Thursday, July 31, 2008

a day at the spa

Tomorrow my husband and I are going to Spa Shiki to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. We will both be getting swedish massages. I haven't had a massage in months, and I'm very excited about it! After getting a massage, my body feels like it does after a yoga class, but I don't have to do nearly the work to feel that way.

It's definitely hard to believe that we've been married 3 years. The time has flown by. At one of my wedding showers, the guests wrote their words of marriage wisdom for me in a journal. I'd thought I'd share some of their thoughts on the art of relationships with you:
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate! It's essential.
  • Compliment each other often.

  • Take time for yourself.

  • Be at least as polite to each other as you would be to a stranger.

  • Learn to let the "little" things go...or else you may go crazy!

  • Remember that love is a verb! Show love through your actions.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

home sweet home

This is one of my favorite spots--and it's right outside my back door. I definitely believe it is so important to create a space to live in that makes you feel peaceful, alive, and well.

The energy you have becomes a part of the environment and the environment's energy also influences you. From the colors you choose to paint the walls to the arrangement of the furniture to what you choose to fill your space--it all has an impact on how you feel.

Yesterday I spent 5 hours painting my bathroom--I also painted the day before, but didn't end up liking the colors. They looked great on the color sample, but once on the walls they were way too bright. After my 3rd color choice, I got it right! So the bathroom went from an olive green to a beautiful turquoise. When I walk into the room, I feel like I'm walking right into the ocean. Paint is a cheap (unless you have to purchase 3 separate gallons to get the color right) way to change the entire look and feel of a room.

I also recommend getting rid of clutter. When your space is cluttered, your mind is cluttered. This summer I spent some time cleaning out closets and organizing. It really is amazing how much lighter I feel now that those projects are complete and the house is better organized.

My last recommendation is about purchases for your home (this can also apply to any type of purchase)--when you are thinking about buying something ask yourself, "Is this something I love? Does it speak to me?" If you answer no to either question, don't make the purchase. You don't want to fill your space with stuff that doesn't make you feel more alive and well.

Is your home a reflection of who you are? If not, you may not feel "at home" in your home.

Here is your yoga thought for the day:

"It's nice to return home each day to something intensely personal."--Stanley Borrows


Monday, July 28, 2008

girls' weekend getaway

This past weekend I had a wonderful time visiting with 4 of my friends from high school. I had definitely been craving some girlfriend time, and that was exactly what I needed. We simply hung out, ate (a lot), and talked getting caught up on all the wonderful things happening in our lives. We also decided we would make it an annual event--which I'm very excited about! If you're craving a little girl-time, I would encourage you to make the move and set up a date.

On the ride home, I was listening to a podcast of Oprah and Eckhart Tolle's class on book The New Earth. Eckhart made an interesting comment about our tendancy to fill our minds with negative self-talk. He said something to the effect of: If we had a relationship with someone who said all of the negative things we say to ourselves, we would end the relationship. The truth of this statement really resonated with me. It's an interesting way to think about the way we talk to ourselves. Next time we find ourselves thinking negatively about ourselves (which is the first step--awareness), perhaps we could ask ourselves if we would tolerate someone else saying this to us, and if not, we should definitely work to let the thought go.

Here is the yoga-thought/positive self-statement for the day:

I am willing to let others know who I am.


Friday, July 25, 2008

feeling exhausted

I just got home from St. Louis and taking my 2nd ever Bikram Yoga class. While the experience was overall positive, I do feel like I need to add a little bit of information about Bikram Yoga--as I definitely would want anyone who is interested in trying it to have a clear picture of what they will be experiencing--(please keep in mind this is all based on my opinion):

1. You should only take a Bikram class if you're very familiar with yoga asanas (postures)--Bikram IS NOT a class for beginner yogis.
2. You should be prepared for a very strict, rigid yoga practice--Bikram is a very structured style. The first time I took the class in Denver the instructor was informative and to the point; however, this time the instructor was a bit more like a drill sergeant (a nice one with a bit of a sense of humor, though).
3. You should be prepared to feel very cleansed, yet incredibly exhausted after class is over. (It's 8:30 p.m., and I'm ready for bed. Typically after power yoga classes, I feel very relaxed, yet energized and ready to go).

Here is a bit more about my experience today:

When I arrived at the yoga studio, I checked in and the instructor was very friendly and clear about the expectations and structure of his class. He told me I should position myself in the back of the class because the more experienced students would be in the front, so he could put more "pressure" on them. (From my experiences in other yoga classes "pressure" is NOT something most yoga instructors would want their students to feel. Challenged-yes. Pressure-no.) He told me I was free to come out of a pose and be still at any time, but there were NO modifications. (I was thankful to be told I was allowed to rest, but once again the idea of no modifications is not the norm in most yoga classes). I was told that once in the yoga room I was not allowed to leave unless there was an emergency--his definition of an emergency being if I was vomiting, bleeding, or my head had fallen off (yes, he said this.)

During class he talked about an upcoming Bikram yoga competition. Competition? This is typically not a word used in conjunction with yoga!

So, it's really hard to desribe the actual experience of the class. Like I said earlier, it was positive, but in a very backward sort of way. The final words of the instructor when ending the class sort of sums it all up. He said (while we were just getting into the final relaxation posture, savasana): "How's it feel to experience a kick-ass class? To be beaten down until you're forced to surrender? I have no final words of wisdom, just enjoy your evening." And that was that.

He was right. I definitely was forced to surrender during class. In a way, it felt very good. However, I would say rather than being beaten down to the point of surrender, I would rather learn to surrender through my own internal guidance. Bikram does not seem to teach the participants to listen to their bodies or their internal voice.

So, what is my internal voice telling me about Bikram Yoga? It is an interesting experience. I do think at some point in my future I will attend another class; however, I so appreciate power yoga and yoga styles that contain flowing sequences, encouragement of accepting oneself, surrender (without being beaten down), and being encouraged to listen to one's own body and inner wisdom.

My inner wisdom is telling me I need to go to bed, and I think I'm going to listen. Good night.


feeling hot

Today I am off to the big St. Louis to take a Bikram Yoga class. I'm very excited about it! The last time I took a Bikram class was years ago in Denver. While I definitely prefer flowing styles of yoga over Bikram, I think it's good to mix it up every once and a while.
If you're wondering what Bikram is, it is a form of yoga (developed by a man named Bikram Choudhury) that is done in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees...yeah, HOT! You sweat just standing there. However, you don't just stand there. You do a sequence of 26 postures two times in a row. The classes are 90 minutes long, and they are all exactly the same. So no matter where you are in the country, if you go to two Bikram classes, they will be alike. If you ever get a chance to try it, definitely do. It's a very challenging, cleansing experience!

Here is your yoga thought for the day:

Do one thing a day that scares you.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

saying yes to life

It has just been in the last 5 years that I have started to learn to say no. I am still working on learning to say no without guilt. This, I believe, is something somewhat specific to being female--and more specifically, a female people-pleaser. It is important to be able to say no to certain requests, so one doesn't feel overextended and exhausted or like she is participating in activites that aren't reflective of her values and interests. It is a matter of time and energy management, period.

I also believe it is important to learn to say no in order to free up more time and energy for saying, "yes" to those activities that are important. Next time you are asked to do something or take on an additional task that you would only be saying, "yes" to out of feelings of obligation, guilt, or a need to please, try saying, "No." You don't even have to give an explanation (this, I'm definitely still working on)--You can simply say, "At this time, I have to say no." Then, make sure after you succeed in saying no, you let go of any feelings of guilt, and you find something that you feel passionate about or have always wanted to do, and say a big YES to it!

Your yoga thought for today:

Practice saying YES to your life.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

all about balance

Here is the yoga thought for the day from Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston:

"Nourished people, people who love and care for themselves, are also more efficient and nicer to be around. When you give yourself permission to relax, people will feel more relaxed around you, your environment will become more harmonious. Balance--between work and pleasure, giving and receiving, seriousness and levity--creates a happy, healthy life."

Here are some ways I nourish myself and try to create some balance:

  • practicing yoga
  • reading

  • writing in my journal

  • being creative

  • petting my pups and cats

  • breathing deeper

  • listening to personal growth podcasts

  • blogging

  • taking hot baths in the winter

  • hanging out at Barnes and Noble

  • walking the dogs
If self-care isn't on your priority list, perhaps it would be a good thing to add! Enjoy your day.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

feeling sweaty

I just got home from going on a very short run with my husband and then a longer walk with my dogs, and boy, is it hot out there already. I do have to say, feeling sweaty from physical exertion is a really great, cleansing feeling. I can almost feel the toxins fleeing from my body with each drip! I am already looking forward to teaching a yoga class this afternoon and sweating out more of those little toxins then. With this being said, a few posts ago I wrote some tips for beginning yogis. I didn't mention that when you practice yoga it is much, much safer to be in a warm to hot environment. If you are practicing in a cold, air-conditioned room, beware: It is not safe to stretch your muscles when they are cold. That is one of the reasons I love power yoga--you flow at the beginning of the class to get your muscles nice and warm before slowing down and stretching them. With that being said, if you do end up in a cold room trying to do yoga, dress in layers to keep your body heated!

Here is your yoga thought for the day from Kathy Freston's book Quantum Wellness:

"Just as important as getting to our core emotions is the work of quieting our minds so we can hear what our soul is trying to tell us. Our minds can cause all kinds of chaos and confusion in our bodies and threaten our sense of equanimity and peace. That's because the mind is constantly at work processing past events and setting us up for what happens next. It is full to bursting with preconceptions, anxieties, and old agendas that we might not even be aware of. It's time to get quiet and find out. By clearing out all that mental clutter, we can finally hear what really matters to us. And set our lives going in that direction."


Friday, July 18, 2008

new phone, new name

As you probably noticed, I have changed the name of my blog. I have made this change for multiple reasons. First, I've never quite embraced the "yogagal" title. Truly, I just don't feel very gal-ish. Second, I decided to splurge and purchase the new iphone. (I've always paid $29.99 or less for my phones, so this is a very exciting experience for me!) With the purchase of the new phone, I decided to set up a new, more convenient e-mail address. I was sitting at Barnes and Noble brainstorming my new e-mail address, and looked over at the godiva chocolate display. From godiva, I started thinking about the word Diva--which I definitely feel like with my new purchase. Hence: Yogadiva's Divine Life.

Of course, this title has a deeper meaning to me. I do feel like I have a divine life. I also feel like a bit of a Diva much of the time, and have definitely felt the struggle between the two...Can you live a peaceful, simple, divine life and still be a Diva? My answer is ABSOLUTELY! I'm sure some yogis would have a bit to say about practicing yoga and embracing yoga philosophy while also loving iphones, cute bags, and lipstick, and what I would say to them is:

I am learning to love and accept myself as I am (Diva and all), while also honoring and respecting exactly how others are and choose to be.

And with that--


yoga's not just for girls

A few weekends ago, we had a friend we hadn't seen for a while over for dinner. While talking with him about what I had been doing this summer, the topic of yoga came up. He said that he used to think yoga was for girls, until he actually attended a yoga class. He was very surprised how challenging it was. He also said he was surprised by the almost euphoric feelings he had after the class was over. It was really nice to hear him talking this way about yoga. I am always disappointed when I hear people talk about having negative experiences in a yoga class. Sometimes after one bad experience, I know the person will probably never give it a try again.

Here are my top 10 tips, if you're going to give yoga a try (and you definitely should):

1. Make sure you find an experienced instructor that comes highly recommended by someone who has taken a class from him or her.
2. Try to find a yoga class that best suits your needs--there are many different types and styles of yoga, from very relaxing, restorative, healing yoga to very athletic style classes.
3. Show up early for class, and introduce yourself to the instructor before class begins, letting him or her know you are new to practicing yoga.
4. Keep in mind that this is a brand new experience for you--allow yourself to rest when needed, and even sit and watch for a while--it's hard to do the poses and see what they are supposed to look like at the same time.
5. Know you are supposed to feel challenged, yet relaxed (the relaxed part is key here for beginners!) Absolutely no position should cause sharp, acute pain--if it hurts, gently come out of the pose. It is natural, especially at the beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable, since you are in positions you're body isn't used to, but it definitely shouldn't hurt.
6. Let go of all expectations and judgements about yourself--fully embrace and accept yourself just as you are. (I know this is harder said than done, but with regular yoga practice it is amazing how you can begin to accept yourself as you are knowing you're growing in your journey).
7. Remember that deep, full, conscious breathing is just as important as the positions themselves. Never sacrifice breath for posture.
8. Allow yourself as much as possible to experience the class through sensation--let your body guide you, and if you aren't used to listening to your body, with regular practice you will be amazed at how much our bodies can teach us when we listen.
9. Use the modifications!--If the instructor does not give multiple options for almost all of the positions, it's probably better to find an instructor who does.
10. Before you decide yoga is not for you, make sure to find an instructor and style of class that works best for you, and then practice regularly for a minimum of a month. At that point, you'll start to really be able to relax more and seep in all the positive benefits of a regular practice.

Ending the class in Namaste': Traditionally, yoga classes are ended by the instructor saying "Namaste'" and the participants repeating it back to the instructor. Namaste' is a sanskrit term that is loosely translated to, "The divine in me bows to and recognizes the divine in you."

Lastly, if you attend a yoga class that is all physical without any heart and soul, please know that a huge piece of the practice will be missing. If you aren't really concerned about the "soul" aspect of yoga, by all means, continue your practice. However, if you're wanting a class that offers more than just the physical, keep looking until you find it. Know that yoga can truly change and transform how you approach your life and daily interactions.

Yoga thought for the day:
"You are pure potential." --Maat

And--Yoga is NOT just for girls!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

welcome home

A few weeks ago, Oprah had Jon Kabat-Zinn on her Soulseries on XM radio. I just finished up listening to the interview last night, and I was definitely inspired by his thoughts on living mindfully.

After hearing the interview, I started doing some research, and found a transcript on-line from another interview he did with Rachel Kohn from ABC radio national. Here are is a bit of Kabat-Zinn's thoughts about spirituality that I'd like to share:

"In the last chapter of my second book, which is called Wherever You Go There You Are actually addressed this. In there, I ask the question, Well let's say is having a baby spiritual? Is washing the dishes spiritual? Is making love spiritual? Is seeing a sunset spiritual? I mean what isn't spiritual if you're present for it, if you show up for it? Is comforting a crying child spiritual? See my point is that everything is potentially a profoundly moving and illuminating experience if you show up for it with a clear mind and an open heart. And if you don't, then you're turning spirituality into some other materialist thing, which is a measure of your ego's desire to look a certain way..."
And, here is a bit on mindfulness...

"A taste of mindfulness. Have you ever had the experience of stopping so completely, of being in your body so completely, of being in your life so completely? That what you knew and what you didn't know, and what had been and what was yet to come, and the way things are right now, no longer held even the slightest hint of anxiety of discord?
A moment of complete presence beyond striving, beyond mere acceptance, beyond the desire to escape or fix anything, or plunge ahead. A moment of pure being, no longer in time, a moment of pure seeing, pure feeling, a moment in which life simply is. And that is-ness grabs you by all your senses and all your memories, by your very genes, by your loves, and welcomes you home. "


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

positive self statements

In working with students who have mental health issues, it is apparent that most of them have very low self-esteem and spend a great deal of their time thinking poorly about themselves--and much of the time their negative thoughts are completely irrational. I would say that this is something some adults may struggle with, too.

I've written quite a bit about the importance of positive self-talk to maintaining good mental health. The first step is to become aware of the negative mental tape recorder we might have playing in our heads. Then, we must stop the tape, and create a new, more positive one.

Here are some positive self statements that you can use (pick and choose the ones you most need at this point in your life, and if you are really struggling, it is also helpful to write them down on a daily basis):
  • I have the power to control my health and wellness.
  • I am always connected to the Divine Spirit in the Universe.
  • I trust my inner being in partnership with Spirit to lead me in the right path.
  • I attract only healthy relationships.
  • I am willing and open to receive blessings daily.
  • I am rewarded for all the work I do.
  • I am open to learning from others.
  • I am passionate and able to create a life that reflects my values.
  • I am joy-filled and fun to be with.
  • I think big and allow myself to accept even more good in my life.
Love your self, love your life.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

coffee love

Early mornings are definitely my favorite time of day. (I've always said, if parties were in the morning rather than at night, I'd be the life of the bash!) I love the stillness, the dew on the grass, the cool morning air, opening all the windows, and lastly, and most importantly, my cup of morning brew--with sugar and soy milk, of course.

I will admit, my husband has turned me into a coffee snob. I used to tease him about being one and now I have joined him. I can only drink coffee that is dark, smooth, and very rich. In fact, we've started making our coffee in the morning with a french press because it is so much smoother and richer. (If you've never tried french press coffee, I highly recommend it! Make sure to stir up the grounds and the water and let it sit for a minimum of 10 minutes, though!)

So, the point of this post? Enjoy and be thankful for the little things in life...make them into big deals! Here are a few other "little things" that I love about my life:

  • my husband
  • my puppies snuggling up to me on the couch
  • all things smelling good--candles, lampe burger, oil burners
  • my backyard, patio, and deck
  • fresh cut flowers from my front yard in a vase on my kitchen table
  • my yoga practice
  • listening to music playing on my ipod
  • reading other peoples' blogs
  • laying by the pool with a great book
  • spending time with friends and family

What's on your list?

Here's your yoga thought for the day:

"Living with a spirit of gratitude, being constantly grateful for all the blessings in your life--both big and small--is the secret to a full and beautiful existance. The moment one starts comparing her life with others, she can fall into the trap of feeling less than, like a victim, or like something is lacking. It is not until we can all see and focus contently on the true abundance in our lives that inner peace will exist. Be grateful." --Yogagal original



Thursday, July 10, 2008


Here is a great quote from Cheryl Richardson's book Live Makeovers:

"Experience has taught me that when we treat ourselves like cherished souls, a divine force supports our efforts. Because I've witnessed this phenomenon so many times while working with clients (and in my own life), I've come to expect it as a natural part of the journey. When you take steps to honor your Self, like starting a journal, asking for a well-deserved raise, or saying no to unwanted demands on your time, you'll set in motion a higher order for your life. And the best part of all is that you don't have to believe in the magic of grace to reap the rewards. Just take good care of yourself and wait for the miracles" (pg. 39).

Yoga thought for the day:

"Seekers are offered clues all the time from the world of the spirit. Ordinary people call these clues coincidences." --Deepak Chopra


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

my vision board

Here is what I spent some time creating today:

A few posts ago, I took some information on creating vision boards from and posted it on my blog. This past spring break, I spent some time creating a small vision board of my own. However, after reading more about vision boards, I decided to take my little vision and incorporate it into a bigger, more creative one. If you look in the center of the second photo, you can see my spring break vision board which I've incorporated into this one. So today, I purchased a project board along with some gift wrapping paper that I liked and went to work.
Before I began, I did a values activity from Cheryl Richardson's book Stand Up for Your Life. This activity helped me focus in on 10 values that are important to me at this point in my life. You can see those on the front of the vision board in green. Then, from those 10, I chose my 4 essential values which I posted on the inside right flap. Along with the pictures and words in the middle of my vision board, which I cut from magazines, I also typed up my life mission and current vision statement. These are posted on the left side flap. On the right, I have my 4 Essential Values listed along with intentions for my daily life.
Once again, I cannot recommend creating your own vision board highly enough. It really helps you focus your attention and energy on creating the life you truly desire. By surrounding yourself with the words and visual images you would like to have in your life, you are able to create some space and invite in these feelings, things, and experiences. Then, very important to this whole process, you have to let go and trust life will rise up to meet you when you are ready.
If you want to create a vision board of your own, here are the supplies you'll need:
1. a board (this can be a piece of cardboard, a poster board, a project board--whatever you want
to use)
2. magazines (you could also print off pictures from the internet)
3. glue (I think rubber cement works the best)
4. scissors
5. candles lit and music that inspires you (these are optional, but they definitely work for me!)
That's it. Relax, just jump in, and have some fun. Enjoy spending some time focusing on yourself and co-creating the life you desire.
Here is your yoga thought for the day:
"You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true."
--Richard Bach

Friday, July 4, 2008

unleash your creativity

Yesterday I spent most of the day working on some art that I now have displayed in my bathroom. It was definitely a process of self-expression and creativity. Since I have more time and energy right now, I have really been able to to do some fun, creative projects. I do hope to be able to continue to express my creativity once I head back to work. I'm going to have to figure out how to better create some balance in my life that will allow me to do some creative projects in the evening or on weekends.

On another note, have a happy and safe 4th of July. Take a few moments in gratitude and recognize all the freedoms in your life. We are truly blessed.