Meditation

A Little Morning Sunshine Can Change the Direction of Your Day

Whether it is a sunny day or a cloudy day, choose to create your own sunshine through positive thoughts. With your eyes closed before you are even fully awake in the morning, imagine the most beautiful sunny day that you can remember and just take a few breaths. Allow that warmth to fill your body.

Positive thoughts first thing in the morning lead to a positive day. Before you even get out of bed in the morning practice gratitude. Think of a person and close your eyes and think of things that person does that you are grateful for. Perhaps even consider keeping a collage of pictures near your bed of people near and dear, and pets that you are grateful for. Each day you can hold someone new in mind. Then, take a minute to stretch and practice gratitude for yourself. Taking these steps first thing in the morning sets the tone for your day. When you are faced with frustrating obstacles like a traffic jam or a long shopping line throughout your day, use that time to practice gratitude. Hold space again for someone or something that you are particularly grateful for. Allow a smile to span your beautiful face.  Open your eyes and look around. This will shift your energy from a negative state to a positive state of being.  

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our busy worlds that we forget to take notice of the lives around us. Practicing gratitude helps us reconnect and grounds us.  Once we reconnect we are able to realize how good it feels to be alive. 

Get out into nature. Wonder at the trees. Take notice of the colors, the layers of the flower petals, the different chirps of the bird singing, the size of the acorns this season. Practice gratitude for all that mother nature provides for us. 

Then look at the people around you. Take notice of who smiles and who is busy looking at their phone, who looks sad or angry. You see, every day may not be great, but there is something great in every day when our eyes, or more importantly our hearts and souls are open to seeing it. When we live with eyes wide open and hearts wide open and practice gratitude, doors open and abundance is there for us because that is the Law of Attraction. Begin your day this way and direct your thoughts in the direction of your goals. Good things will come to you. 

Keep it simple.  Keep it positive.  Keep it clean. Keep it loving. 

Shine on,

Libby

PS, This is a particularly wonderful time of year to start your gratitude practice as we approach Thanksgiving. Maybe consider starting a gratitude jar where each family member can contribute one thing each day that they are grateful for another person and sign your name. Fold it up and put it in the jar. Then on thanksgiving, before or after dinner, take time as a family to read each gratitude note out loud.  Watch the energy rise as you all learn new things you are grateful for about each other. You can also do this other times of the year. 

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I am sooo grateful this season for each day, for each person I share my life with, and for each breath. I am grateful for laughter, for love, and for the seasons of change. 

Demystifying Sun Salutations

Yes sun worshiping is real and it is actually very logical, as well as being an ancient practice. In yoga you hear about Sun Salutations, or the Sankrit term, Surya Namaskar. Surya is sun. Nama means to bow to or adore. We stand at the front of our mat with our hands together at our hearts center in the same position as we typically start and end our practice with namaste mudra, which translates into the divine light in me honors and sees the divine light within you. So, as we move through the Sun Salutations we take our arms up toward the heavens and then we bow forward turning our awareness inward and committing to our health and to our higher awareness. With each movement we aspire to gain wisdom and knowledge and to become the best versions of ourselves. It really is a prayer in motion.

 Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

There are 12 postures within a Sun Salutation, which is also symbolic because there are 12 Sanskrit terms for the word sun. Moving through these 12 postures in consecutive sequence in repetition warms & energizes the  body. Sun Salutations engage the core, stretch the hamstrings and loosen the shoulders. They improve circulation, massage internal organs and promote overall health. So you can use sun salutations as an excellent warm up, or start to your yoga or workout session. Or when you are short on time and energy, it can be used as your minimum daily go to for giving you a total body workout. 

Sun Salutations can be beautifully adapted for your personal needs and can even be done from a chair.  When practiced at a slower pace they provide a calming grounding effect, and when practiced at a faster pace they provide a good cardiovascular workout and can provide weight loss. 

Why start the day day with Sun Salutations? Yoga was developed over 5000 years ago by ancient Sages in India who believed each part of the body was linked to some part of the natural world. The solar plexus (located behind the belly button) is said to be connected to the sun and associated with our emotional well being and intuition. We practice Sun Salutations first thing in the morning to clear our minds, gain calmness for the day ahead and to heighten our intuition. 

 Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Lets face it, we all love a little sunshine. It feels good and makes us happy. The sun grows our fruits, vegetables and flowers. It also creates light, and as we know that light helps us conquer our fears, so salute the sun. Practice Sun Salutations each day and feel yourself growing stronger, your light illuminating brighter and the warmth glowing within you. Make time for this important practice every single day. It only takes 15-20 minutes to do a proper 3-5 Sun Salutations A and Sun Salutations B sequence and you will greatly appreciate the many benefits that you will discover through this practice. 

Sun Salutation A:

Inhale taking your arms up

Exhale bowing forward

inhale halfway up straight spine

exhale hands to earth, step back to plank and lower yoga push up

inhale upward dog

exhale downward dog (hold 3-5 breaths)

       ~work to get your heals toward the earth 

       ~relax your ears between your arms

        ~let all the busy thoughts of the day and week go as you breathe in through your nose & out through your nose

Inhale look to your thumbs

Exhale to the front of the mat 

Repeat 3 to 5 times

Sun Salutation B:

Inhale sweep arms down and up as you come into chair pose 

Exhale forward fold straightening legs

Inhale halfway up, look to horizon

Exhale hands to earth and hop back to Chaturanga (yoga push up)

Inhale heart to the sky

Exhale hips up and back to down dog 

Inhale right foot to right thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog

Inhale Left Foot to Left Thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog stay here and re connect with your breath

Relax your neck & shoulders

Consider scissoring your heels, pressing one heel at a time to the earth and lifting the opposite heel

Inhale look to your thumbs

exhale hop to the front of your mat

Repeat 3-5 times

Wishing you all an inspiring start to your week!

Shine On,

Libby

P.S. If you have questions about how to get started in your practice, how to modify postures or if you would like personal, private or corporate lessons, please contact me via email: libby@yogafitboutique.com. I would be happy to travel and I always love to connect. Namaste!  

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 

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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Healing Yoga for PTSD with Libby

Many people suffer from extreme and chronic stress. Stress causes a lot of harm to our physical bodies, as well as to our mental well being. In some cases it can become post-tramatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is far more severe. People who have been through traumatic events such as combat, assault, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, an accident or a natural disaster may suffer from PTSD. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, stomach aches, headaches, and many other chronic manifestations that can last for years if left untreated. PTSD also effects the people who love and care for their loved one who is suffering. 

Supported Bada Konasana opens the hips and the heart. We hold a lot of emotion in the hips.  

*Photos by Morgan McAvoy

According to the Veterans Administration, more than 8 million men, women, and children suffer from PTSD in the US in a given year. I myself suffered and did not recognize the symptoms at first. I went through a physically and emotionally traumatic event many years ago when I was violently abused by a loved one. I had undergone therapy, forgiven, found yoga and thought I had dealt with my grief. In reality I had compartmentalized and stuffed the feelings of betrayal, hurt and fear deep down within to the point where it took many years for those emotions to surface again. Through years of my personal yoga practice and helping others I was able to heal myself. I no longer feel like a victim and I am not at all ashamed to share my story. I want to help others find peace, restoration, and comfort in their own selves, as well.  

In addition to clinical treatments for PTSD via medical (i.e. prescription drugs) and psychological avenues (i.e. Cognitive Processing Therapy, EMDR), yoga is a wonderful way to calm the body and the mind through the physical practice and also to gain control through breathwork. Our breath is one thing we are always in control of, which is quite empowering and an important part of the healing process. In yoga, the parasympathetic nervous system literally slows down and by slowing the breath and the parasympathetic nervous system we literally lower heart rate, blood pressure and calm the mind.  

Seated tree pose is a great stretch for the hamstrings. All forward bends direct your awareness and attention within the self.  

The acceptance and awareness on the mat will eventually carry off the mat and into your daily life. The US Military is now using yoga to treat Veterans recovering from PTSD, and the USMC is referring local vets to Yoga Fit Boutique following a three week intensive program that they have in Chicago. Rehab programs are also using yoga to aid in recovery from drug addiction and alcohol abuse, and prisons are using it for reform.  

Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self. It is a way to dive deep inside yourself to the heart of your soul where true healing, love and forgiveness can occur. You were created to be pure joy. I have now created a class called "Healing Yoga for PTSD," which is specifically designed to restore and relax you, to tune out the chaos of the busy world and nurture yourself in a safe and accepting environment. All hands on assists and adjustments will be optional and you will have the freedom to get up and leave, or rest in child's pose if you feel overwhelmed at any point. This class will help you understand triggers and reconnect you to your mind, body and spirit.  

Supported, or restorative child's pose. Here you are supported by as many props as necessary to fully relax. You can feel free to close your eyes, or if you are more comfortable by all means feel free to leave your eyes open. This is your time to rest and release.

If you or a loved one feel that you suffer from PTSD, this is a serious condition and there are finally helpful resources available to assist you in your healing. The VA, for example, has excellent resources to get you started:  http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp

Much love & healing support,

Libby

PS - Please visit my Class Descriptions page to learn more about Healing Yoga for PTSD. I offer 20% off my rates for veterans, current military service people and first responders for any of my yoga classes. Because managing and healing from PTSD is so important, I am extending this offer to anyone suffering from PTSD who signs up for my Healing Yoga for PTSD class.

 

The Power of Breath

Have you ever noticed how powerful the force of water in nature is? Your breath is similar. Now visualize a large body of water. Sometimes that water is choppy with whitecaps. Sometimes that very same water is flat and still. The water moves with the wind. When we are stressed or angry, our breath tends to be rapid and shallow and the body, as a result, becomes taxed. When we are calm, our breath is naturally slow, steady and deep. But you have the power to instantly use your breath to turn your stress or anxiety into calm.  The key is awareness! Try the following meditation. 

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Now, close your eyes for a moment. With your eyes closed, breathe in deeply through your nose and out deeply through your nose. Put your awareness into your breath as you allow the other busy thoughts in the mind to fade away. Acknowledge any thoughts that pop up, but save them for later, they can wait. Simply listen to the sound of the waves in each breath going into shore, and back out to sea. Breathe in, breathe out.  Feel your breath slow and listen as it quiets. 

 Now, with your eyes still closed, visualize that body of water. As your breath calms and quiets, that body of water will begin to still. The body of water represents your soul conciousness. Once the chaos of the external world subsides, your natural state arises like the surface of beautifully calm and crystal clear water. Small ripples represent the effects of others upon us and us upon others. But underneath is where the depth occurs. Your true authentic self is deep below the surface. It is in this calm where the breath is slow and steady, and that the body and mind can truly become one and work to be their best. Your natural state is one of calm and joy. Your natural state is divine love. It is here in this silence that the answers you seek will come. There is in essence no need to worry. Just let go. Just be.  Just breathe. 

 Breathe in, breathe out, release and let go... 

Breathe in peace, breathe out chaos.

Breathe in acceptance, breathe out judgement.

Breathe in divine love, breathe out divine love.

 You are enough. You are all you need. In times of chaos, turn to your breath. Take just a moment, listen to those waves and let that calm you. It is proven to lower your heart rate. It works and it is in your power all the time! Have an incredible start to this week!  

 

 Clarity

Clarity

Happy Monday, 

Libby