Running tag

My yoga and Pilates clients inspire me daily. I am lucky enough to work with a wide variety of students. From 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds, my teaching practice offers me insight into many ages and stages of life.

 

 

The one theme that has surfaced repeatedly in the past few weeks is how vital a functioning, moving body is to our overall health. I’m sure many of you can relate to a time when you’ve been really sick or injured, and your daily routine has had to change dramatically. And then, when you recover, when you’re back to your regular schedule, you feel so utterly thankful and appreciative of what it feels like to be healthy and to move with ease.

 

Why is it so easy to ignore the gift of health and celebrate our ability to move our bodies until we are challenged by something that threatens these abilities? Many of us take our bodies for granted until we are faced with a stark reminder that the body is fallible and will not always work in the ways we need it to.

 

This week, I encourage you to spend some time being aware of and thankful for the different ways you use your body. For the ability to walk, to jump, to play tag with your children. For the ability to open a door for someone else, to carry your groceries, to strike a yoga pose.

 

Our bodies do so much for us. Let’s do all we can to appreciate them.

 

Happy moving!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Monday meditation, and I’ve missed the act of writing them down, of sitting with the words as they take shape.

 

This week’s meditation is on perception, and the way we allow ourselves to view the world. We are provided with opportunities daily to make judgments on situations, to assign labels to people or relationships, to have an opinion on the actions or beliefs of others. It is human nature to react from our personal viewpoint, from our current life circumstances, which are simply a culmination of our past experiences.

 

 

As I try to impart to my kids, it’s important to recognize that every situation we are involved in, whether good, bad, or somewhere in between, is being seen by us through our own lens. Sometimes the lens can be a little blurry (whether clouded by emotions, bias, or simply the circumstances of the day), and sometimes it can be crystal clear (when we can be as objective as human nature allows).

 

When we’re conscious that the world around us is viewed through more than just our own lens, it can broaden our perspective on life and our daily events.

 

This week, when you’re challenged by something, or are finding it hard to put a situation into perspective, take some time to meditate on what lens you’re looking through. If you imagine seeing the events through a different lens, does it shift your thinking?

 

Happy meditating!

“If stuck, move.” 

 

It’s a simple concept and may seem completely obvious, but there have been many times that I’ve been stuck in a rut (or an emotional state) and haven’t been able to see a way out of it.

 

On days when I have writer’s block, feel overwhelmed with to-do lists or exhausted from a night of broken sleep, when the first instinct I have is to go straight back to bed, the only thing to do is move. Whether it’s rolling out my yoga mat to do a few sun salutations, or slipping on my running shoes for a walk or a jog, the sheer act of moving my body kickstarts my mind.

 

When my kids are getting at each other or going stir crazy inside the house, we change the dynamic by getting outdoors and being active.

 

Movement propels us forward physically, but also mentally. Regardless of how we’re moving, we’re creating fresh energy and changing our situation. It is and always will be my best “way out.”

 

What’s your best way to get out of feeling stuck?

 

I love summer. Longer days, lots of sunshine, lighter clothes, brighter colours. Everything seems easier to me in the summer. I have more energy, I need less sleep, and I seem to have a more relaxed attitude to pretty much everything. I feel more spontaneous, and well, just more fun.

 

But the eternal student in me also loves the fall, and the beginning of a school year.  September feels like more of a new year to me than January 1st. Fresh starts, fresh notebooks, new experiences. This year, more than ever though, I’m realizing that I could really benefit from taking my summer attitude into the school year with me. And I’m sure my husband and kids could benefit too.

 

So, I’ve come up with three things that I can do to mix a little summer into my back-to-school mindset.

 

Stay Open And Adventurous

 

There’s less structure in our household in the summer. My workload changes, the kids have fewer activities, and we have extra long weekends. As a result, I do more things on a whim, say yes more, and make more last-minute plans. This year, come fall, I’m determined not to get bogged down by our schedules. I might not be able to do half or full-day excursions with the kids like we can do in the summer, but we can have spontaneous playdates or dinner parties, I can throw our meal plan out the window every so often, and I can embrace new adventures with the kids.

 

Be Outside As Much As Possible

 

I love the outdoors. And so do my kids. We’re all happiest when we’re out of the house, in the backyard, the park, in nature, or doing something active. A simple bike ride around the neighbourhood is our family go-to for antsy kids, sibling fighting, or general summer lethargy. This fall, I’m resolving to take every opportunity to get outside. Fresh air and activity are good for the body but are just as important for the mind.

 

Take Things Less Seriously

 

I think everyone has a more laissez-faire attitude in the summer. I know that I’m more relaxed in most situations, whether it’s driving in the city, worrying about being on time for things, or simply getting the laundry done. Yet everything that needs to be done gets done. So, this September I’m still going to pick my kids up on time, see my clients, file my articles, take care of the house etc etc. I’m just aiming to keep this relaxed summer attitude, to not worry about silly stuff, and to take everything a little less seriously.

 

 

Who’s with me? Is there anything from your summer mindset that you’re taking with you into fall?

I have friends who jam their schedules from morning to night, who — despite a busy work-life — pack their weeknights and weekends with a variety of activities, and who thrive on full calendars. I also have friends who prefer to stay at home, who keep their calendars quiet and full of white space because these people unravel if they get too busy. I’ve always fallen somewhere in between the two, living a continual dance between the thrill of busy-ness and the peace of a quiet calendar.

 

But what I’ve noticed in the last few months is a pulling back of sorts, like an invisible rein is drawing me more and more towards stillness. In a time when it seems that all around me things are speeding up, I feel the strong urge to slow down. To say no to things. To be very picky about what I take on.

 

Perhaps it’s because as my children get older they have more activities, inherently affecting the overall ebb and flow of the family calendar; perhaps it’s because I’m finding deeper appreciation of the small, simple moments; perhaps it’s because I care less about proving myself or defining my success in relation to others than I once did; or… perhaps it’s all of those things and none of them. Perhaps it’s simply a phase of reflection and quiet, which we all need for varying reasons at different points in our lives.

 

Whatever this means, one theme stands out for me: knowing my limits. Physically, my energy limits change depending on how active my work is on a given week. If I have a particularly busy teaching week, I know that my body is more tired than during a week when the work scale tips in favour of writing. But during a heavy writing week I notice I may have more physical reserves but my mind gets tired more easily.

 

My meditation is always my true north when it comes to re-calibrating my limits. When I drop in to meditation, both my mind and body send signals that are right there in my face. And I cannot avoid seeing or knowing what I need. Sometimes all it takes is a five-minute practice to know that I’ve taken on too much, or that I’m antsy because I have energy that needs to be channelled into a project.

 

Knowing my limits isn’t always easy to accept. There are many things I want to do or feel the urge to get involved with but then have to weigh those things against whether I really have the time or the energy. With social media it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of who’s-doing-what and how quickly and look-at-that-awesome-project and do-you-want-to-join-us-for-this? It’s a yes-girl’s dream. But as a yes-girl, I feel that invisible rein pull even more tightly right now. Because even though I’m enthusiastic about so many things and I do genuinely want to say yes, yes, yes, I’m trying to be aware of my limits.

 

In past experience, just as a low tide is followed by a high tide, my periods of quiet and reflection have often preceded bursts of great creative energy and new chapters. But whatever this quiet may be, I am savouring it and accepting it.

 

Do you know your limits? How do you stay true to them?

 

Although Spring has officially started here in Ontario, the weather is a little late to the game. But there is the promise of warmer temperatures in the air, and the longer days and more frequent sunshine are pleasant reminders of Spring’s arrival. At this time of year, I always feel a surge of energy, a sense of renewal. It’s instinctual.

 

I get the urge to spring clean the house, to get rid of all the clutter that has built up over the winter months and give our house a little makeover from the inside. I notice the desire to eat lighter foods – more salads and fresh, raw veggies – and less of the casseroles and thick soups of winter. Creatively, I am full of ideas and thoughts that have surfaced after simmering quietly in my mind during the early months of the year. And despite being a winter runner, running at this time of year offers a new sense of freedom, and I find an extra spring in my step (without having to navigate icy sidewalks or snowy streets).

 

Generally, Spring feels more like a fresh start to me than the ringing in of the new year.

 

This week I’ll be looking at the four corners of my life – physical, mental, spiritual, emotional – and asking myself where I need to focus my energies the most this Spring. Just as a garden needs nurturing in different ways as the seasons change, so do our bodies and minds. Are there any areas of your life that need a little renewal? This might just be the perfect time of year for it.

 

Every day we experience the world around us through the lens of our respective belief systems. Some of these beliefs are so ingrained in our minds that we’re no longer conscious of why or how they became part of our mental framework in the first place. Beliefs that our parents instilled in us as children, ideas about our own personalities or the world around us that we heard from friends or partners, or assumptions we absorbed into our psyches as a result of difficult life events.

 

But what happens when we challenge our deeply held beliefs? Do they still have meaning within the context of the lives we live, or the lives we want to be living?

 

EmPOWERed YOUth is a fabulous book by father and son, Jeffrey and Michael Eisen that demonstrates the impact of questioning our beliefs. It tells the story of their own personal struggles, their relationship, and the power of open communication and support between parents and children. There are many life lessons in this book, which offers moving narratives as well as powerful exercises for the reader to engage in. But what is readily apparent is that by examining their respective belief systems, both Jeffrey and Michael were able to consciously repair many areas of their (and each other’s) lives that were causing them pain.

 

It’s not always easy to explore your belief system, not to mention letting go of beliefs that you’ve held onto for decades. I’d liken it to getting rid of the most stubborn weeds in my garden. But as I’ve discovered over the last couple of months, (with much credit to Jeffrey Eisen) releasing certain patterns of thinking — or “belief habits” as I’ve come to call them – is extremely liberating.

 

This week, allow yourself to observe the lens through which you view the world. And ask yourself, what beliefs no longer serve you?

There are so many reasons I do yoga: it grounds me, it stretches me out, it strengthens my body, it connects me with my breath, it clears my mind, it decreases stress, it makes me happy, and it keeps me moving. But on March 3rd, 2013, I’m doing yoga for a more important reason: to raise money for arthritis research. I’m participating in the Power of Movement.

 

The Power of Movement is a yoga fundraiser hosted by the Arthritis Research Foundation. On Sunday, March 3rd, thousands of Canadians will take to their mats for this great cause. For the second year in a row, I’m proud to be a Power of Movement champion. Last year, I wrote this post explaining why I’m so passionate about the initiative.

 

Arthritis comes in many shapes and forms. There are over 100 different types, and it estimated that 4.6 million Canadians live with some variety of the disease. The Power of Movement, Canada’s largest yoga fundraiser can make a huge difference in the lives of many.

 

This year, I’m proud to be teaming up with fellow champion Lisa Barkin and taking our Whole Living team to the Toronto event.  The master class is being taught @Jason_Crandell and I know it is going to be an incredible day.

 

If you’re in the GTA and want to be part of the fun, Lisa and I would love for you to join our Whole Living Team. And if you can’t make it to the mat, I hope you’ll consider a donation to give the gift of movement to all Canadians living with arthritis.

 

Namaste,

Annabel

 

My wise friend, and creative life coach extraordinaire, Jamie Ridler, once said to me: “There is something to celebrate everyday. Let’s not get so busy looking at what’s ahead of us that we forget to celebrate our accomplishments today – both big and small.” I think of these words often, especially when it comes to celebrating the smaller moments of life.

 

 

Often we associate the word celebrate with big events – such as birthdays, holidays, occasions – or with major milestones, such as getting a promotion, or signing a book deal.  Of course, all of these happenings do deserve a celebration, and I’m always up for a champagne toast! But I think it’s equally, if not more important, to celebrate the daily moments, the smaller happenings that contribute to our happiness. Because it is the smaller moments, the everyday actions that allow us to arrive at the “bigger” events.

 

What if we approached each day with a celebratory nature, a readiness to applaud ourselves and others for a kind action, for changing a thought pattern, for just being here, for being alive and breathing. It may not be a mindset that we can maintain at all times, but perhaps it can shift our thinking on those difficult days.

 

Today, I’m celebrating the fact that I finally tackled a to-do list I’ve been putting off (man, it feels good!), that I have carved out time for yoga and meditation in my workday, that my kids and I are healthy again after a month of crazy sickness in the household.

 

Looked at individually, these may not seem like momentous things, but as I am reminded of so often, gratitude in small things can alter your view of the world.

 

What are you celebrating today? Congratulations! I’ll raise a virtual glass to you.

 

 

 

 

Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email, e-newsletters, daily updates, tablets, laptops, iPhones, smartphones, texting, messaging, posting, updating, checking in. If you’re like me, trying to keep life relatively simple while at the same time maintain virtual relationships and an online presence, the amount of mental clutter, buzz, and constant information can become overwhelming. Hence, the theme of this week’s Monday meditation: unplugging.

 

We all know it’s good for us to check out and turn off our technology at times, but for many of us it’s also tempting to just check in on Facebook one last time before bed or while the kids are happily playing and don’t appear to need your immediate attention. And then minutes, or sometimes hours later you look up from the screen and…well, you get the picture.

 

The reality of life nowadays is that there are many distractions. People enjoy spending time online or plugged in, and there are people whose livelihood depends on it. For many, it has become extremely difficult to enjoy moments of quiet, of just being, without “checking in.” But truthfully we have a choice over when and how much time we spend being plugged in, or rather when and how much time we spend “unplugging”.

 

When I was in high school and went on holidays with my family, there was no email (remember those times?), no texting (pagers weren’t even around then…), and phone calls were certainly far too expensive to consider (especially if we were travelling internationally). When we went away as a family, we were gone, disconnected, and truly unplugged. We would arrive back home refreshed to a few phone messages on our answering machine (once we actually got one), and I looked forward to the first get-together with my girlfriends to get the scoop on all that had happened while I was away. There were usually some minor dramas to catch up on, but it gradually became apparent to me that life had just continued on as per usual. And here I was ready to jump back in.

 

 

I’m coming off a long weekend of being unplugged, of visiting with a close friend from out of town and her kids. And, although I didn’t go away, I’m reminded of that high school feeling of returning from a holiday. I feel refreshed, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the online world. Sure, there may have been some minor (and major) dramas while I was offline, but I’m pretty sure that life has continued as per usual. Unplugging on a regular basis is both a positive and vital experience for me.

 

This week, I encourage you to explore your thoughts or feelings about being unplugged. Does it cause you anxiety to be offline? Are you constantly checking social media, your phone or your email? What would happen if you didn’t?

 

And if you do “power down” this week, I hope you enjoy your time to the fullest.