Who do you think you are?

What other people think of me is none of my business.

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There’s a baby boy joining our family in about five weeks and to say we’re excited for this blessed event would be a real understatement.

As we anticipate his arrival, I wonder about him. What will his interests be and what will he prefer as toys? Dinosaurs? Cars and trucks? Cardboard boxes, pots and pans?

Will he be artistic? Athletic? Easy going or excitable? Will music bring him joy the way it has for his mommy ever since she was my newborn?

What will his personality be like? And how can we help him to always feel safe and unconditionally loved? How can we foster a sense of joy and belonging for this fresh little soul who is about to be exposed to a lifetime of other people’s opinions?

I love this quote by Don Miguel Ruiz:

“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.”  ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

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My baby grandson is coming into this world pure and innocent, full of curiosity and wonder – just like you and I did!

When we take our first breath in this life we begin to experience planet Earth through our senses. We take it all in, interpreting events the best we can. We begin to form opinions about ourselves based on personal experiences and interactions with others.

And you know, it’s part of the human condition to mix things up sometimes– to misinterpret things and then hold them as our truth.

When we dip our toes into the well of self-realization, we may discover that the way we habitually think and talk about ourselves is based on another human’s incorrect assessments. We take on beliefs about ourselves that simply aren’t true.

For example:

  • The 5th grade teacher who said I was a slow reader with poor comprehension. I am stupid. Not true. My Taurus nature allows me to take my time and I can devour a good novel – and remember every bit of the story – with the best of them.
  • The uncle who greeted 11-year old me at a family gathering as “Hey Chubby” and would validate what I was already noticing about my growing and changing body. I am fat. Not true. Though it would take many years with an eating disorder and practice loving myself to overcome those two careless words.
  • The 7th grade gym teacher who bellowed “You run like you’re pulling a trailer!” humiliating me in front of my classmates. I am slow. And well, this one might be close to the truth but who cares how fast I run? Not me.
  • The father who left my mother several times because he “just couldn’t take it anymore” and helped me interpret the world of relationships as unpredictable and impossible for me to attain. I am unlovable. Not true. I have found true love within myself first, and from others since.

So how do we overcome these false beliefs? How to we change the way we think and talk about ourselves? Well, first we begin to notice our habitual thinking patterns and then we create new affirmations to recover our truth.

Louise Hay said, “If you want to clean house you need to see the dirt.”And even though that’s not always fun and games, it can be extremely liberating.

Our yoga practice teaches us to be the observer of our thoughts. The things we repeat in our mind become affirmations, and those affirmations shape our beliefs about ourselves.

Notice how you fill in the blank for the following statement:

I am ____________.

I am stupid? I am fat? I am slow? I am unlovable? All untrue.

Be intentional and practice changing your affirmations with more empowering statements – affirm the truth about yourself!

I am wise. I am healthy. I am strong. I am worthy of love. 100% truth.

“The real you is loving, joyful and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun.”  ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

My friend, you came into this life just like my baby grandson will – pure love and light, innocent and full of potential, free from the opinions of others. I hope you can find a way to reconnect to this, and use it to establish some really sweet affirmations for yourself.

What are your current “I am” statements and how will you be changing those going forward?

I am so grateful to have you on this journey.

PS: This is also a reminder to be gentle with your words toward others. You just never know how your opinion will land. Be so kind to yourself and others.

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10 Things I Loved About Our Yoga Friends Retreat 2019

Good day, yoga friend.

Have you ever treated yourself to an intentional weekend of yoga, rest and relaxation by attending a yoga retreat? I’ve been on just two retreats myself, and now I have the honor of saying I’ve actually led a yoga retreat for others.

I loved organizing and planning the retreat for 17 guests, my daughter and myself. I loved spending the weekend with like-minded souls and witnessing friendships being grown and all those happy faces.

I can’t wait to plan our next retreat!

Our time at El Ranch Robles in Oracle, Arizona was amazing! When the weekend was done and we were driving home, my daughter, Carrie, asked what my favorite part of the retreat was, and then we spent some time talking about all the things we had loved about our weekend.

It was hard to put my top 10 favorite things in order, but I gave it a shot…

10 – The food – Oh my goodness we were so fortunate to have a talented chef and his staff who catered to us over the weekend. Gourmet meals with options for guests who had dietary preferences, and the desserts… Everyone went crazy for that flour-less chocolate torte with raspberry sauce and fresh whipped cream.

9 – The venue and all that nature!El Rancho Robles is a 100+ year old property and is simply charming. It’s a rustic venue and was just perfect for our group of earth-loving yoga friends. We saw lots of lizards, beautiful birds including a few very large ravens and one little quail, bunnies, squirrels and thankfully, no snakes. We enjoyed a few lingering wildflowers, and those beautiful oak trees (robles).

8 – Mandala workshop – Carrie and I hosted three workshops on Saturday, and I had the pleasure of teaching our guests how to draw their own mandala designs. It’s always so fun to see the designs that take shape, as well as the calm and quiet vibe that happens when a group of yogis drop into the magic of their own mandala designs. I also had copies of some of my mandala designs for those who just wanted to color. Ah – I loved leading this workshop…

7 – Carrie’s Elements Workshop – I didn’t attend my daughter’s class because I wanted to give her space and I was also craving some resting time myself. While I don’t have photos of her workshop, I have to say that I was so proud of the information and messages she shared with our yoga friends. The rest of the weekend was peppered with talk about missing elements and astrology terms. I was so proud of my girl, and so happy our guests loved the things she shared.

6 – Journal Workshop – Carrie and I led this one together and it was so much fun! We each talked about our own journal practices, Carrie passed around some of her great-grandmother’s journals/sketch books for everyone to see, and we had a few ideas for journal prompts for writing inspiration. I loved busting out the bags of words I’ve been clipping out of magazines and seeing others use them on their journal pages.

5 – Fire Pit Friendship Circle – We gathered at the fire pit on Saturday evening for s’mores, glow bracelets, conversation and maybe a little wine. It was such a sweet way to close out our full day, and I loved this time together so much!

4 – Nature Mandala – Before we left El Rancho Robles on Sunday morning, we met near the back of the property to create a gratitude mandala using things we found in nature. We spent 15 minutes gathering items, and met back at our mandala spot to arrange the prettiest design to leave behind. Nature mandalas honor the space we’ve been in and signify the impermanence of all things in this life. It was a beautiful closing ceremony.

3 – The Yoga – Oh my goodness I loved leading yoga practices in this space! We practiced in a building called “The Carriage House” and I did my best to change things up a bit from the regular classes I typically lead. Friday night we enjoyed a yin yoga practice with Yoga Nidra to cap it off. Saturday morning was a more active “rise and shine” practice, and we had chair yoga in the afternoon. Sunday morning was a little yin, and a little yang, and my car alarm sounding loudly during Savasana. Ah…memories. Ha! Anyway, the practice space was great and I LOVED leading yoga in the midst of that beautiful natural setting.

2 – Friendships Formed – One of my favorite things about teaching yoga is seeing friendships formed on the mat. I’ve always said friends found on yoga mats are the best kind of friends, and it was just such an honor to witness a group of yoginis getting to know and love each other. (No group photo to share here on the blog because I promised not to, but it’s a sweet photo I have for my own collection!)

1 – Time with my girl, Carrie – If forced to choose my most favorite thing about our retreat weekend, I would have to say it was having the opportunity to spend the weekend doing all these things with my daughter. She’s an adult now, married with a baby of her own on the way, so our time together felt extra precious and that blessing was not lost on me.

Here we are, driving the resort golf cart to deliver guest gift bags before everyone arrived on Friday. SO FUN!

What a lucky girl I am! I feel incredibly blessed by my life’s journey with yoga and all of the wonderful people who are in my life because of this practice.

If you attended my retreat THANK YOU for being part of this amazing experience. If you weren’t able to join us this time, watch for future retreats to be announced in my newsletters.

I wish you love and light as you read these words. I’m so grateful for our connection.

PS: Click here to sign up for my email newsletters. It’s a great way to keep up to date on my yoga projects, events and announcements.

Weekly Words of Wisdom – FOUNDATION

F O U N D A T I O N ~ “If the foundation is firm the building can withstand calamities. The practice of yoga is the foundation so that the Self is not shaken under any circumstances.” ~ BKS Iyengar

By divine design, our feet are meant to walk on uneven surfaces. Before tile and hard floors, we walked on sand, rocks and in the forest. That helped to keep the bones and muscles in our feet supple, flexible and stable. Now we walk on flat surfaces, and often wear shoes that aren’t supportive.

Just like a tall building, when the foundation of our body is unstable, our entire structure is compromised. Bringing strength and stability to our feet and ankles also brings strength and stability to the knee joints and helps keep us steady on our feet.

When we release the bottoms of the feet with massage, we also release the line of fascia that runs from the bottom of the feet, up the backs of the legs, the back of the body and connects at the base of the skull. Releasing tension in the feet can release tension all the way up the back of the body!

We also have reflexology points in our feet. There’s so much potential for healing when we release tension from the feet.

Stabilize your foundation with this simple foot release.

How to: Choose a wooden dowel, tennis ball, golf ball or a smooth river rock to release trigger points in the feet. My favorite is a rock! Please note that my movements in the video are quite a bit faster than I would normally move for this release. Take your time here.

Begin with your rock (dowel or ball…) just under the toes and lean in. Pause and breathe, then move the rock to another position. Pause, breathe, repeat until your entire foot has been worked.

Step away from the rock and take a few slow, deliberate steps to notice the difference between your feet. Be sure to massage your other foot to even yourself out!

That takes care of our physical foundation…

When YOGA is the foundation for how we live, we build a resilience to stress, enjoy greater ease and deeper joy.

How might you work to improve your FOUNDATION today?

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Weekly Words of Wisdom – BALANCE

B A L A N C E ~ “Balance is not something you find; it’s something you create.” ~ Jana Kingsford

When I cue tree pose (vrksasana) to a group of children on yoga mats, there’s a playfulness around our practice. There’s curiosity and healthy competition – “Look how long I can stand on one foot!” They fall in and out of the pose, and laugh about it every time.

The scenario is different when I’m leading adults. Falling could cause an injury – to our body and/or our ego. Maybe we don’t feel steady on our feet and there’s an element of fear involved.

As a yoga teacher, I often hear students proclaim, “I have terrible balance.”

I challenge that every time because I believe there is no “good balance” and there is no “bad balance.” There is “practiced balance” and “unpracticed balance.”

Several things contribute to our capacity for balance, and one of those things is strength and stability in the core. When the midsection of our body is strong and stable, we hold ourselves up with greater ease. We are also quicker to steady ourselves if we stumble.

Cultivating a regular yoga practice helps to strengthen the core. It also helps strengthen and stabilize the feet, ankles, knees and hips, providing a solid foundation for the entire body.

Let’s not forget that yoga also fosters focus and deep breathing – two important aspects of practicing tree pose.

Come to your yoga mat with a sense of playfulness and curiosity. Pick yourself up, lift the corners of your mouth, and then stand on one foot. If you fall, laugh about it and try again.

We don’t find balance, we create it.

Practice creating that for yourself.

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Weekly Words of Wisdom – MIRROR

M I R R O R ~ “Magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”

While she might have had a mean streak, at least the Evil Queen wasn’t afraid to challenge her mirror to affirm what she already thought she knew. Whenever she asked, she fully expected to be validated that SHE was the fairest of them all.

Several of the rooms where I teach yoga have large mirrored walls that cannot be avoided. In rooms that are partially mirrored, I witness some students intentionally placing their mats in spaces to avoid being able to see their reflection.

Many times I’ll invite my students to look at their reflection in the mirror and I offer, “Behold yourself in all your glory!” I encourage them to witness themselves on their yoga mat, doing the best they can and continuing to show up.

The relationship we have with our own reflection is an interesting one. Truth is – I’ve spent most of my life criticizing myself every time I looked in a mirror. When I learned about Louise Hay’s mirror work, that began to change.

It’s awkward at first, though it does get easier with time and practice. You basically look at yourself in the mirror and speak the words “I love you.” Bring it on home by speaking your name: “I love you, [Deb]. I really love you.”

Practice this for yourself when you look into the mirror. Muster up as much love and compassion for yourself as you would for your best friend. In all your glory, doing the best you can and continuing to show up! You are worthy of your own love and affection, so look yourself in the eye and affirm that.

“Magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”

Why, you are my friend. YOU. ARE.

PS: Click here to sign up for my email newsletters. It’s a great way to keep up to date on my yoga projects, events and announcements.