Monday, February 25, 2013

Intuitive Eating

Your body has a wisdom and a sense of what it needs. When I follow my needs rather than a strict regimen of shoulds and shouldn'ts, dos and don'ts, I am less likely to overindulge or rebel. I know that most people are looking for the definitive answer: the diet that works for everyone.

There is no "one size fits all" program. Sure, there are guidelines, like eating organic fresh vegetables daily or avoiding processed foods. These both work as a general rule, but putting everyone on the same program just isn't realistic or effective. Each one of us has a different body chemistry, history, and conditioning. I personally have a history of eating disorders that began when I was a child and became overly focused on what was right and wrong. When I was about ten, my parents introduced a strict macrobiotic diet to the family. My very focused (obsessive) mind took this and ran with it. If cutting out certain foods was "good", then maybe cutting out more and more foods would be "better". After many years of restriction, the pendulum swung the other way, to the point that I was eating marshmallows for dinner. It took me some time to unwind and find the happy medium.

Today I prefer the idea of shifting the focus from dos and don'ts to choosing some version of mindful restriction that works for the individual. The primary benefit of a restrictive diet is that is requires conscious choice. I tend to say to people, just choose a way of eating and stay with it for several weeks. The cycle that yo-yo dieters tend to get mired in is the punishment/reward syndrome. When I eat BLANK I am good, and when I go off of that it's BAD.

What you feel, say, and sense when you feed yourself is equally important to what it is that you consume. In fact, when you consider what your body truly needs, you may be able to indulge in delicious foods that are treats in moderation. I personally allow myself a treat daily. It may be chocolate or some form of ice cream. When I allow myself small indulgences, I satisfy my craving and I do not over indulge. I recently stopped drinking coffee, not permanently, but I stopped needing it. This was a real listening to myself as I have been "on again" with coffee. How often do we simply get stuck in a rut of what we have been doing rather that what we really want or need?

At this moment, there is a lot of Pisces energy in the stars, making discipline a greater challenge. Drinking, overindulgence, sweets are tendencies...and restriction may be harder to come by. However, there are ways to offset that energy, for example: get better sleep. Sleep can help to curb our cravings, as we may be tired and craving sugar to bring the energy up. Or painting may satisfy our inner artist instead of boozing. Dance can be a form of rebellion and breaking free into expression. Before you pick up the habit, go over the check list and see if you can satisfy and indulge in a different way. How about ducking into a movie theatre and treating yourself to 2 hours out of your day rather than diving into a pint of ice cream. 
Remember, it's delicious to go with the flow, and when we bring consciousness to the fore, we can enjoy and indulge in a much fuller way. 

Monday, February 18, 2013


You are a drop of water in the vast sea of humanity...This analogy makes it so easy to understand the concept of interconnectedness. (Inner connectedness.) The atoms and molecules that make up your body have been around for eternity in various forms, and will be around long after you have passed. It is beyond a mirror...We are one.

No matter what country you are in, we look up at the same moon in the sky from different vantage points. Along the same lines, the effects of one person's actions have an effect on so many others they have never seen. This makes each being very important and insignificant all at once. What you do has a direct effect upon me.

I have always had the desire to merge with the All, yet the have the fear of losing myself completely into it. This feeling of being joyfully submerged appears when I am immersed in the dream state, meditation, and sometimes an awesome yoga practice or spinning class. Immersion is the closest I get to being present in a body and disappearing into the void simultaneously. At other times, I absorb the undefinable feelings into my body. Thinking, perhaps that I am tired...I remember that I am like a sponge, and could be picking up on many things surrounding me.

Escape is one expression of the undefinable. Sometimes escape can be creative. An escape artist. The above painting was painted when I needed to get away, and it was an expression of a feeling I was having at the time. This coincided with the end of a relationship. I did not know it then. But see the meditating pregnant woman, about to birth something, yet the head hangs down. She sits before the darkness and the unknown. Yet Spring is near.

Endings and beginnings. Endings and beginnings. It seems that life just cycles this way. Winter becomes Spring.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Have My Heart On! Love Your Body

We want it. We give it. We receive it. We long for it, yearn for it, miss it, embody it.

Universal Love
Unconditional Love
Unrequited Love
Romantic Love
Brotherly Love
Spiritual Love

We love love! One thing we can all agree on: love is a driving force for one and all. Certainly the one day that we devote to love, Valentine's Day, cannot live up to all of that. One thing we can do is provide it for ourselves.

My main relationship in my life has been my body. It's been with me through all of the ups and downs. The career changes, the love affairs, the trying times, and the peak moments. Every day I wake up and there she is. My greatest gift. I have played this relationship with my body in many ways. I have been hard on her, demanding perfection. I have ignored her and put her last on the priority list. I have compared her to others and tried to whip her into shape, I have wished she was different, and I have indulged her. I have honored, elevated, adored and been gentle with her. She's gone through adolescence, has been beaten, loved, and has been a real money maker for me. My body gets me where I need to go. Pulls the life force energy through herself. She digests, ingests, and is an absolute miracle. As the years have gone on, I have learned to treat this body with the care and respect she deserves. She knows better than I do. When work was too much, she put me on my back. When I didn't see love, she pulled me in that direction. I heart my body! I had the opportunity to work with the Body Heart project (see above photo), which empowers women through loving the body AS IS. And that is what I encourage you to do this Heart Day.

Ways to pamper:
Partner Yoga
Self Massage
Supported Bridge Pose (below)

Come to your back, legs bent and feet hip-width apart. Start with your arms by your sides. Bring your heels up to your tush. Make sure your feet are straight and parallel. Take a deep inhale. On the exhale, pull the belly in and tuck your pelvis under, keep peeling your spine off of the floor, one vertebrae at a time. Push the feet down in order to lift the hips up. Keep your chin tucked. Place a block underneath your sacrum and allow it to support you.

Enjoy, and remember, your self-love is contagious, so spread it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Reinvent Yourself

"We have to be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down."
― Kurt Vonnegut

"It is in the not-knowing that I am freed of all my limitations."
― Me

I had the opportunity to be in a conversation with a wise woman this evening. She asked me what I did, and I replied, "Well, I don't really know. I feel like I am on a journey of constantly redefining myself and finding my way along the path. I feel that by the time I am an authority on anything, I have moved on to break free and find the next thing." She told me that she thought that was a very good place to be. "I hope so!" I replied. 

Having grown up in a home that was emotionally unpredictable, I developed two habits. The first was a reaction to my home life: Try to get grounded and decide who you are by making strict rules that you have control over. The second feels almost genetically programmed: Break the mold and reinvent yourself. Become the chaos. Be the change!

The lack of safety that I felt as a little girl with risk-taking and emotionally turbulent parents lead me to a most unnatural set of "shoulds". As many of my dear friends say: "Don't should on yourself." Currently, I am methodically shedding the layers, traveling backwards in time, reliving and revisiting my history to experience my circumstance from a new vantage point. This idea that I am an authority figure on yoga is surprising to me, because this is a practice that was handed to me as a child and now has me working in reverse. Since yoga and fitness was the family "religion", I feel myself moving backwards in time to reckon with it in a new way, and hopefully reinvent myself entirely. I hope to continue this trend of traveling backwards until I trade in my yoga mat for a set of paints and imaginary games. All the way back to simply being excited to see a butterfly.

The image of the butterfly is a perfect one for me. The caterpillar going into hiding in the cocoon for a while looks nothing like the ethereal butterfly it will become. Be the change! I remain open-hearted and open-minded. I do not know the outcome of my natural state of being in the "I don't know." I may wake up one day and notice that my body feels like inverting, and my retreat from headstand could come to an end.

I am getting more comfortable being in the space of not knowing. I did not know what would happen when I stopped teaching for a boss. I did not know if I would be successful with one-on-one students. I did not know how to author a book. I did not know how to do any of this. And I do not know what comes next.

What I am beginning to see is that what once made me feel unsafe: risk-taking and emotional turbulence, today gets me exited to watch my wings grow on my way down. Today I am excited to reinvent myself, because I don't really know who I am.

Ah to be free.