Saturday, February 21, 2015

Universal Love Notes From the Year of the Goat


Dear Everybody,



As we ring in the year of the Goat, and travel through the astrological sign of Pisces, I just wanted to say I love you. Did you hear me? Yes. I mean you. This universe is a magical and wondrous place, and as I write you this love note, I can feel into the beauty that you are. If you take a few moments each day to tap into the invisible thread that binds us together, and allow yourself to surrender to that supportive force of nature, you will feel it too. I am a goat, so I know from experience that these creatures are creative and loving, which sets the tone for the year.

We are surrounded by this dreamy universal love energy when in the pools of the sign of Pisces. Pisces rules creativity, dream time, poetry, film and dance. Astrologically speaking, we are also crashing into our final of seven squares that have been demanding radical and deep transformational change. We have each been asked to make transformational change collectively and individually since 2012 and will feel the reverberation of these aspects well into the Summer. During these "exciting times", it is wise to find ways to mellow out. I know that when I am feeling agitated or angry, it is due to my not taking the time and space I need for myself. Then I have much to give from that place. What if each being took responsibility and cared for themselves enough daily? From there, fill others with that same love. The key is to create space. Dancing and Yoga are highlighted, rather than gym workouts. Be sure to get plenty of rest, adhere to a diet that is high in water content such as fruits and vegetables. Meditation is effortless in the sea of Pisces energy, so now is an ideal time to begin a meditation practice.

Here are some ways to relax and let go: 



CALM powder at night. Magnesium will relax you into a dreamy sleep.

Meditation AM and PM. Press the reset button and listen for cues.

Legs Up Wall Pose. Forward bends will do the trick to relaxing your nervous system.

Rebounder. A great cardio activity will release excess tension. Rebounding is also great for the lymphatic system.

Paint, or find a creative activity like knitting that allows your brain to rest for a while.

Dance. Allow yourself to be fluid and expressive.


As we head into the Spring and the energy shifts, I have some exciting announcements upcoming about a Y28 mind-body makeover weight loss challenge beginning on March 25th. So stay tuned for that in the next couple of weeks. Or visit dietbet.com/mandy for a preview!

In the meantime, reset yourself and be in the love.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Break Your Own Rules

I have a confession to make. I'm an absolute task master. It's true, I'm a natural born disciplinarian. A self starter from way back in the day. It is not something that I learned, or forced myself to do. I was born this way. I make my own rules, and I always have. I came out of the womb a rule-maker. Nobody assigned me any rules to follow, but when there were guidelines I could latch on to, I loved to follow them. If there were no rules, I requested them. Mom and dad did not give me chores, so I suggested that my brother and I be assigned chores, and earn an allowance based on the work we did. Needless to say, my brother was not too thrilled about this set-up and my parents thought it was amusing. The rest is history.
I actually enjoy setting goals and following through to accomplishment. Here's a little secret though: I can get very rigid and follow rules simply for the sake of meeting the demand or hitting the mark. As I say about myself, I like to deliver. This can leave me feeling empty when I am enslaved to the very rules that I created in the first place. What once was a pleasure has become my duty, and I feel bound to it for no other reason than, I said I would. Well guess what else I am? A rule breaker. A beater of my own drum. A rebel and an inventor. Every so often, when I feel responsible to out dated ideas, or after an extended period of work work work, I like to tear off the shackles, and break away from the "same old."
For years, I can marry myself to set of habits or guidelines, and in a moment I can cut loose and run like the wind, away from my former life. Or I can stop and drop into a stillness that allows the swirl around me to slow and I get very simple and clear. I am in a renewal period like this right now. So I have released a lot of what binds me to a persona that I have, or an idea that I have of myself in order to rediscover who I am today, and who I am becoming. This includes stopping the same physical movements that I have been habitually doing and moving in other ways. Dance is the movement of choice for my break-away moment. Moving away from the same rigid and practiced asana into the more fluid and free form circular, and lateral movements of dance has been freeing and renewing. I have been unplugging from hot yoga practice, which I got into a habit of doing over the past year, and immersing myself into the elements by hiking in nature and taking my deep breaths there.
The point is: do something different!
If there is a lack of luster, or if you've lost the pep in your step, perhaps you need to break your own rules. What new movements can you make in order to embody a new aspect of yourself? What rituals and habits have lost their momentum? What new treasures can you find from within?
Have a beautiful and re-creative week!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A NEW ADVENTURE AWAITS: FIND YOUR SACRED SPACE
Happy 2015! I don't know if you are feeling it, but I can sense the new adventure that is before me this year. There have been many twists and turns over the last couple of years, but this new energy feels different. I have landed squarely in my new “asana” and am claiming it. Simplicity is the key to my clarity. First and foremost: a call to healthy habits, and paring down whatever is not necessary. Certain friends, habits, foods and tasks have been pruned from my daily life. I am finding solace in the solitude. Once I mellowed from the missing, I was left with what is essential. And so I sit to write the next chapter. Join me, if you like. I have several events that are open to all. The first will be online. On March 25th,we will take a 28-day journey together on Diet Bets. This four week challenge, although result oriented, is actually an opportunity to come together as I support you through your short term diet goals. Suggested food plan, would be one of the three options in your Yogalosophy book, but you can choose to commit to any food plan suits you. I will provide daily coaching and inspiration, along with exercises, journal questions and healthy tips like the ones below. In August, you may join me in person for a weekend workshop at the Omega Institute. Vision Boards, Yogalosophy and more in the oasis of the prestigious Omega retreat center.

Healthy habits are the cornerstone of all that you are looking to create in the world. Create your daily check-list and make your routine a no brainer. 

Some ideas:
  Begin the day with warm water and half a lemon to cleanse and get your system going.
  Incorporate probiotics to aid digestion.
  Meditate in the morning for 15 minutes.
  Write your thoughts, or gratitude list before you begin your day.
  Move your body 5 days a week: walk, yoga, hike, or a brand new class.
  Finish your day with 2 ounces apple cider vinegar, 2 ounces of Aloe juice diluted in water.
  Dry brush your body before bed.

   Make a loving connection with a living being each day.

Monday, January 5, 2015

One Small Step For A Great Lifestyle Change


When asked what small, simple step a woman could take to make lifestyle changes, I envisioned a woman who pleases herself. As women, we are in an ongoing dance of pleasing others through our multitude of relationships and roles we play. In some sense, equality has amounted to women over-doing. Not only are we now raised to support ourselves, but are expected to juggle family, beauty, health, whilst maintaining a serene attitude conquering the world and the work place, with just the right sense of humor, surrounded by our tribe of equally fabulous women. All this, plus, oh yeah, finding ways to be in some version of an evolved relationship.



As I move through my life, I find myself more frequently asking, am I doing this for me? Who is this for? Is this a desire coming from within, or an expectation I am living up to? The answer to this question is so faint, that the place where I find it is in the quiet stillness of my heart. The absolute best way for me to hear that truth is through meditation. Meditation can sound daunting, but let me make this accessible to you. Sitting in stillness and observing the present moment, which does include the nature of the “monkey mind”, is just another muscle. As going to the gym and engaging new muscles is, at first, a challenge, when the magic of repetition forms a new daily habit, like brushing your teeth, sitting and becoming present as you focus on your breath is simply a trip to the inner gym. Your meditation muscles will strengthen and you will soon go from 5 minutes being a struggle, to sitting for 20 minutes, or even an hour.



Following the call of your inner truth allows you to be an activist for all women. Taking time to connect with your inner compass is a lifestyle change I recommend, and I plan on following in 2015. That, and drinking more water.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Yoga Tricks and Other (Re)Treats

Happy Halloween! October has been a month of intensity. With the piercing darkness of last week's eclipse–our initiation into the dark side of the moon–we have been thrust into a time of transformation. Yoga can push you past the comfort zone of your form, but so can pulling inward and being still, or retreating. I have the tendency to keep myself light and spin my tale in the direction of the positive. However, this a the time where there is more value for me to go toward the unknown, the mystical, the depth and what is taboo and dark. Where there is darkness, there is the most opportunity for illumination. Even the flicker of a candle can light an entire room. You may find there is no boogey man at all. The fear was just a trick!
I still cannot figure out if Teen Witch is the ultimate trick or treat. The funny thing is, when I made this movie, back in 1988 there was no internet and I was positive that nobody would ever see it. Boy was I wrong. This movie became a cult classic, and thank goodness that my willingness to transcend my beliefs allows me to happily share this treat with you, rather then retreat! The trick is, to never take yourself too seriously. Or, as Ram Dass says: remember that everyone you encounter is just God in drag. And with that I leave you! My top three yoga tricks:
               To approach CROW pose, try perching upon a yoga brick to get your knees high upon the triceps.
               Challenge your FOREARM PLANK pose by maintaining the forearms in a parallel position, but flip your palms upward to engage the core deeply.
               HALF HANDSTAND starts in downward dog, with your heels facing the baseboard where it meets the wall. Walk your legs up the wall in an L shape.
My top three healthy treats:
               Kevita Probiotic drink is what I go for instead of a soda.
               Raw Chocolate is tasty and guilt free. Made without dairy or sugar, there are no apologies!
               Freeze dried Mango is tart and tasty. 

Lastly: Retreat. This is how I do. In honor of Day of the Dead.

CORPSE POSE


Lay flat on your back, push your shoulders down away from your ears, and flip your palms skyward. Allow your feet to flop open to the side. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale release your breath, and let gravity sink you down into the mat, as if your body could make an imprint in the floor. Die to the world for 5 or 10 minutes before you return, refreshed.

The day of the dead is a celebration and an honoring of the spirits that came before us, as well as a release of what is no longer alive within us. Release and let go. Transform the depths of your sorrow into a revelation. Use your excess energy to try high intensity cardio vascular workouts like spinning, or push your limits to finally master crow pose, king pigeon, or handstand.

Whatever you do, do not fear the candy. Top That! 






Monday, October 20, 2014

The Buddy System

I consider myself a "yoga buddy". After all, there is nothing particularly earth shattering or groundbreaking that I am doing with Kate Beckinsale, other than showing up, being a listening ear, and lending a helping hand. You can be that for someone too, as well as ask a buddy to be that for you. Life is all about relationships. Relationships with humans, with our bodies, with ideas, and so forth. In a way, the word "yoga" means "relationship". Yoga is the union and relatedness of  two opposing forces. Light and dark, masculine and feminine, strength and vulnerability. It is a constant dance of opposites emoted in the physical form.What better way to explore this dance than finding your body in relationship to another being's experience of the body?

I employed the help of my friend, and sometimes assistant, Lauren. In reality, we needed a third entity to capture the following photos. Let's call the third entity: neutral. Positive, negative, and neutral. (Luckily, good old Apple Mac Air was there to capture our posturing. Big brother lending a helping hand and a watchful eye – one of technology's most useful aspects.) Big Brother and I have an interesting relationship in my own mind...but that's another blog post for another time... Bottom line: getting into these postures within a 5 second timer was by far, the most challenging aspect of these shots. If you are trying this at home, all you need is a buddy, the willingness to explore, and a sense of humor. 

1. Seated Twist
  • Begin in a seated cross legged position, facing one another. Smile at your partner  for a moment. 
  • Take a deep breath and extend your breast bone away from the sacrum, as each buddy twists to the right while reaching the right arm behind your back to hold your partners left hand. 
  • Just as you would in a regular twist, take an inhale to lengthen your spine, and exhale twist and wring out your spine. After 3-5 breaths, unwind and repeat on side 2. Twists are intense and detoxify the body, so this should be done after a warm up. Rest in savasana beside each other afterwards. 

 2. Two Chairs

  •  Stand back to back and link elbows.
  • Press against your partner's back and walk your feet forward, while keeping the sacrum and spine touching each other until you are in a 90 degree seated position.
  • Hold for 5 breaths and feel the dynamic energy when you are pressing against the other and breathing. 

3. Assisted Butterfly or Cobbler Pose

  • One person sits with a straight spine and soles of the feet together, while the knees fan open.
  • Inhale, and while gripping the feet, lengthen the spine and fold forward.
  • After several breaths, the assistant may gently press on the inner thighs.
  • Maintain communication to make sure the assisted feels in control of the pressure. 
  • Release and switch partners. Give and receive.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Living In the "I Don't Know"....

When I was a girl, I had to be savvy. My parents were young (mom was 20, dad 23), and I was the first born. Sometimes I'd call myself "the experiment". Since mom and dad were children themselves,  I felt that I needed to have it together and know all the answers. Soon, my precocious maturity was praised by, and even entertained the adults. I was now expected to "know". At least that's how I felt.

I will never forget this one bus ride I took with my friend Melinda Morgan. We may have been in the first or second grade. The cut off shorts, which were long enough to be a skirt...were, I thought, called culottes. That's what my mother told me. On the day I wore this apparel, I heard Melinda use an alternate word: gauchos. After hearing this word several times, and finally from a pretty close friend, whom I thought I could trust, I had to find out the answer. I remember working up the courage to blurt out, under my breath, "what are gauchos?" Only Melinda didn't hear me. That was as far as it went, but even speaking it aloud was progress for me. I do not like to not know.

Imagine my frustration when confronted with open ended questions, or something called: process. The idea that I don't know the answer to the question of my own future can cause me to feel anxious. How will I approach writing my next book? Will I ever fall in love with someone I can settle into? How does my story end? Being in a state of staying open and teachable requires presence in the moment, and delight in the discovery. How do I get curious about and live my own process, without the anxiety?

Yoga provides me with an analogous space. I make progress on my mat when I approach my process with an open mind. This is why I love to take class from a variety of teachers. Each person has a slightly different take or experience, and when shared, it might strike a new revelation in my perception. Recently, I had the opportunity to take class with one of my old teachers from the mid-eighties. Baron Baptiste was a teacher I found in my teens. Although yoga had been a household activity, I found Baron when I was a gym rat, on my own terms. His approach resonated with me, and he was not much older than I. I was taken with his lazy LA accent, and his investigative approach. Little did I know that one day, he and I would be peers. His success as an instructor was foundational for many, and I had no designs on becoming a household name myself. Had I "known" the end to the story, perhaps I would have been far less teachable. Last year when I attended his class, I was tempted to explore something I have not tried in a long while: inversions. Due to several herniations in my spine, I choose not to go upside down because I know that it creates compression in the spine. This class, which I took in Hawaii, felt safe to me. Why not start from scratch and play like a child? I hadn't had any back issues for years! So I did. I played with going upside down, and finding my balance as I had in my youth. I did not know that my body would be able to deeply explore in the positions. It was not planned, or an aspiration, but became possible solely by curiosity. I felt such joy playing in the arena of the unknown, that this joy outweighed any wisdom I thought I'd have from the experience. I am so glad I did. Perhaps the key to living in the "I don't know," is to stay curious like a child. To live with a sense of wonderment.

Each day is new. We cannot say what will arrive in the next hour, moment, or breath. The only truth for me is " I don't know". In an effort to control or plan for the future, I may pretend that I have it all figured out, or that I am the one making the plans. One thing is for sure, no matter which decisions I make, God or the unifying force that connects us all, is running the show. The best I can do is breathe, play, be open, and teachable. This is living!