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whatever it is, it's ok
Upset with myself for not getting on my mat for one whole week.
Dealing with some serious stressors. Feeling achy, stressed and somewhat defeated I ask myself what kind of yogi am I?!
What kind of yogi doesn't do yoga for ONE WHOLE WEEK?!?!
It came to me.... The answers.... What kind of yogi?
The kind who honours the way she is feeling. Who doesn't force herself to do anything she doesn't feel is truly desired or authentic in that moment.
The yogi who has faith and knows that all things pass and she will be back on her mat soon because yoga is an inherent part of her life now.
Then, upon more reflection I realized even more (This excited me!). Yoga isn't all or only about asanas (physical poses)!
It's about the eight limbs written by Patanjali! I realized I DID do yoga every moment of everyday this week!
I did pranayama (breathing exercises), I practiced pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), I practiced dharana (concentration to still the mind).
All of which kept me grounded throughout a week which in the past would have deemed me extremely anxious and fearful.
Yoga is so much more than the twisty poses we see online. It's a practice of mindfulness and attention to our core being.
I am so proud to be a yogi and so tremendously humbled by yoga and the tools it provides for me to cope with everyday life. Grateful, grateful, grateful!
My name is Audra Kay. I'm a yoga teacher. I'm also a mother of 4, wife, all levels painting teacher and forever student. I teach various styles of yoga including Vinyasa Flow, Hatha Yoga, Yin/Yang, Yin, and Restorative Yoga. Incorporating yogic philosophy, imagery, pranayama (breath work) and movement. I gently encourage my students to explore their limits to achieve strength and balance
to become centered and grounded. My philosophy is simply to be the best that I can be at any given moment, whether that be on the mat or off. To connect with Audra, join her Facebook group Yoga In My Heart.
I'll be back to blogging next week. Look out for guest blogs once a month. If you're interested in writing about yoga, meditation, spirituality, or self-love email me at email@example.com
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by BRENÉ BROWN
My rating: 5/5
In Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are, readers get to learn about wholehearted living, or how to engage in life as if you are inherently worthy.
Throughout the book readers learn how courage, compassion, and connection help develop an innate sense of worthiness. Brown dares to talk and in some cases define – a variety of big-concept words – and she even warns us in her introduction. Love, belonging, authenticity, spirituality, hope, and joy are some of the big ideas Brown goes into detail about.
The book is structured in a way so that the bigger, broader concepts behind wholehearted living get covered first; and then it goes into ten amazingly detailed guideposts for cultivation of the desirable wholehearted life. With lots of stories woven into research theory, the book offers a full outlook onto how to approach life in a wholehearted way, and tells why it’s even important.
Brown is a writer and research professor at the University Of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work. She’s known for fabulous TED talks on vulnerability and shame, and her work has been recognized by the likes of Oprah Winfrey. Other books of hers are Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012) and Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution (2015).
The Gifts of Imperfection gave various accounts from Brown’s life and included her going through her own breakdown AKA spiritual awakening after making discoveries in her research. The reader gets to experience Brown in such a personal way; it’s hard to imagine being able to relate so much to any other academic through their writing about what they discovered from research. Her writing is vivid, but at the same time so seamless and easy to follow.
Besides adding in her own stories, Brown’s book is sprinkled with quotes and references to many other writers. There’s a shared wisdom to be gained from the book. It’s not all about what Brown says and thinks. She clearly states that her findings come from trying to decode stories from her research, based on the Grounded Theory methodology.
What makes this book so impactful is how there is a chapter dedicated to each of the ten guideposts Brown has so kindly “gifted” readers. Brown’s ability to organize such a concise list, while also unpacking so much relevant explanations speak to her academic mind and writing talent.
Overall, the book is a mind blowing and oddly satisfying overview to understanding the pain and imperfections that come from being human. Bottom line: We are worthy, we struggle to live like we are, and we can do something about it.
DID YOU SAY GIVEAWAY?
There are lots of amazing things about Brown, but my favorite thing about her is how her work ended up affecting her personal life and it ultimately led to her having to practice what she preaches. It was uneasy for her, but I’m grateful for the example she’s given to so many.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.” (p. 125) If that idea interests you even one bit, I urge you to get the book and read it. It’s definitely a “Must Read” and I rarely ever think of books like that. But while I was reading it, I genuinely wished I had read it sooner because it helped me make sense of my pain.
Because of how beautiful and helpful this book is, I'm paying it forward and giving it away. I’m doing a giveaway in my Facebook group. Join the group and enter to win the book.
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Going to the beach. Camping trips. Family vacations.
Those are the kind of activities that fill our calendars as we approach summer. And while it’s fun to go out and enjoy summer, it’s easy to get carried away with the “busyness” of summer.
While the sun shines down on us, I find myself wanting to burst with the same type of energy. I want to run, jump, and soak up the sun. Only thing is, I always find myself getting exhausted from my summer plans if I’m not careful.
So to minimize any summer time burn out, I'm going to make a particular type of yoga practice part of my summer plans. Here’s a five-pose sequence to keep you grounded and rejuvenated between your summer adventures. These poses are relatively gentle and more cooling than heat-inducing.
Take some time at least once a week to set your own pace with a yoga routine for self-care. Or better yet, find ways to incorporate these poses into your fast paced, breezy summer days.
NO. 1 EASY POSE/SUKHASANA
Easy pose is the quintessential meditation pose.
Find a straight, neutral spine and a stable foundation to sit in for a couple of breaths.
Notice if there’s any mental chatter or tension in your body. If it’s part of your practice, you can meditate for 5-10 minutes.
Take it with you: If you’re outside, it’s also fun to sit in easy pose and take in a beautiful view while on a picnic or at a beach.
NO. 2 mountain pose/tadasana
Mountain pose is standing pose. The difference from your normal stance and mountain pose is whether you’re aware of your alignment and energy. Here are some tips.
Foundation: Notice your feet placement. Take your feet hip width apart. Press down into the four corners of your feet.
Activation: Engage your leg muscles and notice if you can feel an upward energy from your feet. Think of your feet as roots drawing up energy into the trunk of your body, going through the crown of your head.
Core: Your spine is supported by slight engagement in your core. Your shoulders are also relaxed and your arms fall naturally by your side.
Choosing to stand intentionally and adjusting your stance into mountain pose can be one of the easiest ways to do yoga right on the spot. Try this out the next time you find yourself standing.
NO. 3 LOW LUNGE/ANJANEYASANA
Lunges can be both a strengthening and grounding experience.
From standing, step one leg back and lower your knee.
Make sure your hips are facing straight in front of you and that your knee doesn’t go beyond your ankle.
You may want to draw attention to your core and make sure there's the same engagement in lunge as in mountain pose to support your torso.
Your arms can be down, or you can lift them up. Whatever your body calls for once you get the lower legs settled.
Notice the points of contact in your lower body. And don’t forget to do both sides!
NO. 4 TREE POSE/VRKSASANA
Tree pose is fun because it’s a balancing pose.
If you can balance, you can feel as majestic as a redwood. If you have a little trouble, it’s a reminder to not take yourself too seriously :)
From standing, shift your weight onto one foot.
Take the opposite foot and place the heel onto the standing leg’s ankle.
If you want to take it a step further, you could take your foot onto your calf or thigh.
It’s fun to grow branches and lift your arms.
Or, you can keep your hands in prayer position and focus your energy at your heart center, holding onto whatever sensation or insight you notice.
Take it with you: Tree pose is extremely fun to do outside! Take off your shoes and ground your foot into nature while you’re at it.
NO. 5 SEATED FORWARD FOLD/PASCHIMOTTANA
To turn your energy inward and find a sense of calm, it may be helpful to try a seated forward fold.
The point of this pose isn’t to reach your toes, but to bend from your hips while keeping your spine neutral. You could also try bending your knees as you reach toward your toes. There's no shame in that and it might actually be safer for your lower back if your hamstrings are tight.
As you lean forward, breathe into your lower back and find a sense of surrender.
"Summertime is always the best of what might be." -Charles Bowden
No matter how you end up spending your summer this year, I hope you get tons of sun (especially those of us in Pacific Northwest) and lots more fun with those you love. May you stay cool, hydrated, and centered.
Do you have any exciting summer plans? Do you find yourself getting restless or exhausted, or do you find it easy to keep up with the pace of summer? Comment below.