thats over 40 MILLION Americans. Mental Health problems among our youth are also on the rise. In 2011 8.5% were depressed and in 2014 that number rose to 11.1%. What is even more startling is that 80% of those youth were either insufficiently treated or not treated at all. Compound this with the media’s negative attention on horrific situations such as these mass killings, and the people who need help tend to shy away and hide rather than coming into the light to seek help. 

It is not wrong to view mental illness as a disease, but to assume it is hopeless and to associate it with shame only worsens the situation. The last thing we want to do is make the person feel so desperate and void of love, connection, emotion and empathy that they become compelled to murder. Also, people who play video games while isolated, often disassociate the feelings of human connection with real life people. This process of desensitization can carry over to real life violence when one’s sense of reality becomes completely blurred. 

Ultimately we need to turn these tragic events into a time to reflect on love. It is a reminder that what the world needs now more than ever is Love Sweet Love.  What we ALL need is love sweet love. Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the negative energy of this sad occasion. Instead hold the lives of the people lost up with the honor that they deserve. They were special people. They each had a story. They each had a dream. Unfortunately, for reasons that we will never understand, their lives ended too soon and abruptly. May peace be with their families and friends.  

There are many things in life we cannot understand. It is important, however, that we simply keep going. Pray and believe that better days are coming. Continue to give love. Understand that it is ok to feel every emotion and it is also ok to not know and not to understand why this happened. 

Fall reminds us that life is ever changing. Take a moment this season to reflect on what really matters to you. Use this time to set your intention for how you can become the best version of yourself. Live the life you love TODAY, tell the people you love that you love them! Just as the trees shed their leaves, think about a few things you might need to let go of in order to make room for improvements in your life. You were created to be a joyful and successful being. Connect with friends and family. Avoid isolation and reach for the stars!  If you feel that you might suffer from a mental illness, do not feel alone for there is hope and help for you.

Remember that light always overcomes darkness, just as love overcomes evil. When we love ourselves we are able to love others. So I ask you especially in these times of darkness to dig deep, plant your roots of compassion and shine your love light. Show the world that peace and love will conquer evil and that love is really all that we need. 

Love and Light,

Libby

 

P.S. ~ If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts or PTSD, there are people who can help you. Witnessing a horrible event like the concert shooting in Las Vegas can trigger symptoms for months to come. If you were at this concert or have friends and family who were there, please practice awareness, acceptance and forgiveness. Be gentle and loving with yourselves. I am sending you healing vibes and much love.

• Click here for PTSD Hotline & Crisis Phone Numbers

F.L.Y. - Put your Oxygen Mask On First

You were born with a distinct and unique purpose. You have a gift and a story to share with the world. For some of us that purpose seems more obvious while others may search a long time wondering what their purpose is. Many of us are given labels and titles, put into boxes, and programmed to think small from a young age, which makes it very difficult to find our authentic voices. We put on "masks" to escape the shame and the fear that has been cast upon us. To find our true selves we must follow our passion and do the things we love, come into the light and remove "the masks." Replace fears and insecurities with courage and self-love to propel us toward our greatest dreams. This is the journey of the self, to the best version of yourself. It starts with awareness, acceptance, self-love and forgiveness. Be authentically YOU. Appreciate YOU. Accept YOU. LOVE YOU! Until you do you cannot fully love or be loved, and you cannot accomplish your full potential. 

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You were born to live a joyful life. Again, you have a purpose! You are capable of achieving all of your dreams. Commit to taking baby steps toward those dreams each day. Trust the journey. Stay in the moment and always believe. Just show up for yourself each day and do your personal best.  

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I am humbled and honored to have been recently sponsored by Avon. They have asked me to facilitate a series of yoga events for up to 200 people in each session. I was ecstatic as these would be my largest events to date. This is one of my dreams coming to fruition, traveling and leading yoga events. However, this also scared me to death. I have what it takes to deliver, but I knew that I would have to push past my comfort zone and face my anxiety head on or I could never reach my full potential. I had to push forward to grow so that I can eventually manifest my ultimate dreams. 

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Last Saturday I taught a class for a large group of beautiful ladies and gentlemen at an Avon conference in Columbus, Ohio. As I walked into the room literally trembling, I flashed back to my first yoga class and how scared I was THAT day as a student and remembered that each person in the room might have the very same insecurities, which put my fear back into perspective. As I was introduced I looked out and connected immediately with the smiles. That was all I needed. I knew it was all ok and I knew in that moment that my job was to put them at ease and suddenly everything was calm and clear. My purpose was clear. My intentions were clear. My heart was clear and full of love to give. I want to ultimately lead events with upwards of 2000 people so I might as well start with 200, right? Heck YES! 

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I called them up to the stage for a team building exercise. Many, not all, bravely participated. I saw a little girl still seated shyly at her table. I quietly encouraged her to join the group and I was thrilled when she courageously did (imagine what that decision to step out of her comfort zone might do for her future confidence?)! The smiles on their faces as they opened their hearts and leaned back while closing their eyes and trusting one another, balancing in tree pose, was absolutely heart warming. I will never forget that day. Each of those people on stage have a unique story. Each have a dream. I now have the privilege of knowing them and I am so thrilled to have been in their lives even if only for a day.  I love it when I see people step out of their comfort zones and try something new. I love when I step out of my OWN comfort zone. It is flat out exhilarating! When was the last time you tried something new? Do you remember that feeling of accomplishment? It feels AMAZING! By stepping out we connected, which also gives us greater strength. I have found my purpose, and I am still growing. I am incredibly grateful for every challenge in my life, as well as every reward. 

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Avon is just such a wonderful company.  Let me just tell you for those who are unaware, they are the at the forefront in the fight against Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence (click on the green linked words to learn more). They do a ton of work for Women Empowerment and are constantly giving back to the community. It is truly an honor to work with them. I just want to say, "thank you" to Avon personally for helping me to reach my goals and get closer to my big big dreams. It feels so amazing to partner with a company in alignment with my personal mission and intentions in life. 

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When Karin Laseke, who is the District Sales Manager for Avon in Cincinnati, interviewed me to work with the company, she asked me about my personal story and what my BIG DREAM is. This really meant a lot to me and she said they believe EVERYONE has a story to tell. My yoga guru, Amber, used to say something very similar which was, "dream big Libby, dream really really big!” So, I shared with Karin that my personal vision is to travel and facilitate yoga retreats, workshops, and teacher trainings to make enough money to build a yoga retreat center, which will include a cottage on a farm. There will be a vegetable garden leading up to the cottage and then a family room, a yoga studio and a kitchen. Upstairs there will be a couple bedrooms and bathrooms. This will be a place where women and children can come and stay if they need to escape from a domestic violence situation. They can work in the garden in exchange for food so that they do not feel as if they are taking handouts. Yoga classes will also be available to the public. I have experienced physical, verbal and emotional abuse so this dream is near and dear to my heart. I have also recovered from PTSD through yoga and meditation. I want to empower women to become their best selves and know that they do not have to be a victim.  

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The airlines say to put your oxygen mask on first and it’s true. You cannot help others until you help yourself. First Love Yourself (F.L.Y). Show the universe what you desire and watch it conspire to make all your dreams come true! Share the good and the bad. The thing that hurts you or scares you the most might just be your greatest asset to share with the world. The world needs YOU to show up. Be your authentic self, everyone else is taken. Live the life you love and love the life you live. I am so incredibly excited for you and I can feel the energy spiraling upward already! It’s time to step out, live your dreams and become who you were born to be!

Lovingly,

Libby

P.S. - If you are suffering from PTSD or domestic violence there are organizations that can help you. Please do not suffer in silence. Get the support that you deserve!  The following links can help you get started toward a better life:

Help for PTSD

Help for domestic violence

Oh Powerful Wizard of Oz

Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road... Those words may sound very familiar to you. Well, Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore. The Wizard of Oz is a beautul story about connections and about finding your purpose and true path in life. As Dorothy discovered along her journey, the answers we seek are in us all along, but having supportive friends makes our lives a little easier and gives us the courage to perservere.  

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It feels good to plug into collective energy. Remember, we ARE energetic beings, so, when we share our energy with other people, it gains momentum and spirals upward. There is power in numbers so to speak. This is why being a member on a sports team is so exhilarating. It creates a feeling of acceptance and a sense of appreciation. Team spirit is powerful. This applies not only to sports, but to any group that cooperates for a common cause such as family, a work community, or a group of friends.  When you realize you are a part of something much bigger than yourself, that is when the magic happens.  

When you feel connected, you feel a sense of purpose. You then wake up with a great drive and determination. This gives your life meaning and you are less likely to focus on unimportant things that once caused stress. With a strong support network you also have people who share your burdens so that in difficult times you are no longer isolated and alone. People who consider themselves part of a network or a community tend to be healthier overall and are able to better cope with stress and difficult situations. 

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There are five Blue Zones in the world where people are proven to live well over the ripe old age of 100 free from disease. Scientists are saying that air quality, nutrition, and social connections have a strong correlation with this remarkable life span and may in fact, in combination with a positive attitude, be able to alter our own DNA. Yes, waking up with purpose and feeling connected is THAT important!

People come and go like waves in our lives. Some stay only short amounts of time and teach us what we need to know and others stay longer, but each one adds an important lesson. The most valuable people bring out the very best in us. They allow our spirits to shine and that synergy (shared energy) is irreplacable.  

The last two years I have experienced the power of community first hand by having the privilege of volunteering my time to lead the Sycamore Community School Lady Aviator Water Polo Team in a once a week Yoga cross training session. Not only is it amazing for them to build core strength, open their shoulders and work flexibility and agility, but it gives me the distinct honor of getting to know these amazing young ladies.  If I can teach them to pause and breathe, it might mean the difference between making a goal or a penalty shot under pressure in a game. If I can teach them to lean on each other and support one another and practice compassion, then I feel like I have added greatly not only to their skills as a team, but to their life assets. I hope the awareness and acceptance that I instill on that mat carries off the mat and into daily life for each of these Ladies. That is what the journey is about for all of us; it is the journey of the self. 

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These ladies are absolute sharks in the water with determination and teamwork that is off the charts impressive, but out of the water I watch as they support other teams with unbelieveable sportsmanship and class. They are kind, respectful and compassionate. I am so incredibly honored and proud to be even a tiny tiny part of their experience. It is thrilling to me! I cannot even imagine how it must feel to be them! They are having a great season and every game has been incredibly intense. If you have never been to a water polo game, I highly recommend it. It is super fun to watch, albeit absolutely exhausting and not for the faint of heart. 

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So, follow the golden road to your own destiny knowing that it is within you all along (there is no almighty Wizard behind the curtain). You will also gain strength by surrounding yourself with a supportive community and by adding to that collective yourself. Get involved. Go find your true purpose and passion. Don't make it complicated. It is just something you enjoy. Add your passion and talents to a greater collective energy and watch that momentum build. You will have victories that you never imagined possible. You are capable of so much more than you even know. Just take the challenges that life offers. You have the power to weather the storms in your life, just as Dorothy survived the tornado that launched her on her journey to self discovery. 

In Victory of Light,

Libby  

As I watched the girls rest, giggling in the hammocks, I knew I was a part of something big. I felt my purpose and my heart welled with gratitude. I have never been so happy to be able to give my time to something. To be a part of something so powerful. It may seem small to some of you reading this, but in that moment, that energy that filled me, well.... it is still within me.... I encourage you to get involved. Find your tribe. Find your purpose! All that means is find a group of people that want you around and that involves doing something you absolutely love, even if only for one hour a week. Believe me when I tell you it is worth it! 

As I watched the girls rest, giggling in the hammocks, I knew I was a part of something big. I felt my purpose and my heart welled with gratitude. I have never been so happy to be able to give my time to something. To be a part of something so powerful. It may seem small to some of you reading this, but in that moment, that energy that filled me, well.... it is still within me.... I encourage you to get involved. Find your tribe. Find your purpose! All that means is find a group of people that want you around and that involves doing something you absolutely love, even if only for one hour a week. Believe me when I tell you it is worth it! 

Reflection

We talk so much about being present and staying in the moment, and yes it is important, but it is also meaningful to reflect from time to time on your past... what worked and did not work. The truth is we learn a great deal from our mistakes as long as we do not repeat them.  

The Bean in Chicago

The Bean in Chicago

Sometimes we just need a break from our daily routine. We tend to be creatures of habit who get  "stuck." When we are able to take time off, or if we are fortunate enough to get away for a few days, it allows us time to reset. Experiencing new things, new places and gaining new insights provides us with the inspiration that we need to move forward. We then become more present, more productive and more happy when we return.

  My Dad, with whom I am extremely close, has recently suffered a health set back. He is nearly 87 years old and the thought of not having him here with me on earth is a big hard rock to swallow and yet I know eventually it will come and he will go on to a more beautiful place. My sweet momma gave me the best gift in the world by encouraging me to get away for a long weekend and go unite with friends in Chicago, indulge in great food and enjoy myself.  "He is not going anywhere this week," she said with confidence as she sent me off for a much needed trip of rest and relaxation! Moms always know best! So off I went. The hard part, as a mom myself, was to pull away from life, from my children, from my parents and from my responsibilities and to enjoy this time free from guilt! It did not take me long, however, a few bites into a delicious pecan pie, a glass of Cabernet, a few great meals and a ton of walking around that delightful city of Chicago and I truly began to feel refreshed and inspired! Thanks to taking time out from my daily routines, I am sooo ready to move forward into bigger and better things. Vacation is great, but the best part is the renewed energy upon returing home!    When we take a break break from life, even if it is a "staycation," we are able to tap into power of the mind and redirect into a positive mindset that will catipult us in the direction of our goals and dreams rather than keeping us stuck and weighed down.

My Dad, with whom I am extremely close, has recently suffered a health setback. He is nearly 87 years old and the thought of not having him here with me on earth is a big hard rock to swallow, and yet I know eventually it will come and he will go on to a more beautiful place. Yet, worrying about him has been stressful to say the least.

My sweet momma last week gave me the best gift in the world by encouraging me to get away for a long weekend and to go unite with friends in Chicago, to indulge in great food and to enjoy myself.  "He is not going anywhere this week," she said with confidence as she sent me off for a much needed trip of rest and relaxation. Moms always know best! So off I went. The hard part as a mom myself was to pull away from life, from my children, from my parents and from my responsibilities, and to enjoy this time free from guilt!

It did not take me long, however... a few bites into a delicious pecan pie, a glass of Cabernet, a few great meals and a ton of walking around the delightful city of Chicago and I truly began to feel refreshed and inspired!

Thanks to taking time out from my daily routines, I am sooo ready to move forward into bigger and better things. Vacation is great, but the best part is the renewed energy upon returing home! 

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When we take a break from life, even if it is a "staycation," we are able to tap into the power of the mind and redirect it into a positive mindset that will catapult us in the direction of our goals and dreams rather than keeping us stuck and weighed down. So consider taking a day or two to reflect, to connect and to rejuvenate. Love and accept yourself exactly where you are in life. Set goals for where you want to go, and then each day take baby steps toward those goals until you arrive. 

Remember, life is a great journey. Just like every road trip you take, you will encounter construction zones. You are the engineer of your life both in body and in mind, always improving, always  "under construction." Just remind yourself to keep it joyful and to chill out! Everything you feel is OK! You are a beautiful being.  

Happy Travels Peaceful Friends, 

Libby

 

We Have All Been a Little Lost in Life...

We all have an idea, a road map if you will, of what we think our lives should look like long term.  As it turns out we are in control of very little in our lives, and sometimes major things happen causing trauma, depression, and even PTSD. An unexpected crisis can throw us way off course, leaving us feeling lost and frozen with fear because we no longer know which way to go. It is especially important during uncertain times like this to forge forward, or risk getting stuck in the pain, the fear and the negative energy that overwhelms us when we're feeling down. This is also the time to trust the journey, putting one foot in front of the other each day to create a new and hopeful path going forward.  

When trauma happens, we are often tempted to turn toward potentially destructive behaviors such as addictions, self isolation and recklessness, which can push us deeper into a downward spiral of dispair. Whether you lose an arm, lose a job, or lose a loved one, there are constructive ways to get your life back on track by creating an upward spiral of positive energy. For example, getting up early to exercise and start the day with determination gives you positive momentum and those feel good endorphins. In addition, find something, even if it is small to be grateful for each day. When we are in a state of gratitude, it's much easier to feel better about life. Allow yourself the grace to take baby steps toward the door to happiness and the path toward healing the trauma that derailed your original journey. Be compassionate toward yourself starting with acceptance and forgiveness, then go back to our roots of awareness, in order to grasp control of your feelings and reactions to those feelings. Change is the very nature of life. Once we have the tools of awareness, acceptance and forgiveness, we are able to deal with the traumas that arise in life, or past traumas that reoccur. Most importantly look yourself in the mirror and say, "I love you" every day!

We are writing the books of our lives. Each day we are faced with many choices, some more difficult than others. When trauma is involved every decision and choice can become monumental. Connecting with friends and family and avoiding isolation is critical in healing. Do what it takes to find happiness as long as it is healthy and takes you on an upward spiral.  

For me, the recent trauma of putting our very beloved dog down really knocked me off my tracks. The first day, honestly, I screamed and cried. The second day I did not want to get out of bed, but I KNEW I HAD TO PULL OUT OF THIS DOWNWARD SPIRAL, so I thought to myself what can I do? What will bring me happiness? And.... the answer was a puppy. This might be extreme for some people, but it was exactly what my family and I needed, and Tucker, the love nugget, is bringing us much love and joy.  

For others they might find comfort in eating healthy homecooked meals, connecting with past friends, volunteering, watching a comedy show, simply laughing, going on a nature walk, or joining a yoga class. Just take time and brainstorm positive solutions that will fuel good energy. Numbing the pain is simply prolonging the pain and will ultimately cause more suffering for us and for our loved ones. In fact, there is something called secondary PTSD. This happens when family members are traumatized by being around a loved one who isolates and pushes them away (among other things) as a way to cope with their own PTSD.  Secondary PTSD can tear families apart and destroy lives if we do not rewrite our books with happy endings.  

Sadness is a part of life. It is unavoidable and it also helps us appreciate our happy days. This is really the Principle of Polarity; which is to say everything has opposites. All things can be transformed with the power of your mind. Hate can be transformed into love. Sadness can be transformed into happiness. Even an empty bank account can be transformed into a full bank account. It also ties nicely into the Law of Attraction, which is to say the power of your thinking attracts the outcome of what you recieve. So when we wake each day with positive determination, even with baby steps, we set into motion that law of attraction to bring goodness into our lives and put us back on track on our journey toward well being. 

Sending all those who are suffering and hurting healing and loving vibes. Life is hard sometimes. Let's all pull together and make some lemonade out of the lemons we are dealt. It IS going to be OK!

Much Love,

Libby

 

P.S. - For those of you who feel paralyzed by severe trauma, depression or PTSD, there are additional resources available to help you through your journey.  You are never alone!

Recommended books:

Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga - Reclaiming Your Body - by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper, PhD.

Daring Greatly - By Brene Brown.

Untethered Soul - by Michael Singer

Additional Resources:

PTSD Hotline - mentalhelp.net

Now Mental Health - nowmentalhealth.com

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Are You Working for the Weekend, or Living the Life You Love Every Day?

The phrase TGIF is commonly used to celebrate the beginning of the weekend where we drown our sorrows of the week and party until Monday when we fall back into the dreaded routine of the daily work grind. Sound familiar? This is not living! Wake up friends! Step off the hamster wheel and start to truly enjoy every day, not just the magic of  Fridays!  

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It is important to find simple pleasures and live with a grateful heart. The majority of our life takes place Monday through Friday so let's enjoy that time. Consider a job doing something that you love! And if that is not possible, schedule activities with friends and family during the week that allow you to truly connect and enjoy sharing positive energy. Try not to have these activities be anything draining. For example, if you are constantly running kids to athletic practices, schedule a night where they carpool and you do something relaxing and fun! Take it easy on yourself.  

I go back to my principal roots - practice AWARENESS: know when your stress levels are rising and take a break! Practice ACCEPTANCE: allow yourself to have fun and quiet time during the week. Practice FORGIVENESS: forgive yourself for working so much, or for whatever you need to personally forgive... this is a constant journey.  

Life is meant to be lived. Sometimes it is only through devastating events like death or divorce that we realize the things we missed out on. Please, do not wait until it is too late. Treasure each moment each day! You are so worth it! Honor your inner child at every age!

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Time is precious!  You can always make money, but you can never get time back. And remember that happiness is an inside job, In other words, it's an emotion that we chose to express. So make time and space to do things that truly make you happy! 

Wishing you an inspiring life and hoping that this inspiration carries you into a week that you look forward to living! Be it through music, food or a bouquet of flowers, simple little things each day can make a big difference. Live, love, laugh EVERY DAY like it was Friday!  

 

Live the Life you Love, Love the Life you Live,  

Libby

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What do Your Dreams Mean?

Dreams have always intrigued me in a mystical magical way. Sometimes they are an escape from reality to a beautiful place with people you do not recognize. Other times they are aweful nightmares and you do not wish to close your eyes again. Why do we dream such things?  

Well, we sleep about 1/3 of our life and we dream roughly two hours out of each night. Some people recall their dreams vividly, some people recall only portions of their dreams and some people do not recall dreaming at all. It's ok if you do not remember your dreams. I often don't myself. Nothing is wrong with that. Sometimes we simply sleep so well that we do not remember. And sometimes our sleep is too interrupted.  

For those of you who recall your dreams and are curious what they mean, keep reading! If you have recurring dreams, start to journal them. Try to remember how you felt in your dream, and what was going on in your day prior to that sleep...

5 Common Dreams and What they may really Mean 

1. Dreaming that you are partially naked in public: 

This is a very common dream which is often a sign of vulnerability or shame. It can also reveal a fear of being exposed.  

2. Dreaming that your falling: 

This may be a call from your subconscious to make some changes in your life. Perhaps you are concerned about the direction that something is going and often this is associated with depression. 

3. Teeth falling out: 

This has nothing to do with whether you brush enough and floss properly. This is a signal that perhaps you spoke too harshly, gossiped, and need to speak less and listen more. 

4.  Being chased:

Examine if you are trying to avoid something or someone in life. Perhaps something requires your attention? 

5. Sex: 

This can be a literal sexual outlet, or it can also symbolize intimate connection with yourself or others.  

Dreams are a way for our conscious minds to connect with the subconscious. They usually have a message for us. So just deepen your awareness without putting too much thought and any judgement into it, and see if you get to know yourself a little better through your dreams! 

I recently had a very unique dream that I would like to share with you. It was unlike any dream I have ever had. I dreamt that I was kneeling on a dock on a dark night with the sky lit by the moon. I put my hand down into the dark, but calm water. I had no fear. I wished that a dolphin would come to me. Sure enough I saw a fin coming. Again, zero fear of it being anything but a dolphin. The dolphin came straight to my hand and then out of the water enough to hold itself cheek to cheek with me. We turned our eyes toward each other and both were smiling. The connection was extraordinary. Then the dolphin swam a minute before returning to look at me face to face. We smiled and laughed together as tears streamed down my face. Then the dolphin slowly went back into the water and I woke up.

When I woke I felt as if everything had changed. It was like the weight of the world had been lifted, as if that dolphin was my spirit guide releasing all my past troubles and worries and giving me the love and encouragement that I needed. The dream was a sign like an omen. It was my soul, as well as the Universe, speaking to me and telling me that now is the time for me to put my life dream into action. 

During the past year I have been researching and preparing notes to write a book. This has been a dream of mine for sometime and now the Universe is ready to make it happen. My dolphin dream represented the clarity and certainty I needed to forge forward in full motion with a new found confidence. Since this dream I have felt so inspired and full of life! I am happy to share with you that I am currently working on writing my first book that will address how to live a Total Soulful Journey and Reduce the Stress in your Life!  

The biggest message I want to convey goes back to awareness. Be aware of what your dreams are trying to tell you. They might be a sign to slow down and change something, OR perhaps a sign to forge forward with your day dreams that are now speaking to you through your soul at night. Ideas and dreams are wonderful, but without putting them into motion it is the biggest wasted commodity we have, unused creative energy. So dream big! Put your intentions into action and watch how fast they come to life. There are signs and miracles all around us and dreams are just one area of  insight. When we are aware we are able to see more clearly. 

You know the saying, "Dreams Really do Come True".... I believe in this power now in more ways than one.  

Sweet Dreams,

Libby 

P.S. - Please feel free to share (in the comment section) your recent dreams, or what your BIG DREAM is in life to begin the action of making it happen. And check out the video below to learn how to interpret and remember dreams from an inspirational speaker who I truly enjoy. 

 

 

All Of The Answers You Seek Are Within YOU....

Have you spent your life wishing you could ask someone a question, needing closure, feeling abandonment, fearing something...... or just wondering what your true purpose in life might be? We face many different questions every single day! Our minds are very complex tools. But truth be told,  all the answers you seek actually lie within yourself. Yes, YOU and you alone have the power to unlock all of the answers you could ever need to know.  

It all begins with awareness. For me it began with a growing awareness on my yoga mat that then carried off the mat and into my daily life. That awareness evolved into a deeper consciousness. After you develop awareness, the next step is acceptance. Accepting yourself as you are and practicing full self love. Until you fully love and forgive yourself of any flaws you cannot truly accept love from others nor are you available to fully receive love.

Developing the following practices leads one to higher levels of consciousness and clarity:

• Self awareness 

• Acceptance of yourself

• Self love

• Acceptance of others

• Letting go of judgement

• Releasing ego

• Daily gratitude

These can be a difficult steps because the ego jumps in and gets in the way. The ego has a place and is there to protect us, but we need to be aware of how it tries to influence us to keep it in check. Finally, there is the step of practicing being grateful for all that we have in daily life and living a life of grace. When we reach this spot suddenly all of the drama fades away and clarity arises.  

Listening to your voice within, your intuition, is your best guide. Your intuitive voice is there to protect you, to lead you in the right direction, to keep you on the upward spiral. When something feels wrong, most likely IT IS. Listen to your gut. Know your worth. You were born with a purpose. You may not know the purpose yet, but if you listen to your intuition it will lead you in the right direction and the answers you seek will come. The universe will show you your path. Trust the journey. Have faith and patience. Keep your heart open and live with love, passion and a firm belief that all of your dreams will come true. YOU ARE WORTHY, YOU ARE SPECIAL, YOU ARE LOVED, YOU ARE JOY, YOU ARE LIGHT! Say positive affirmations to yourself if you feel a little low or lost. And write down your goals each day. Never give up. All is coming!

Namaste,

Libby

P.S. - If you want to learn more about awareness, acceptance, gratitude and empowerment, join me on my yoga retreat in beautiful Costa Rica this coming October.  Click here to learn more.

5 Reasons for a Yoga Retreat in the Mountains

*This Retreat is No Longer Available.  Join Libby in Costa Rica in October for Her Next Available Retreat. Details are on the Home Page or at Trip Tribe.

Join me for my next yoga retreat from Wednesday, July 12th to Sunday, July 16th...

Awaken the master within you for all of the answers that you seek and already have at my next yoga retreat! Often times we get so bogged down with stress and anxiety that it becomes hard to trust our intuition and to see clearly. A short getaway, especially one that eases stress and clears the mind, can be the perfect solution that allows for great healing through mindfulness and awakening. This retreat we will cultivate awareness through movement and acceptance on the mat that will carry off the mat and into your daily life. This gift of higher consciousness and relaxation will help you respond to life rather than react, giving you tools to make better decisions, to have better relationships, to improved your health and reduce stress.

This wonderful retreat will be hosted at the Elohee Center, which is located on over 200 gorgeous acres of forested land nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, just 2 hours north of Atlanta. The named Elohee is a Cherokee word that means earth place. This center was founded by Andy and Carolyn Bralley in 2010 when their daughter Eve was battling refractory Hodgkin lymphoma as a place of healing for her. This beautiful land inspires self exploration, growth and mind body healing. 

In addition to Yoga and Meditation, I will encourage journaling to help you to manifest your goals and intentions. When we write our desires down, we begin to manifest and put them into action. We will talk a lot about how to bring light and inspiration into your daily lives as you awaken your heart center and learn to live with true intention and confidence, and aspire to become the best vesion of yourself. That is the true purpose of this retreat.

You will also have the opportunity to join me on optional hiking excursions, becoming one with nature while calming the mind. You can participate in painting workshops that will encourage creativity and letting go.... to free your mind!  This retreat center offers additional luxury massages, as well as other yoga and cooking classes to enhance your experience! 

So if you are not already convinced to register, here are my top 5 reasons for you to participate in this yoga retreat in the mountains:

1. To let go of what no longer serves you (including stress).

2. To build confidence in yourself and in your yoga practice.

3. To inspire and awaken your inner teacher.

4. To connect with like minded people and feel accepted.

5. To move forward toward your dreams.   

My purpose here is to AWAKEN what is already within you, to show you what you are truly capable of achieving, to remind you of your amazing beauty that is sometimes forgotten. We all get stuck from time to time. Allow me to help you get unstuck. I invite you to join me on this wonderful journey that will elevate you to a new level in many aspects of your life, including family, work, creativity, focus and self esteem.  

Register by March 11th for the early bird pricing and save 10%. I selected this location specifically for its incredible value and its accessibility from so many locations. I love to meet people from around the world and share my passion for yoga and wellness, so all are welcome!!

Peace & light,

Libby

P.S. - You can choose to a share a room or to have your own. Trip Tribe will try to pair you with someone compatible and it may enhance your experience if you choose to share a room. Connecting with one another as we are learning and growing together will truly create a special retreat filled with friendship and amazing energy! I cannot wait to share this with you!

This yoga retreat is organized by Trip Tribe!

Imagine your creative side in full bloom! 

Imagine your creative side in full bloom! 

Would You Save a Life if You Could?

Most of you know me as a yoga instructor, but that is simply one aspect of my life. I invite you to  come along on my journey and get to know me better. And I would like to get to know you, as well.  I am a mother of two children and a daughter. Ten years ago, my dad, Bob Shively, was diagnosed with Myeloma, which is a cancer of the blood and bones. The "C" word is super scary, especially when in relation to yourself or a loved one. My father's diagnoses came as a shock. They gave him only a coulple years to live at best. The doctors said to expect his bones to deteriorate and that the only available treatment was pain management.  

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Well, let me tell you a little more about me. I am extremely close with my whole family. We have always been very supportive and loving. I am super sensative and also empathetic. When my dad was diagnosed, it felt like my world shattered as I am sure many of you can relate. I felt so helpless. All I could do was to pray and pray for a way to help him. Low and behold the very next day in the mail there was a flyer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society who offer a variety of fundraising events in honor of or in memory of anyone you know who has suffered from a blood or bone cancer of any type. I knew at that very moment I was up for the biggest challenge of my life! I quickly conspired and got my best friend, Katherine Shrout, to agree to "walk" a full 26.2 mile marathon with me in Honolulu, Hawaii!  We had a fundraising minimum to reach in exchange for our airfare and room for four nights, which was bonus motivation. So.... we thought who can't walk 26 miles? We've got this! Hahaha.... many laughs and many long training hours later we quickly started running more and more realizing how time consuming it was. Needless to say we BOTH finished the marathon. I love you Kat for pushing the limits with me, for standing by my side through tough challenges (including three broken bones in my foot) and for helping to save lives!

This year my daughter, Morgan, asked me to join the Team in Training Hike Yosemite Event on June 10th. Morgan is quickly becoming my new best friend as she grows up and becomes her own unique person. I am so proud of who she is and I love the way she makes me laugh. Her positive spirit will grace the world for years to come. But anyway, I realized that it being the ten year anniversary of my marathon that this is just perfect timining to celebrate my dad's life and the fact that he has truly beat all the odds. Ten years ago there was no treatment for his cancer besides pain management. Today, there are finally options that are available thanks to the research that was made possible by people like you who donate money to fight these diseases.

When Morgan and I decided to do the walk, the universe sent me another sign. My high school friend, Susan reached out to me. Her nephew, Paul Wilson, was in the hospital fighting for his life with leukemia. Susan asked if I would be willing to go to Children's Hospital to do some yoga with him just to change up his routine and relieve his boredom. I was honored. I realized this year I will hike and participate in this event not only in honor of my dad, but also to help find a cure for Paul's leukemia.  My goal is to use my able healthy body to give hope to these courageous people of all ages who are suffering and holding on with every ounce of dignity just to smile for their families. Cancer knows no age and no boundaries. It robs us of precious time, life and memories.  

If we have our health, we are truly blessed. Let this remind us to be grateful each and everyday. To hug the ones we love. To prioritize what is TRULY important. AND.... I invite you here and now to become a part of this quest to end cancer! I invite you to be a part of my team to help save the lives of those who are suffering! The money I raise goes to research, family support and patient care. I have seen results from the money that I raised ten years ago at the Honolulu Marathon. I am forever grateful and I will continue to pay it forward by doing all I possibly can when I can to advance cancer research for all of us.  

Sometimes it takes a villiage...but together we can move mountains!

All is possible!

In full gratitude,

Libby

P.S. - If you would like to support our team, you can learn more and donate at: http://pages.teamintraining.org/vtnt/Yosemit17/LMcAvoy

Morgan and my team name for this event is, "Not so Main Stream."

Or you too can register to participate in the Team in Training Hike Yosemite event at: http://www.teamintraining.org/events/hike-yosemite

Travel to Seek Answers Rather than Escape Reality

People travel for many reasons. I travel because it expands my mind and soothes my soul. It excites me to learn of new foods, cultures, history, topography and to see the amazing beauty the world has to offer!  

View before the tram ride down San Jacinto

View before the tram ride down San Jacinto

I recently visited my parents, who are wintering in Palm Springs, and while I was there I had a moment of awakening. I often spend time hiking or walking when I vacation. This trip I spent A LOT of time hiking. On my hikes I was exceptionally taken by the beauty around me. It dawned on my how fortunate I am to get to see so many places. I wondered, for a brief moment, how many people never leave the state in which they were born? And then I wondered if they are lucky enough to travel outside of their state, have they ever seen another country???? Our country, the United States of America is so vast and so beautiful. I have driven across it and seen the wide open wheat farms, the snow capped Rocky Mountains, many corn and soy farms, long straight highways and then the switchbacks - the Million Dollar Highway takes the cake for switchbacks! 

Family time in Palm Springs

I find inspiration in the beauty  and in how quickly the landscape can change! On this particular trip to Palm Springs, my daughter and I decided to take the tram up to Mt San Jacinto to hike! I should preface this by telling you that Los Angeles was having MAJOR floods and the mountains in Palm Springs had recieved significant snow. We dressed appropriately and were ready for extreme conditions, but when we saw people in line with sleds and snowboards we started to question ourselves with laughter and the anticipation of young children on Christmas Eve....

Sledding fun

Sledding fun

As we waited in line we read the brochure and decided we MIGHT need to rent snowshoes at the top! Well, in order to hike to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto (5 miles each direction), you need a permit from the ranger. So we proudly walked through the beautiful winter wonderland and past the merry sledders to the Rangers Station. I was properly dressed in hiking boots, however, Morgan was donning her cowgirl boots, which just makes this story all the better! The ranger says, "What can I do for ya ladies?" I replied, "I just need a permit for hiking." To which he had the gull to say, "And where do you think you girls are going in those cowgirl boots? No way are you getting a permit!" Well, if you know a couple things about me.... I am a Taurus, which means I am a little bull headed and when I decide I am going to do something look out Baby.... So I sweetly said, "Oh yes we are going to rent snowshoes. We just stopped to get our permit and a map first so if you could just tell me the way that would be great!" I couldn't believe it but it actually worked! He said, "Ok... if you rent the snowshoes, I will grant you the permit, BUT NO WAY are you going to the top! Turn around at the Mountain Lion sign. After that the trail gets very hard to follow being covered in snow and you girls could get lost." I asked how much snow there actually was and was blown away! There was four feet of fresh snow and ten FEET of snow in total. Morgan and I headed out on our adventure and it was one of the most amazing hikes I have ever completed. For full disclosure, and I apologize to you Mr Ranger, we went slightly past the Mountain Lion sign!!! However, once we could no longer safely follow a trail we turned around! We were only about 1.5 miles from the peak, but safety is paramount. Especially in those conditions! 

The sun was so bright and beautiful we even peeled layers of clothing, but check out the snow shoes!!!!! And... Morgan's cowgirl boots 😂

The sun was so bright and beautiful we even peeled layers of clothing, but check out the snow shoes!!!!! And... Morgan's cowgirl boots 😂

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A few days later we were in Joshua Tree surrounded by beautiful mysterious magical trees, interesting rock formations and a huge variety of cacti. Stunning in its own way!

Joshua Tree Cacti Garden

Joshua Tree Cacti Garden

Blooming cacti... beauty everywhere

Blooming cacti... beauty everywhere

It wouldn't be a yoga blog without ONE yoga pose! 

It wouldn't be a yoga blog without ONE yoga pose! 

This is a Joshua Tree

This is a Joshua Tree

From Joshua Tree we drove Phoenix Arizona, stayed with good friends and hiked Camel Back Mountain. A completely different experience once again. Humbled by the boulders and steep elevation, we were still determined to reach the top. Though exhausted, we pushed through our fatigue and were rewarded with spectacular views the city below and the surrounding mountains! Although it was considered an "expert" hike, it was so wonderful to see people of ALL ages enjoying it!  

Echo Trail Head at Camelback. The hardest climbs bring the greatest rewards! 

Echo Trail Head at Camelback. The hardest climbs bring the greatest rewards! 

One amazing thing I observed everywhere we visited on this trip was how friendly and generally upbeat people were. Maybe it was the sunshine or the beautiful surroundings... but I was reminded of what a beautiful country I live in and what beautiful people are all around. It is up to us to see the beauty.  

Yoga Fit Boutique

If you do not get the chance to travel, simply look at photos online and educate yourself with what exists outside of your box. Open your mind. Dream really big. Expand your reality! That is what travel does for me! These days it is possible to see these beautiful places online right from your own home with an open mind and your imagination!

Happy travels,

Libby 

 

P.S. - Please comment on your personal travel experiences; places you recommend, places you dream of someday seeing..... the more we share together, the more we learn and the more we raise the energy! The Universe WILL RESPOND!  

 

Do you Find Yourself Comfortably Numb in Daily Life?

Often times we wake up and go through the same motions each day like robots. We are so programmed and conditioned that we forget to fully wake up to the sensations of our bodies, to take conscious control over our thoughts and to truly LIVE our lives. Repeating the same things each day is not the same as living. To truly live means to take chances, to feel the ups and downs, to laugh and to cry. Because to live means to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable means to open your heart, and to do that we have to risk being hurt. But the alternative is to shrivel up and emotionally die and that is no way to live. Without growing, changing and continuing forward, stagnancy takes over and a numbness consumes us.

We are born to love. We are born to seek joy. So make time time for the ones you love. Everything else is just an excuse. Dig deep... what is it that you are really hiding from? Are you using work, alcohol, drugs, extreme workouts, seclusion, social media or sex to numb yourself? There are many ways that we mask our pain, but it's important to really live. Not to live comfortably numb. We only get so many days. Grab the ones you love. Find the passion in your heart. Take some time and do the things that set your soul aflame! THAT is what life is really about!  

It's not about the money that you make or the things that you possess when you die. All of that is actually a burden in the end. So, cherish today. Live fully in this moment and make sure that you build the blocks and lay the proper foundation for where it is that you want to go. The key is to strike a healthy balance between being HERE NOW and taking steps in the direction of your biggest dreams and aspirations. Please, I am begging you to wake up and stop feeling comfortably numb. Life is a fantastic song so let's sing it and let the music wake us up and keep us moving along in life!  

I hope this leaves you inspired to do something that you love, or say the things you have wanted to say to someone you love. It takes a lot of strength and courage to live authentically, but I promise you that it is the only TRUE way to live and feel your BEST. Not everyday will be great, but there is something wonderful in every day if you are open to the miracles that are happening around you. Go for your dreams! Feel your fire or tapas (from the Yoga Sutra) within! You are a burning beautiful person with a mission to live life to the fullest. What are you waiting for? 

Wishing you an inspiring week,

Libby

Open Your Heart to Tap into Endless Energy

We have an endless supply of energy that is constantly regenerating within us. This source energy is at our core center, the heart, and is always available.  It has been called many things in many cultures including Shakti in Yoga, and Chi in Chinese medicine. Some consider it closely linked to the Chakras if you have studied those, but we will save that for a different conversation. 

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We are busy people. We live in a world where busy is overly glorified. Every thought we create expells great energy. Each thought you remember takes a great amount of your energy. Controlling your thoughts, holding your thoughts... it is no wonder we are tired and drained. However, if we tap into our source energy, we have the power within to regenerate and restore ourselves. We have our own battery source, if you will, to recharge!  

The Key in fact is simple. Open your heart! You are only limited by your own choices. Open your heart and open your mind and your energy will flow free and limitless. The most important part of your life is your energy, your prana. Depression is a blockage of energy. When we clear that space by CHOOSING to be positive, the energy is free to flow. Obstacles are mearly an opportunity for growth. We have the power to spin any negative into a positive. If we CHOOSE to open that energy channel, open up that flow, amazing results will come. Constantly open up, grow, spiral upward and feel the energy grow from within! Suddenly you will attract an abundance of all your desires as a result of this energy. This is The Law of Attraction.  

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Happy Friday Everyone! Sending you all great energy as it is bubbling out from me and I cannot contain it so I am sharing the love with all of you!

Dreamily,

Libby 

De Mystifying the Glory Behind the Alleged "New Year's Cleanse Diets," 10 Must Have Feel Good Foods and Why Fad Diet's Will Never Work

First allow me to wish you a very Happy New Year! The start of the each year is exciting because it symbolizes a fresh beginning, new chances, unlimited possibilities and a clean slate. Many people set New Years Resolutions. Very few, in fact less than 8% actually follow through with those resolutions. I personally choose to set intentions for the year ahead. Intentions are positive thoughts and actions that I intend to follow through with be it big or small. I write them down and I say them out loud.... daily! Writing my intentions and repeating them out loud daily is part of the manifestation process. What we think in our minds is likely to occur. So.... this year I set my intentions to strengthening my handstand practice, which means practicing daily with drills, strengthening and moving away from the wall. I also set my intention to practice and become more patient, to waste less food and to give more to others. Those are the immediate intentions that I have set, although I will continue to set new daily intentions, as well. 

Diet and weight loss or getting in shape & working out are HUGE on the resolution lists and gyms see a big spike in attendance during the month of January, but guess what....yep, it quickly trickles off as people do not see immediate results and get discouraged. Today I want to focus on the hype you hear about Cleansing Diets, Fasting, Juicing Cleanses, and Detox Diets! STAY AWAY FROM THEM ALL is my very best advice! You will hear conflicting advice from every corner if you seek it, but I am not a believer in fad diets or anything quick or temporary BECAUSE once you go back to your regular consumption, so too will your weight. THE ONLY WAY TO LOOSE WEIGHT AND KEEP IT OFF IS TO ADOPT A NEW WAY OF LIFE! AND.... it is not that hard. I will let you in on a secret.... you do not have to eleminate anything. In fact, it is when we dreprive ourselves of things that we crave them most! Simply modify portions, elimainate snacking (or snack on fruits & veggies), eat 3-5 small meals a day that are colorful plant based whole foods, drink a lot of water, limit or better yet eliminate processed foods and lower fats & oil consumption, as well as sugar consumption (NO MORE SODA).  

Cleanses and fasting leave you fatigued, depressed, tired, sometimes dizzy and often weak.  Sometimes you are able to achive quick weight loss, but this yo yo style dieting is not recommended as a healthy long term weight loss technique. Eating clean is the best way to minimize toxins. Add exercise when possible to maximize weight loss if that is your goal. I am happy to consult with you on a personalized at home plan. 

This book has excellent information on superfoods.

TOP TEN FOODS TO ADD TO YOUR DIET TO NATURALLY HELP DETOXIFY YOUR BODY:

1. Goji Berries: Goji Berries are one of the top ten SUPERFOODS and can be found in health food stores near you. The Gogi is known to increase stamina, strength, longevity and sexual stamina. They also boost immunity, increase alkalinity, provide liver protection and improve eyesight.  

2. Lemon Water to start each day: Lemons alkanize the body so starting the day with a glass of room temperature or warm lemon water cleanses the body and strengthens the liver.  

3.  Beets: A single serving of beets can fight cancer, reduce arthritic pain, boost brain power, as well as help you loose weight. They are very high in fiber, purify the blood, as well as cleanse the liver.

4.  Blueberries: Contain a natural sunstance that mimics aspirin, lessening the tissue damaging effects of chronic inflammation and thus easing pain. They also block bacteria in the urinary tract.  

5. Brazil Nuts: Are loaded with selenium, which is key to flushing mercury out of your body. They are also high in magnesium and maganese, which ward off migraines.

6. Cinnamon: Stops the growth of bacteria and yeast, and speeds up metabolism, which aids in weight loss. It is loaded with antioxidants and is a natural anti inflammatory. Cinnamon lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels making it good for preventing heart disease and diabetes. 

7. Parsley: Herbs are often overlooked, but they have potent healing effects for our bodies. Parsely is high in vitamins A, C, & K, and betacarotene, which protects the liver and bladder and prevents liver and bladder infections. It also keeps our urine clean and relieves bloating.

8. Tumeric: Acts as an anti inflammatory, which relieves arthritic pain as well as other inflammations. It also has powerful antioxidants which improve brain function, lower heart disease and can help prevent and possibly even treat cancer.

9. Probiotics: These are fermented foods that contain beneficial bacteria for your stomach and digestive system. Try sourkraut, kimchi, yogurt, beet kvass or kefir and they will strengthen and protect your stomach and your colon. My friends at Fab Ferments make incredible products that you can find at Whole Foods and at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati. And they are starting to sell nationally, but there are other brands available, as well. 

10. Wheatgrass: I saved the best for last. This is very potent and powerful. You can sometimes find small juice shots available at farmers markets. Wheatgrass contains 98 of the 102 earth elements. It will help to restore your natural alkaline balance, protect your liver, detoxify the body, increase red blood cells, lower blood pressure, cleanse your organs, stimulate metabolism and the body's enzymes by enriching the blood.  

Cocao, Aloe Vera, Bee Products, Hemp Seed are other super foods that I would recommend adding to your daily diet if possible. Every little effort you make will allow your body to move more easily.  The more you exercise, the more oxygen your body will circulate, which not only boosts brain power, but it may also reduce wrinkles! What a beautiful side affect!

This is another great book about healthy living.

Let's face it we are all going to age, but we have control over how gracefully the process occurs to some extent. It is NEVER too late to start eating better. Each meal is a chance to fuel your body.  Take baby steps. Once you feel the effects and how much better your body responds, you will no longer miss the processed foods or unhealthy choices. You will naturally begin to crave healthy foods.  Now, that's not to say you will NEVER crave a good french fry or an amazing apple pie a la mode, and that is OK! If you are living an active healthy lifestyle, then indulging and enjoying treats occasionally is absolutely no problem.  

I hope you find this helpful and that you are inspired about the new year.  Let all trys and failures go.  Let go of all the outcomes and stop comparing yourself to anyone else. Look in the mirror every morning and say "I love you!" It starts there. Make the committment to yourself to become the BEST version of yourself, because you deserve it. You are beautiful. You are divine.  You are enough.  I love you.  

Wishing you Health, Love & Happiness,

Libby

P.S. - As I entered the New Year I myself wanted to find the healthiest recipes possible. Soup is warm and comforting in the winter and this recipe was appealing so I tried it and it inspired this entire blog! I know I knocked the "detox" diet but you've gotta try this soup: 

Detox Diet – Soup Cleanse Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups water

 1 red onion – diced

3 garlic cloves – minced

5 celery stalks – chopped

6 carrots

2 heads of broccoli florets (stalks removed)

2 medium zucchini – chopped

1 cup fresh tomatoes – chopped (approx. 4 small tomatoes)

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp fresh ginger (peeled and minced)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne powder (or to taste if you don’t like spice)

1 head of kale (approx. 2 cups) – stems removed and torn into small pieces

1/4 cup fresh squeeze lemon juice

1 tsp Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

Get the full directions at:  http://www.theeyesofaboy.com/2015/12/detox-diet-soup-cleanse-recipe.html

Please return and let us know what you think after you have tried it! You can also follow me, Libby McAvoy on Pinterest ( Mixing It Up) for more healthy recipes!  

5 Tips for Cultivating Gratitude in your Daily Life to bring Abundance

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The great poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said it so wisely, "cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously." When we live in the present moment and are aware of our thoughts, words and actions, and practice gratitude then and only then will we truly live in the abundance of all that we desire. Being grateful is the key to a happier and healthier life. Gratitude shifts our focus into the present moment. Being appreciated and feeling connected, feeling needed and desired are deep human needs. You can practice gratitude simply by thanking someone for a job well done at work or for something that you like that they did. A simple compliment or pat on the back goes a long way. Simply acklowledge the people you come in contact with with warmth and compassion. Set your phone down in the check out lane of the grocery store or drive through, and take a moment to say "thank you."  It does not take much to practice gratitude.  You will feel better and so will those around you, improving relationships and decreasing stress!

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So here are my top 5 Suggestions for How To Practice Gratitude Daily to Create Abundance in Your Life:

1. Journal:  write down one to five things you are grateful for each and everyday this month! Some days may be simple and other days may be more complex and that is ok.  Do this without judgment of any sort. There are no wrong answers.

2. Random Acts of Kindness:  Give what you can when you can. This has a ripple effect like you cannot imagine. which raises the vibrational energy all around you bringing you love and good energy. Hold the door open for a stranger, smile, buy a hot meal for a homeless person, volunteer (giving your time is an amazing gift), pay the toll for the person behind you, donate your old coats......

3. Be grateful for what you already have. Practice the concept of needing less.

4. Know that you are ENOUGH. Practice the I AM mantra each morning when you wake up. Say I AM and then follow that with possitive affirmations such as I am enough, I am loved, I am strong, I am forgiving, I am compassionate, I am grateful, I am kind.... Then look in the mirror and say "I LOVE YOU" yes, to YOURSELF! Practice loving yourself! It is amazing how far this will go.  You must first love yourself deeply before you can love others and before others can love you. 

5. Finally, learn from your own experiences. Be aware of what shifts your energy from dark to light, from sadness to happiness... then do more of what makes you happy and THAT will bring gratitude. 

Often the people who have suffered the most trauma and hardships in life are the most grateful and for the most simple things.  So, my advice is keep it simple, stay aware, stay grateful and keep your heart wide open.  Let that love energy flow freely. Peace and love to you all this holiday season and throughout the new year!

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Much gratitude, 

Libby

 

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An Invitation To Celebrate: Diwali; A Festival of Lights

Diwali is the five day Hindu "Festival of Lights," which takes place each autumn and signifies the victory of good over evil. This is an important theme that is observed by most cultures and religions and is relevant as the days get shorter (darkness taking over light) and as we transition to winter. As the leaves turn and fall from the trees, we are ALL reminded of our own transitions and the changes that we naturally go through. Our bodies and souls closely mimic the patterns of nature. So we can all beneifit from this celebration. It allows for unity.  

Lakshmi

Traditionally Diwali signifies victory of light over dark, good over evil, hope over despair, and knowledge over ignorgance. Over this five day period, which began on October 30th and runs to November 3rd, people clean, dress up, light candles, and participate in special chants and prayers (often to specific dieties such as Lakshmi, the goddess of fertility & prosperity). After prayers there is a great celebration which involves fireworks and bonfires. Then there is a family feast, sweet treats and gifts exchanged between family and close friends. In the Hindu culture I believe that this is somewhat similar to the importance of Christmas to us as Christians. 

Last year, we were fortunate enough to celebrate Diwali at Yoga Fit Boutique. One of my very dear and special clients is Indian and Hindu in decent, so she brought homemade sweet treats and a candle for everyone in the class. Moments like these are very special and enrich our yoga experience!  After all, we are a community that shares and celebrates our cultures, too. 

Fall is the perfect time to shed what no longer serves us.  Let's let go. Start this process by making a couple lists. First make a positive list of all that you want to manifest. And then make a separate list of all that you are ready to let go of that has been weighing you down. Then give yourself a little break. Be gentle on your bodies and forgiving to yourself. This is the time of year that the body and soul regenerate and prepare for the rebirth of spring.  

I treasure every single person who has the courage to step onto the mat and practice yoga with me. I see the light that is in you and I believe that we are conquering the darkness. I hope you all enjoy a wonderful celebration!

Peace, Love and Happy Diwali!

Colorfully yours,

Libby

The Dirty Little Secrets of Yoga and Why MEN Need It

There is a stigma that yoga is for girls, skinny flexible ones at that.  But, men need yoga just as much and actually yoga was originally practiced solely by men. Yoga provides better flexibility (something that many men struggle with), improves preformance in other sports and reduces the risk of injury.  

According to Men's Fitness Magazine and US News, yoga...

1. Improves digestion and reduces food cravings. 

2. Boost creativity and brain functioning, as well as focus.

3. Increases the quality and the quantity of sexual intimacy (yes, a great little secret).

4. Improves your quality of sleep.

5. Produces a natural high (another great secret) by causing your pituitary gland to release oxytocin, which is also known at the "love" or "cuddle hormone." 

Over my many years of teaching yoga, I have had a handful of men in my classes. Some were pleasantly shocked at how much they enjoyed the experience since they had never practiced yoga before and were hesitant to first get started. While my experienced guys knew exactly what they were in for and were pleased, as well.  In an effort to break down the dirty little secrets of yoga and the walls that seem to prevent men from coming to class, I decided to reach out to a variety of male friends worldwide and interview them.

 

Frits Johanson, Professional Dancer from Norway

Frits began his yoga journey because it was a large part of his kung fu training.  "To me the asana part of yoga is the part that comes most naturally, partly because it is very easy to combine with other types of training like my gymnastics and dancing. There are unlimited numbers of asanas and variations that I can work on and toward, keeping the practice challenging. The more I learned about focus, body alignment and positioning, and the connection between mental and physical, the more I could notice it helping with other trainings, as well.  In short, the asanas are a great way to keep both strong and flexible alone or in combination with other sports."

 

John Fortin (www.supdog.ca), Professional Skier & Yoga Instructor from Canada

John started his yoga practice to compliment his training for other sports, but specifically for Ironman competition. He felt the physical benefits of the yoga practice immediately. Practicing yoga allowed him to shift to a new elevated level of performance. "The bigger benefit was the mental aspect of my practice. Within a short time I was able to shift frustrating or difficult moments in my training into opportunities to grow. My mind accepted the challenge in a way that allowed me to continue to push myself to new levels." 

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As an instructor, I have heard many stories from my male friends of how they fully believe that they can benefit from yoga. Doctors who stand all day tell me they know that yoga can strengthen their legs and relieve backaches. People who drive all day tell me they know that yoga would relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. And people with high intensity or high stress jobs tell me they know that they need yoga, and yet something prevents them from coming to class. It is the fear of the unknown and many excuses (yes, you all know who you are).

So here is my personal advice on what you need to know for your first class:

1. Introduce yourself to the instructor. Tell him or her that it is your first class and let them know if you have any injuries or special requests.

2. Bring a hand towel. Yes, you might actually sweat in yoga ;)

3. Do not eat a heavy meal before class.

4. Wear normal workout clothes. I prefer dry wicking myself. 

5. LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR! This is a biggie for men especially.  Yoga is very individual. Please do not compare yourself to or feel that you need to compete with anyone else. Do not push yourself too hard, especially on day one.  Allow the flexibility to progress with each  practice. Injuries occur when people try to compete rather than listen to their own bodies, 

Teaching at Lululemon Athletica at the Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati, Ohio, where there are complimentary classes each Sunday morning!

If you would rather hear it directly from a male stand point, here is advice from Frits and John:

1. Find a style of yoga that works for you. There are many different ones with different focuses.  Perhaps you want something gentle and relaxing? Or, maybe you prefer a style that is more athletic. The great news is that yoga offers something for everyone. 

2. Go to a class. Learn on your own through books and videos. Just get started! To really get that "yoga feeling," I would strongly recommend going to a class. Classes have a special energy that is motivating and the personal instruction of a certified yoga teacher will help you safely get started and grow in your practice. Later you can dive in deeper by reading and exploring other aspects of yoga on your own.

3. Try it out with a friend. Like many new activities, taking the first step to get started can be the hardest part. Having a friend with you to hold you accountable can be a great help, especially the first few times.  And... you won't have to worry about being the only guy there if that is a concern!

4. Don't think about what you can't do. Saying I'm not flexible enough to do yoga is like saying I can't read well enough to learn to read. It is not a good reason to not get started.  

5. Find the parts that work for you! For many people, joining a yoga class that starts off with 15 minutes of chanting can be a bit off-putting. If you want to do yoga to get in shape and become flexible, then find the class that suites you. But, I do recommend exploring the meditative and spiritual parts of yoga, as well.  They might give you more than you think.

6. Get to class early and find a spot at the back where you can observe other students and how they are posing while you are learning.

7. Lastly, give it a try! Yoga is a great thing to work into your life! It has given me a lot, both physically and mentally. I recommend it for everybody no matter what shape they are in or where they are in life. It is something you can do for the rest of your life. 

I have to say that Fritz and John shared some fantastic advice! I truly hope that you guys have found the inspiration in this post to get you started on your yoga journey. Grab a buddy, register for a class, and join us on the mat! 

Yours truly,

Libby

P.S. - Stay tuned for my next blog about the fitness instructors at Breakthrough MSP (the fitness gym that is home to my yoga new studio) and learn how they can help you recover from injuries and setbacks to get you back into the activities you love! Also check out my Top Ten Reasons to Do Yoga if you haven't already.

P.S. P.S. - John also offers SUP-Surf-Yoga retreats in Nicaragua. If you are interested in SUP or SUP Yoga locally, I would be happy to take you out one on one or in organized small groups.

 

 

 

 

Tips for Combatting the Growing Obesity Epidemic and How the PHIT Act Can Help

Obesity is a gowing epidemic in the United States. According to the CDC, "Obesity related illness including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancers are the leading causes of preventable death." It is truly "sad" that this is happening in our country. Ironically S.A.D. is also the acronym for the Standard American Diet

Our government considers this to be such an enormous problem, with health care costs going through the roof, that Congress is working on a bill called the PHIT Act. The PHIT Act will provide tax incentives to encourage physical fitness by allowing you to take a tax credit of up to $1000 as an individual, or $2000 per household for fitness expenses such yoga classes and gym memberships.

Inactivity is now the 4th leading cause of death in the USA and it contributes to the number one leading cause, which is heart disease.  Exercise and meditation, combined with breathwork can significantly reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Type 2 diabetes can also be reversed with a combination of a diet rich in plant based foods and physical movement. 

Inactivity is a HUGE problem and electronic devices and video games are adding to it. Physically fit kids on the other hand have been proven to get better grades in school. Add yoga to their physical activity and you will also see an increase in focus, memory and concentration.  I would eventually love to see all schools incorporate yoga and meditation into the school day and I believe we are headed in that direction, but we are not there yet. So parents, bring your kids and teens to yoga in the evenings or on the weekends. Even consider practicing yoga together. It is a great activity for the whole family! 

Your health is one of your greatest assets! Your body is your temple. WE can be in control of our lives for the most part. It is not easy to lose large amounts of weight, but it is not as hard as you may think if you break the weight loss process down it into small attainable steps. In other words, set simple goals that you can realistically achieve, be kind and accepting to yourself along the journey and know that there is always help. I have worked with clients who struggle with their weight and they have told me how intimidating it is to join yoga classes because their bodies literally cannot fully do many of the postures. I know that is a major point of frustration and discouragement. If that sounds like you, I am here to help you lose weight and feel better about yourself. I will modify everything in your yoga practice to make it work for you. 

I would strongly suggest if you are looking to lose more than 30 pounds that we schedule a private consultation, take body measurements (the scale is not always the best indicator for weight loss) and make a plan that will work specifically for you. I can teach you modifications that you can then use in group classes. I will also help by holding you accountable (accountability is a big motivator). Commit to yourself to creating a happy, healthy and active lifestyle. You will be amazed when many of your aches and pains disappear and by the energy and the enthusiasm that will flow back into your life.  You were designed to feel good!

Health & happiness,

Libby

PS -  My monthly membership cost is $130. If the PHIT Act passes, you will be able to write off $1000 from your yoga class fees annually on your taxes as an individual, or up to $2000 for a household.  You can even use this tax credit for Teacher Training and turn it into a money making venture for yourself! Please, I urge you, reach out to your Member of Congress and say YES to the PHIT Act! If you or a loved one (children included) are overweight, see me or someone who can help you.