Dear Lady

Dear Lady,

I know you aren’t just a Mom,

A daughter,

A sister,

Or a friend.

 

I know that, in the stolen moments of your life, you dream;

You write,

You dance,

And you sing.

 

You are not your job;

Or your title,

Or your role.

 

You are a creator;

An inventor,

An artist,

A muse.

 

You are not your weight on a scale;

or your face in the mirror.

You are not your money;

or your have and have-not’s.

 

You are life.

You are love.

You are energy.

 

You are a Goddess.

 

You’ve just been told the wrong story about who you are, by others who were told the wrong story about who they are.

 

Write a new story.

Start it now.

Start it with

I Am

blessings

Photo: www.mysticmamma.com

Integrated Wellness: Listen

Dear Reader: This blog post relates to lessons that are currently taking place as part of a course I’m teaching at Utah State University called Integrated Wellness. You are welcome to follow along and share any remarks or ask questions. I’d love to hear from you!

One of the most beautiful lessons learned through the yoga practice is how to listen. Stepping on the mat is an invitation to let go of everything and place your awareness on your body for a while. The practice of listening to the body not only offers the physical benefit of gaining greater balance in health and well-being; it teaches you how to trust and listen to your intuition.

There will be moments in your life when your instincts defy logic. You might find yourself in a battle between your heart and your mind; or between feeling and reality. When this happens, regardless of whether or not it makes sense, how crazy it seems, or whether or not your friends and family agree; you’ve got to trust your instincts. Even when the current reality of your situation doesn’t seem to support how you feel; you’ve got to go for it, because your feelings create your reality.

Learning to trust your intuition takes practice. It takes time to decipher between a genuine intuitive hunch versus a dead end idea, but the more you follow your own leads, the stronger you become at knowing the difference. Furthermore, keep in mind, that what may seem like a dead end idea, could simply be something that will come to fruition later on.

It’s important to realize that your heart already knows what is best for you. Every answer to every question you’ve ever had or ever will have, is already inside of you. The trick is in learning how to listen for those answers.

Go to your mat; listen to your body; listen to your breath; listen to your heart, and you’ll find that everything you seek is already in you.

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ART: IVAN MESTROVIC

Integrated Wellness: Your Life is Your Masterpiece

Dear Reader: This blog post relates to lessons that are currently taking place as part of a course I’m teaching at Utah State University called Integrated Wellness. You are welcome to follow along and share any remarks or ask questions. I’d love to hear from you!

The idea for today’s class came from the brilliant, beautiful, Glennon Doyle Melton. She wrote a piece titled Your Body is Not Your Masterpiece for Huffington Post and you gotta read it; go HERE for a hefty dose of inspiration.

Basically, she reminds us that your life is your masterpiece, and your body is the instrument that you use to create it. Your body is already perfect for what it is meant to do, which is to sculpt and craft and create the life of your dreams.

So how does that all fit in with Yoga?

Well, yoga helps you keep your instrument clean, fine tuned, and ready for creation. It helps to get rid of any built up tension, stress, worry, fear, and all the other junk that doesn’t serve you, so that you can use it the way it was meant to be used—as a tool for incredible creativity, deep connection, endless joy, and infinite love.

Furthermore, yoga keeps the body functioning in top form so that you can do the things you love to do for the rest of your life….dancing when you’re 83, or rock climbing when you’re 97!

It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that you need to change your body in order to be happy or fulfilled, but in reality, your body is already perfectly designed to bring you endless happiness as it helps you carry out your purpose in this life.

So rather than place your focus on how you wish your body were different, start focusing on how perfect it already is for the life you’re meant to manifest.

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Photo: Charlotte McKnight

Integrated Wellness: Why Practice Yoga?

Dear Reader: This blog post relates to lessons that are currently taking place as part of a course I’m teaching at Utah State University called Integrated Wellness. You are welcome to follow along and share any remarks or ask questions. I’d love to hear from you!

There are many different reasons for starting a yoga practice, and every single one is the perfect reason—because it got you started! Sometimes the reason for beginning something changes. As the practice or activity transforms, so does your reason for doing it.

This week the focus of class was on recognizing the way the physical, mental, emotional and energetic parts of ourselves relate and influence each other. Each one has an effect on the others—sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes in not so obvious ways. Some thoughts, emotions and experiences carry positive energy, which will help to open and heal the body, while others carry a negative energy, which can cause contraction and limitation in the body. For example; the experience of a stressful day filled with stressful thoughts and emotions will manifest in the physical body through sore muscles, fatigue, sickness, heaviness, or maybe just an uncomfortable feeling. On the other hand, a positive thought, emotion or experience will create high energy, vibrancy, joy, or a feeling of lightness and radiance.

Through a practice of awareness, you learn how to determine which thoughts, emotions and experiences have a positive effect, and which ones don’t. Then you can be selective about what is healthy for you—and if it isn’t, choose to avoid it or let it go.

One of the benefits of a yoga practice is to bring awareness to what serves you what doesn’t serve you, and to help release any negative manifestation that’s being held by the physical body. When you stretch and breathe space into the body, you’re not only moving and stretching the muscles—you’re also releasing the buildup of tension, stress, worry, fear, or whatever else you’ve been carrying around. When you build strength through proper alignment, you’re not only getting physically stronger; you’re building up a channel that helps efficiently move oxygen, blood flow, nutrients and energy through your body. Once you begin to release some of the unnecessary heaviness that you’ve been carrying around, you create more space for love, compassion, creativity, connection, and greater energy.

No matter what your reason is for practicing yoga, ultimately it embodies all the parts of yourself in a way that heals, opens, strengthens, creates space, facilitates awareness, and offers you a glimpse of your own Divine Truth.

Oh, and it’ll stretch out your hamstrings, too!

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Before and After

Before I had Max, I had time. Enough for my boys, enough for my sweetheart, and enough left over for me to think, reflect, meditate, write, practice yoga, run, wander, read, and ah…sleep… my time was mine.

Before I had Max, I had freedom. I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I had the freedom to choose the perfect time and place to pour over the art of articulating just the right combination of words and sentences. I had the freedom to write in the right setting, within the right state of mind, at the right time of day.

I had the freedom to craft and refine a yoga sequence that would suit my mood and specific needs. I had the freedom to walk away from the practice if I wanted, because I would have the time to do it later.

Before I had Max, I had energy. My mind was sharp, clear, concise, and poised for conversation. I had the energy to juggle everything at once, and never worried that I had forgotten something important.

Before I had Max, I had solitude. Meditation was sacred, private and yielded to quiet inner peace. I was alone, All One, whenever I needed it.

Before I had Max, life was easy, predictable, and secure. I was rarely challenged.

Before I had Max, something was missing. I searched and longed for something that I couldn’t understand.

After I had Max, I faced fear. I grieved the loss of my old life, my old habits, and my old me.

After I had Max, I found something new.

I found strength.

I found clarity.

I found direction.

I found Grace.

I found humility.

I found commitment.

I found discipline.

I found surrender.

I found a new way to meditate, a new way to practice, a new way to run, a new way to wander, a new way to read,  a new way to write, and a new way to love.

I found a new me.

And I like her.

Thank you, Max, my beautiful baby boy.

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Photo: www.anetaivanova.com

A Perfect Body is a State of Mind

I recently came across a photograph of myself in a bathing suit when I was around 17 or 18 years old. My body language perfectly illustrated the degree of my insecurity as I tried to fold into myself, as if trying to disappear. The scowl directed at the person behind the lens demonstrated my irritation and embarrassment.

As I look at the photograph now, nearly 20 years later, I see something that I didn’t see then. I see a beautiful girl and a beautiful body—not a perfect body defined by media standards—but healthy and perfect enough. Why didn’t I see the beauty then? As I reflect on this, I wonder if, in another 20 years, I’ll look back on some photograph taken of me during this moment, at this stage of my life and think, “Why didn’t I see the beauty then?”

What would it take to accept the fact that you are beautiful right now? To embrace your imperfections and see that they are the attributes that make you uniquely perfect? And why is it so hard to do?

I think part of it is that we’ve been taught not to love our bodies—that it would be arrogant or egotistical to feel love toward ourselves. Yet, wouldn’t we want our sisters, friends, mothers and daughters to feel like its okay to love and accept their bodies? There is only one way to truly teach another person to love themselves, and that is through your own example. In order to teach another person about true self-love, you must live and breathe and embody self-love for yourself. If you truly love yourself and accept your body, then nothing more must be done. The energy of that love will extend beyond you to everyone and everything around you, and it will be felt deeply, in a way that no words or actions could ever express. If you can’t love yourself for you, love yourself for someone you care about.

I know that self-love and acceptance is much easier said than done, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process of reconfiguring your thoughts and perceptions—a process that starts out foreign and uncomfortable, but over time becomes easier, and eventually, a natural part of what you believe in.

Here are three simple suggestions for getting started on learning to love and accept your body:

1. A perfect body is a state of mind. All change is facilitated from the inside out, meaning that you are what you believe in. If you always believe that you still have to… (fill in the blank), before accepting yourself, then you will always feel that way—no matter how many times you succeed in filling in that blank. Start by believing that you are already perfect enough. That simple shift of perception will create an energetic ripple that extends from the inside out to transform everything—including your physical appearance.

2. Tell yourself you’re beautiful. (I know—it’s cheesy, and initially it will feel like you’re merely spouting words without meaning), but make a new habit so that every time you look in the mirror, smile and tell yourself you’re beautiful. You can start out being silly or sarcastic and its okay if you don’t believe it at first, but over time, something will shift and you’ll begin to see that you really are beautiful. If you can’t remember to do it, stick a post-it note to your mirror as a reminder.

3. Think about one thing that you enjoy experiencing through your body—the feeling of soaking in the tub, the pleasure of hugging someone you love, or the exhilaration of pushing your body through exercise—it could be anything. Be grateful that your body offers that experience. The more you practice gratitude for what your body offers you, the more you’ll find to be grateful for.

Forming a new way of seeing and believing takes time and patience, but loving and accepting yourself for you and those you love is well worth the effort.

margaretdurow

photo: Margaret Durow

Soft Belly

I currently have a two-week old baby, which means that—depending on how you look at it—I’m either in a state of complete bliss, or a lack-of-sleep induced fog. (I think it might be a bit of both). My baby likes to be held. Whether he’s sleeping or awake, he seems to know whether or not I’m physically holding him–which means, I’m currently writing with him strapped to my chest as I methodically sway from side to side. This could lead to some misspelled words and incoherent sentences. My apologies in advance.

Since the focus of my blog right now is primarily on the idea that optimal health and fitness happens from the inside out, my post today is about the fear that I battled throughout my pregnancy of facing my postpartum body.  This is my third child, and I’m 37. In my mind, that feels old enough to expect that my body will likely not bounce back right away; and a third pregnancy…well, that’s a lot for one body to go through! Throughout my pregnancy, I managed to conquer most of the fearful or negative thoughts with conscious awareness and positive intentions for myself and my baby, and now that I’m facing the reality of my postpartum body, I’m discovering something unexpected…I  kind of like it.

I have a round belly, big boobs for nursing and a bit of curve to my normally slim frame. If I were to sum up my body in one word, I would describe it as soft; which makes a nice cushion for my baby to sink into and snuggle up against. I didn’t expect to feel this way.  By working to dispel the negativity surrounding my postpartum body, the most I had hoped for was acceptance of my body, and here I am in awe with love and appreciation for all that it has gone through—the amazing development of pregnancy, the delivery of my beautiful baby, and the miraculous recovery from childbirth.

No matter what your body has gone through, I hope you’ll look at it with love and appreciation. It carries so much, releases so much, and heals itself again and again. It’s like witnessing a miracle every day.

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What’s Your Internal Motivator?

Early in my pregnancy my weight was increasing at a rate that felt like too much, too soon. I realized that if I continued to put on the pounds as quickly as I was, by the time I carried to term, I would end up gaining much more weight than what was recommended by my doctor. I knew I needed to become more conscious about my habits, and for some reason, my initial motivation rose up out of negativity for my lack of discipline and carelessness. Combine that with being sick and tired most of the time, and I had nothing to propel me toward healthier habits except negative internal motivators and the intention to simply eat less and watch the numbers on the scale go up, up, up.

For about one month I (tried to) deprive myself. An internal dialogue of negative thoughts and regrets about how weak I was being was followed up with how guilty I felt about being weak in the first place.

Needless to say, that month didn’t go so well. I ate more because I felt bad, and I felt bad because I ate more. It was not a healthy cycle to be in.

I realized that my approach wasn’t working, so I decided to focus on what I really wanted—and that was to have a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy no matter what the number on the scale was.

My internal motivators shifted from negative to positive. I was still sick and tired most of the time, but when I felt like snacking on salty or sugary foods to ease nausea, I tried drinking tea, practicing yoga or walking instead. My motivation was no longer focused on my weight; I was focused on having a healthy baby and pregnancy instead. And I stopped looking at the numbers on the scale.

The weight began to even out, and eventually fell into a healthy pattern of gain. By the end of my pregnancy, I was right where wanted I to be—feeling strong, relaxed, comfortable, and well within a healthy weight gain for my body type.

Through this process, I realized that the negative internal motivators were really pulling me down and keeping me there—creating a cycle that didn’t give me the confidence or the positive motivation that I needed to see the real reason behind why it was important to me to stay within a healthy weight range. When all of my focus was on the numbers on a scale, it triggered personal attacks such as feeling guilty and weak—which of course, didn’t give me the strength to make any positive changes. But once I got clear about my intention and motivation, it aligned with my internal strength and resolve to do something that would benefit myself and my baby.

I’m amazed at the power of internal motivation. Both negative and positive motivators have a tremendous effect on the physical outcome.

I’ve put together a fun and easy little worksheet that will help you to determine your internal motivation as it relates to your body, exercise and food. It’s a free, downloadable pdf that I can send to you once you’ve signed your e-mail up for occasional updates and information from my blog. You can sign up for that right HERE.

I hope you’ll take a close look at what motivates you and your relationship to well-being. I truly believe that a positive outcome starts with positive internal motivation, and that begins inside of you–a place where your strength and power are unsurpassed.

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Inside Out: An Introduction

I feel as though I have to dust the cobwebs off of my poor, neglected blog. I’ve been taking a break from things—my own little hibernation of sorts. This winter I have been drawn inward—preparing myself for a new baby (any day now!), nursing new thoughts, and creatively conjuring fresh ideas. For me, winter brings a natural tendency toward introspection, and the springtime begs for me to spill it out.  I know that we’re still a few weeks away from spring, but I can’t wait to introduce some exciting new ideas that I hope will resonate with you—they have certainly resonated with me.

Over the past ten years, I have dedicated a huge amount of time and energy toward teaching, practicing and understanding how to obtain optimal health, fitness and well-being.  I am passionate about using my own experiences to help others, and the new ideas I intend to express through this blog are no different. Everything that I share through my writing comes from my own experiences, most of which I am still trying to figure out for myself, even as I share them with you.

One of the ideas I’m currently processing is the fascinating relationship between thoughts, emotions, habits and inner dialogue, and how they directly affect the physical body. I believe that every thought has a physical manifestation. If the thought is negative, it has a negative effect on the physical body; if the thought is positive, then the effect on the body is positive. Sometimes the affect is obvious and immediate, while other times is may not reveal itself for days, weeks, months or years.

For example, have you noticed how stress can make you sick, or leave your muscles feeling sore and achy? Or what about the natural ‘glow’ you get from being in love or sharing a happy occasion? What about less obvious scenarios? How do you think your body responds over time to constant streams of negative internal dialogue? How do you imagine your body would respond to constant love and positive feedback? Furthermore, how much of your inner dialogue has become habitual so that you’re not even aware of what type of information you’re sending yourself on a regular basis? How do you think that might affect your physical body?

This is just a small sampling of some of the questions and topics I intend to write about over the next few weeks as I direct the focus of my blog toward exploring healthy transformation from the inside out: a heart-centered approach to health, fitness and well-being.

Next Post: Are you using negative or positive motivators?

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Integrated Wellness Has Ended; Next Up: Prenatal Yoga, Of Course!

The semester has just ended, and I can’t even begin to express how amazing it was to teach the Integrated Wellness class at USU.  I made a million mistakes, and getting in front of the students to teach made me nervous every. single. time. Yet, as much as it was challenging, it was also incredibly rewarding. I was forced to get more comfortable with speaking, I learned about creative ways to present information, and the students were so inspiring as they shared their own thoughts and views on the material. They taught me more than they could ever know. I’m already planning out ways I can improve for next time!

Now my focus has turned to the baby growing in my belly and how I can honor my body during this process of growth. Part of that process means taking a (much-needed) break from teaching regularly scheduled public classes. Yet, I can’t possibly step away from teaching entirely, so I’ve started to record and share free prenatal yoga and fitness classes on You Tube!

When I found out I was pregnant, I envisioned having a beautiful and strong connection with both my body and my baby during this magical time. Yet, once the sickness settled in at around six weeks, all I wanted to do was disconnect from my body and the discomfort I was experiencing. Then I felt guilty that I wasn’t enjoying the pregnancy like I thought I would. The one thing that has helped me connect to my body is my yoga practice. It teaches me that I can remain present through discomfort, stay focused on my breath, and surrender to the sensation, whatever it may be.

I hope that if you’re expecting a baby, you’ll treat yourself to a prenatal yoga practice. It has truly been one of the most treasured parts of my pregnancy. And if you’re not expecting a baby, please share the link with someone who is!

For FREE prenatal classes on You Tube, visit: Emily Parkinson Perry Yoga and Fitness

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