Don't Miss the next Teacher Training. Columbus classes beginning January 10, 2014

Are You Growing or Dying?

Are You Growing or Dying?

A thing grows when it is challenged or stressed in a positive way.  For example, a muscle grows when it is repeatedly challenged with lifting greater weight. You grow when you are challenged to do something you want to do – like lose weight, get a degree, improve your self, etc.

Conversely, a thing starts dying when it is constantly bombarded by non-productive stress like such as being over-challenged, overbooked, or unhappy in one’s family or career life.

It’s the difference between good stress and bad stress.

Growth is our birthright. Growth offers the prospect of success or failure, things that gives our life meaning and purpose, according to ultra-athlete Richard Roll. Get a dose of Roll’s inspiration here.NYTTLightUPhandstands

When was the last time you invested in yourself in something you really wanted to do for your own growth and betterment?

Why not up-level your wellness? Do some yoga.

Or if you’re a yoga teacher, why not advance your teaching to the next level?

Learn more about my upcoming Advanced Yoga Teacher Training starting September 18th now.

Change Your Story, Change Your Life

Change Your Story, Change Your Life

I couldn’t believe it. Driving home the other night from a friend’s house, my husband and I pulled up behind a car with a license plate that said, Woe is me.

Seriously? I can’t imagine being so attached to my negative self-talk that I’d put it on a license plate!

In the yoga teacher training, we learn from the ancient yoga teachings how thoughts, known as vrittis, create reality.  The more we think a thought, the more we attract the energy of that thought.

Tip #1

change story lifeTry noticing your thoughts before you believe them lock, stock and barrel.  Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, a landmark yoga text tells us that we should practice seeing our thoughts without reacting to them. By doing this, we put a little space between our Self and our thought, and this buys us the time to respond, rather than re-act.

Tip #2

Keep a journal of your thought patterns for a week. Notice any common thoughts or thought trends? How do you think this affects you and your ability to live your most purposeful, wildly successful life?

Enjoying learning these tips?

If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program.  In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more. The next one starts July 11th and there are still some seats open.

Then let me know here how your practice is going!

Love and brilliance,

Laurel

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“Be who God intended you to be and you will set the world on fire.”-Catherine of Sienna

Back Bending: From Pain to Bliss

Back Bending: From Pain to Bliss

I often hear a sigh of disgruntlement when I introduce the first backbend in a yoga class.  Back bending is demanding, and sometimes it even hurts.

But it shouldn’t—at least not for most.

Why does a backbend hurt? There are a lot of possible reasons.  For some, the muscles of the back are simply imbalanced.  One side is stronger, so it pulls the spine shorter faster causing it to rotate and put pressure on the joint on that side.  Similarly, tight muscles on the front side of the body can prevent back bending.

For others it could be the boney architecture of the spine simply won’t allow deep back bending, but the student is convinced with effort and eagerness, s/he can force it to go further. Still yet, others may have injury or degeneration in the spine. Some have poor alignment. With so much effort and energy focused on muscling into the pose, it’s easy to do!

Try these tips to reconfigure your back bend on a path towards bliss.

Tip #1:

Back bendWhen pressing into backbend, be sure to plant your foundation and hold it as you transition up into the pose.  Your foundation is your hands and your feet. Often times, students turn their feet out and move their hands just as they are pressing up. That’s like moving the footer of a building as you are trying to pour the concrete foundation. Not good!

Tip #2:

Come up onto your heels. This will create more space for your lumbar spine and you might just be able to straighten your arms or be pain free for the first time. If that doesn’t work, try putting your feet on some blocks.

Enjoying learning these tips?

If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program.  In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more.  The next one starts January 10th and there are still some seats open.

Then let me know here how your practice is going!

Love and brilliance,

Laurel

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“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”–Rumi

How to Get Those Cranky Hamstrings to Let Go!

How to Get Those Cranky Hamstrings to Let Go!

The single biggest flexibility challenge I hear students complain about is their hamstrings.

If you sit at work long hours, drive in the car and most of your physical activity involves some form of walking or running, and you’re of legal age, you have the perfect recipe for tight hamstrings!  Add a little stress and you have a trifecta.

Stress makes muscles tense—preparing them for fight or flight—whether the stress is a deadline or a difficult yoga pose.

If you practice a stressful yoga pose without consciously calming yourself, your muscles—including your hamstrings—will tense up!

Tip #1:

Back off and breathe. Make sure the intensity of the stretch on a scale of 1-10 is a level 6 or 7, no more. When you push too far or too fast into a stretch, special nerve sensors in the muscles send signals to the brain telling it to contract the muscle to prevent it from tearing. Put simply, if cranky hamstring stretchyou push too hard too fast, you’re just making the job harder.

Tip #2:

Direct the stretch into the belly of the hamstring. If you feel pulling or stretching directly behind the knee or near the sitz bones, you’ll want to redirect it. Start by bending the knee(s) a little and then dog-tilt the pelvis. You may not go any further, but I guarantee you’ll feel the stretch in a whole new healthy way!

Enjoying learning these tips?

If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program. In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more. The next one starts July 11th and there are still some seats open.

Then let me know here how your practice is going!

Love and brilliance,

Laurel

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“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”
―Steve Maraboli, Live, the Truth and Being Free

How to Handle Conflict Like a Yogi

How to Handle Conflict Like a Yogi

I think it’s fair to say that we all hate conflict. Yet, it’s a part of life we all face at times. Some of us are better at avoiding it than others. When conflict arises—we don’t agree with our spouse or how our boss is treating us—we avoid it.

Sometimes conflict can be about the little things. But what I’m talking about here are the bigger things. Things like when you are really upset, frustrated, hurt or angry.

Usually in these situations, the first response is no response. We put up and shut up, as the saying goes. We keep our unhappiness to ourselves, and possibly gossip about the person we’re upset with. Or, we may even chide ourselves for feeling the way we do.

But as the conflict arises again and again, the hurt, frustration and anger accumulate inside.

What do to?

Thankfully the yoga teachings give us clear guidance and tools. In fact, it’s extensive. I’ll share with you a few key tips here.

Tip #1:

Don’t ignore yourself! Pay attention when you feel hurt, disappointed, angry, frustrated or annoyed with a person. Don’t just brush it under the Conflictcarpet. What event triggered the feelings? Write it down. Allow yourself to own your feelings, no judgment. Resisting or denying them doesn’t make them go away. It only makes them grow bigger and stick around.

Tip #2:

Do a little self-reflection. Why is the event causing these feelings? Don’t censor. Are you upset because a boundary was crossed? Is there something you need to say or do?

Enjoying learning these tips?

If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program. In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more. The next one starts July 11th and there are still some seats open.

Then let me know here how your practice is going!

Love and brilliance,

Laurel

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“What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but small matters compared to what lies within us.”  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

How to Start a Home Yoga Practice

How to Start a Home Yoga Practice

Did you know yoga was designed to be taught one-on-one? Not in classroom settings?

The reason? Yoga is individual. Not everybody’s body is the same. Not everyone needs the same thing.

While launching a home yoga practice is a great way to advance your practice—and a huge time saver—it’s no easy task!

One of the fastest ways to launch your home practice is to do a yoga teacher training. I can’t speak for other programs, but I know in mine everyone is encouraged and expected to develop one. Though it’s challenging while in process, many graduates thank me years later.

For years before I opened the first dedicated yoga studio in Columbus, I practiced alone at home. There simply wasn’t anywhere else to go or take class.  There were a few things that really worked to get me going.

So here are some of the ground breaking tips we teach in the training to help get your home practice going.

Tip #1:

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a home practice.  Start with something small and realistic.  You wouldn’t run a marathon cold turkey.

Tips #2:

Woman doing yoga meditation at homeSet a daily practice time, even if it’s only 15 minutes—and keep it.  Even if you take classes, there’s no substitute for a personal home practice.  Your home practice will teach you to listen very closely to your body and what it needs.  Even if all you do is sit on your mat for the 15 minutes, you’re making progress. Choose a time that works every day. My favorite is 6am.  I get the most important—and possibly most difficult thing—done before my work day begins. And, I feel like a million bucks.

Enjoying learning these tips?

If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program.  In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more.  The next one starts July 11th and there are still some seats open.

Then let me know here how your practice is going!

Love and brilliance,

Laurel

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“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint,’ by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”—Vincent Van Gogh

How to Never Give Up on Your Yoga Practice

How to Never Give Up on Your Yoga Practice

Have you ever been to a yoga class, or started your home practice, with every ounce of you soul counting the minutes until it’s over?

I know I have.  It’s normal for our energy to wax and wane.   One of my teachers, Shiva Rea once said that every time you start a yoga practice, it’s like setting sail. You have to test the wind in order to know where and how to set sail.  The goal isn’t to have some amazing outcome.  It’s to show up, do the practice over a long period of time (lifetime).  Then the result will fruit.

Here are some tips to get you started on surrendering to your state of being and doing the practice.

Tip #1:

Focus on your breath, not the postures.  Allow yourself to go through the motions focusing on your breath, accepting and owning your resistance or tiredness. Rest when you need it. Measure your success not by how diligently you work the poses, but by the simple fact that you are moving and breathing.

Tip #2:

Couple meditating at the beach with arms upUsing oceanic ujjayi breath, practice emphasizing the exhales. Follow them with a short pause before the inhale.  This puts your body in a state of rest, safety and ease—a place where it can begin to restore and reset.

Enjoying learning these tips?

If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program.  In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more.  The next one starts July 11 and there are still some seats open.

Then let me know here how your practice is going!

Love and brilliance,

Laurel

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“Do your practice and all is coming.”—Pattabhi Jois

The Secret to Balancing on One Leg

The Secret to Balancing on One Leg

Laurel_leg_behind_headDo you ever have trouble balancing in Tree, Half Moon, Dancer or Eagle poses?

These seemingly simple poses can be challenging.

Balancing on one foot requires balanced action between the inside and the outside of the leg.  For most of us, one part is stronger than the other, and this creates struggle, imbalance and challenge.

I’ll be the first to admit it. Balancing on my left leg is still a challenge after more than 20 years of yoga!  Yes, I had a soft tissue surgery on that side, and that hasn’t made things any easier.  But the problem existed long before the surgery. My left side is my non-dominant side.

Tip #1:

Don’t hold your breath!  The first thing we tend to do is hold the breath when we are concentrating.  But eventually you’ll have to take a big inhale and this will disrupt your balance.

Tip #2:

balance one legA quick look at your feet and shoes will give you a clue if you are a supinator or pronator.  Pronators will tend to roll and drop the inner arch of the foot towards the midline floor.  Supinators will do the opposite, turning toes out, rolling to outer edge of foot.  Which are you?

Work to establish equal weight in the four corners of your feet:  big toe mound, little toe mound (at base of toes), inner heel and outer heel.  Sometimes it helps to lift the toes to connect all four points or bend the knee.  Through this, you’ll begin to strengthen the weak side of the leg.

Enjoying learning these tips?

If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program.  In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more.  The next one starts July 11 and there are still some seats open.

Then let me know here how your practice is going!

Love and brilliance,

Laurel

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“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” –Albert Einstein

How do You Find Balance?

How do You Find Balance?

Laurel_Headshot_SD.croppedHave you ever found yourself struggling to balance in high lunge or triangle pose?

It seems ridiculous that with two feet on the ground, our balance would be compromised. But I see it all the time in my students and clients.

So how do you find balance? It starts by finding your center physically and figuratively.

Tip #1:

Build the pose from the ground up, just like you’d build a skyscraper. Make sure the weight bearing parts (foundation) are properly set. Feet not too close or not too far apart. If you’re in a pose where the front leg is bent, step the feet far enough apart that the front leg can bend 90 degrees.

Tip #2:

iStock_woman_lungingUnplug the pose by putting your hands on hips or on the floor or blocks so you can support yourself and easily move your feet precisely to where you want them. This is critical. If you are stepped too wide, you’ll get exhausted quickly; stepped too close and you will teeter.

Enjoying learning these tips?

If so, it may be time to consider enrolling in my Yoga Teacher Training Program. In it, you’ll learn mat skill secrets to advance your practice and much more. The next one starts on July 11th and there are still some seats open.

Then let me know here how your practice is going!

Love and brilliance,

Laurel

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Triage: 9 Tips to Remedy Accidental Gluten Exposure

Triage: 9 Tips to Remedy Accidental Gluten Exposure

I went gluten free eight years ago when I was told by my doctors they thought I had thyroid cancer.

I didn’t. After visiting a number of experts, I came to learn that I had a nodule of inflammation in my thyroid. I had thyroiditis—inflammation of the thyroid. And it was making me feel awful.

After a little research, I discovered that there is a HUGE correlation between thyroiditis and gluten intolerance. So I gave it up right then and there. It wasn’t easy because in 2006 there were no gluten substitute foods. I had to go cold turkey.

Fast forward three years when my husband joined me in my gluten-free world. After a car wreck, and stressful end to his GM dealership shortly after the GM bail out, he woke up crippled one day. Seriously. He couldn’t even put his own socks on. He screamed when I put the covers over him at night.

His agonizing pain was a terrible recipe for two people who fell in love at Crew soccer game over a lively conversation about snow skiing. Not long after, we found our way to adventuring during the Ohio summers on our mountain bikes.

Until the day he woke up crippled, and we thought our love affair with life—and eventually each other—was over. For about 18 months we tried to find the answer until one day we stumbled upon it. As soon as he went gluten free, he started feeling better!

iStock_000016948701SmallNeedless to say, we both avoid gluten like the plague!

We only go to restaurants with gluten free menus. Recently, we went to Houlihan’s—not because it’s at the top our list of healthy eats—but because we were tired, it was convenient and they had a gluten free menu.

Or so we thought.

I didn’t sleep a wink, inflamed from head to toe. He was up all night with crazy digestive distress. We had a gluten exposure.

It wasn’t the first time this had happened. I followed up with the manager and he apologized. But I also got motivated to figure out how to triage those unwanted, inevitable accidental gluten exposures.

I hope these help you feel better faster!
1. Take Enzymes.

As soon as you realize you’ve had a gluten exposure, you may want to take DDP enzymes, which have been shown to be effective in digesting gluten in some individuals. I’m copying an excerpt below from Sheila Wagner, certified nutritionist specializing in food intolerance.

“I recommend having DPP-IV enzymes available to assist with lessening the gluten response. DPP stands for dipeptidyl peptidase and it is one of many enzymes that we make in our small intestine. Among its many functions is its ability to digest gluten and casein. Lab studies have shown a decrease in blood levels of gluten antibodies following ingestion of manufactured DPP-IV enzymes.

There is no one protocol for taking the enzymes but I often suggest taking 1-2 capsules as soon as possible after ingesting gluten (or dairy) and then again later in the evening on an empty stomach in order to mop up any gluten that remains in the system. Some people continue to take 1-2 capsules on an empty stomach the next day and even two days following gluten ingestion to continue their attempts at diminishing the slow acting gluten antibody responses.”

I like DDP-IV Enzyme by Kirkman labs. I happen to be a patient of the wonderful Dr. Mark Hyman. He’s had me on these enzymes since day one and I swear by them. Only down side is that you have to get them through a medical doctor.

2. Hydrate.

Avoid caffeine or sodas, just plain water. This helps cool inflammation and mobilize toxins out of your body.

3. Take an Epsom Salt bath.

Magnesium is the wonder mineral. If you eat a grain-free or nearly grain-free diet, you will naturally be low on this nutrient. It’s most easily absorbed through the skin, relaxes the colon and muscles and helps you eliminate. Just be sure not to make the bath water too warm as this can stress your system.

I also like to rub my feet with Magnagel. Rubbing in the arches of the feet from inner foot to outer edge approximates the location of the digestive organs according to reflexology.
4. Eat easily digestible foods.

This is different for everyone. If you tolerate rice, great. But skip GF breads and crackers as they often contain egg which is not easy to digest.

Avoid dairy and anything artificial.

5. Drink bone broth.

Bone broth is a great for a variety of health reasons. Bone broth re-mineralizes your body and contains gelatin which can be soothing and coating to the digestive track.

Be sure to make your own bone broth from grass-fed, preferably locally farm-raised animals. I always keep a couple of bags of organic bison bones in the freezer. Simply throw them into a pot of pure water with some coarsely chopped celery, onion, carrot and bay leaf and boil 20 minutest. Voila! You have bone broth.

Be sure to skim some of the fat off the top or you may feel sick to your stomach. Fat is difficult to digest, especially when your digestive system is under attack by gluten.

6. Rebuild with pro-biotics and L-Glutamine.

Some web sites will tell you to eat fermented foods. I don’t recommend this for a couple of reasons. Celiacs and those who are gluten intolerant often have leaky gut, candida overgrowth or disbyosis. Eating the wrong combo of fermented foods can start a raging war in your gut. Stick to bottled pro-biotics. I like Klaire Sacchromyces Boulardi & Ther-Biotic Detoxification Support. Stick with what you’ve been using as probiotics are unique to every individual.

L-Glutamine is an amino acid that helps restore the health of the villus in the small intestine. The villus are small hair-like structures that absorb nutrients from your food. In gluten intolerant people, a gluten exposure destroys the villus thereby causing poor nutrient absorption.

7. Keep an emergency kit handy.

I did some research on this and don’t actually have a kit on hand. I keep a stash of Dr. Schulz Bowel flush on hand, but frankly, I’m too afraid to try it!

Since every person’s response to gluten is a little different, your emergency kit needs to be specialized, depending on your symptoms. My experience and qualitative documentation of my friends’ experience is that symptoms vary greatly depending on your ayurvedic constitution and whether you are a true celiac or intolerant to one of the other 23 components in gluten to which you may be sensitive. Read more in 50 Shades of Gluten Intolerance for more info on the other types of gluten intolerance.

For example, some people get diarrhea from gluten; others get constipated and feel like their digestion has slowed to a halt with a giant rock in their belly. My husband gets eczema within hours.

If you get diarrhea, you’ll want to focus on things that are anti-spasmodic. Keep in mind, that your body is trying to expel the toxic substance (gluten) and that’s why your bowel is spasming. So it’s not helpful to bring it to a screeching halt. The point is to make yourself more comfortable as your body expels the gluten naturally.

If you get constipation, a different approach is warranted. You may actually need to assist or ignite the elimination process.

Some things you may want to include in your emergency kit:

Ginger
Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and can help with stomach and digestive distress. Also, because of its pungent quality, it can help ignite the digestive system.

On the other hand, if you’re like me and you have a food sensitivity to ginger, do not include it in your emergency kit.

Peppermint Oil
You can use essential oil drops or enteric coated capsules. Peppermint oil is soothing and cooling, especially if you get inflammation (itching, systemic inflammation) from gluten. It can calm the digestive organs as well.

Activated Charcoal
Charcoal is a natural neutralizer of toxins and can help with intestinal gas.

Ground Fennel Seed
Fennel is a great reliever of gas and bloating. Make a tea of ground fennel seed or take fennel seed tablets.
8. Consider drinking Aloe Vera or Nettle Leaf Tea.

I haven’t tired either one of these. But you may find them helpful.

Aloe Vera is cooling and also coats the digestive track. It can be helpful in some instances of constipation; just be sure not to drink it ice cold.

Nettle Leaf has anti-histamine and anti-spasmodic properties. Worth a shot!
9. Rest and get outdoors if possible.

I find that sleep is often elusive when I’ve had a gluten exposure. Trying to sleep when I can’t just makes me more irritable. On the other hand, I find that light physical activity actually helps me recover quickly and it distracts me from my symptoms. A good hike in mother nature is excellent if your body will allow it!

Alternately, you might try meditating using a guided CD. There’s a plethora of evidence that indicates it’s helpful in reducing physical discomfort and pain. There are plenty of options online, or checkout my Mind Over Chatter home study course.