Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Celebrating Light

“Think of your well-being like a candle burning brightly inside of you. It is at the core of your being, and when you are feeling quiet and peaceful, your well-being is intact and your

candle is burning with ease.”

--Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Calendar

Since when did Christmas become so competitive? From stores trying to be the first to put out their holiday decorations and merchandise, (did anyone notice stuff appearing in stores at the beginning of September?) to the array of competitive commercials on TV.

I thought I was being a little oversensitive to the Best Buy ads until I read an article recently in The Washington Post by Hank Stuever who had the same feelings I did. There’s one ad that depicts a woman who has gone out and bought everything at Best Buy that her family wants and waits up for Santa to arrive only to mock him when he shows up. Poor Santa does nothing but give and this is the thanks he gets? And let’s not forget about the Target ads with the crazed lady who hasn’t slept in days and is in “training” for her shopping spree. She’s the one running through Target with a parachute attached to her and doing abdominal crunches on the red stability ball-like objects that are in front of Target Stores.

Personally, I think this woman could use a little yoga!

Even though these ads are funny, and some would even say clever, the holidays are not a competition they are a celebration. Whether we are lighting an advent wreath, a menorah, admiring all the decorative lights or lighting a candle for loved ones no longer with us, the holidays are a celebration of light. Light conveys unity; light opens us up to love;light represents hope and peace; light is an absence of darkness bringing the clarity we crave. Spiritual light is a common thread that all religions have. Just think how peaceful the world would be if we could focus on that common denominator instead of all the differences.

I found a great quote from an article written by Anne Naylor, a motivational speaker and writer, which sums up this concept of light beautifully: The Light is the great connector that finds harmony and union where there was discord and divisiveness. The Light brings healing and peace, where there was disease and discouragement. The Light sees plenty where I might see lack. When you pray,

see Light – because Light sees you.

However you choose to celebrate the holiday season and after all the busyness is done,

take some time to enjoy the glow of lights around you and let your inner candle burn brightly.

Warmly wishing you peace, love, joy, and light!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Turtle Had It Right!

“Determination and consistency yield results”

Pat Rigsby - Fitness business coach

These five words have become my mantra lately. I follow Pat’s business blog and this phrase really jumped out at me about a month ago. So much so, that I wrote it down and have it next to my computer to read everyday. He was referring to business concepts, but I think this phrase could inspire us whether we are trying to improve our diet and fitness habits, starting a new business or de-cluttering our home! You name it.

I get daily motivational messages sent to my in-box from The other day I received the quote below. It has the same idea as Pat’s, but with a fun twist. I hope it makes you smile too!

“I still don't get why people are so surprised that the turtle beat the rabbit over the long run.

Consistent effort, no matter how small, sparks magic, fills sails, butters bread, turns tides, instills faith, summons friends, improves health, burns calories, creates abundance, yields clarity, builds courage, spins planets, and rewrites destinies.

No matter how small.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Through The Eyes Of A Crayon

Here it is, the last hurrah of summer! Can you feel fall in the air? I certainly can. This has always been one of my favorite times of the year. The final weeks of summer are always full of anticipation. When my two daughters were growing up, I use to love the final week of August before school started. That was our week to go shopping for new clothes and shoes; we’d have our little fashion show at home, putting outfits together trying to make that critical decision on what to wear the first day of school.

Oh and how I will miss rushing out to buy all the new school supplies.

Starting the new school year with fresh notebooks and paper was always a must. Pens and pencils, I have decided, must end up in the same place as the missing socks from the laundry, because we were constantly buying packages of both!

To this day, however, there is one school supply that still gets my heart fluttering: crayons. Cracking open a fresh box of crayons for the first time, marveling at all the beautiful colors, enjoying the newness of each crayon with its fresh point and fully intact paper covering; inhaling that waxy scent always made me smile. It is truly one of my favorite things.

Coloring is calming and meditative. For those people who find it hard to sit in meditation, try coloring. Did you know there are some beautiful meditation coloring books available? They usually are printed in the shape of Mandalas, (the Sanskrit word for circle or center), which is considered to be a symbolic shape representing wholeness and unity. But you don’t need a special book, just some plain paper does the trick too.

Several years ago I attended a conference and Mare Petras, a motivational speaker, had this to say about crayons:

“We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have different and unusual names; and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.”

Who knew colorful, waxy sticks had so much to teach us? They not only allow artistic creativity, but also a meditative experience, not to mention their symbolism of living together in an accepting and peaceful world.



This fall will bring lots of new and exciting offerings at Body Grace!

New classes and teachers, another meditation session and a Sunday afternoon class to name just a few.

Be on the lookout for future emails with more information.

Below is the schedule for the next two weeks.

All classes will resume Tuesday, September 6

Pilates starts back on Thursday, September 8, 9:30 am

(Please note that the 8:30 am class will no longer be offered)

Teen Yoga starts on Wednesday, September 14, 4:15 pm

New Class

Gentle Yoga with Jan on Mondays 11:00 am – Noon

Starting September 12

For all of you who requested a gentle practice later in the morning here it is! This is a wonderful class for everyone but will be particularly beneficial for anyone with minor limitations.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Driving to the bank one beautiful, sunny day in June, I approached an elementary school; as I waited at the stop sign, I noticed a large number of students outside on the front lawn, under the trees doing some sort of outdoor activity. They were split up into four or five groups with an adult supervising each group. As I was driving past, one little boy caught my eye. He was standing off by himself, hands jammed into his pants pockets, looking down to the ground with an adult standing close by. Maybe I’m making an assumption here, but it sure looked like a time-out situation to me. All I could do was smile all the way to the bank as memories of time-outs while raising my two daughters came rushing back to me.

Time-outs are great! When our kids are little, time-outs give them a break from some kind of undesirable action, teaching them to calm down, cool off and/or to think about the consequences of their action. Sports teams use time-outs to regroup and strategize when the competition gets intense, creating a stronger team. Grown-ups need time-outs too. We may not call them that, but having a spa day; getting away on vacation; sitting for a few moments in meditation; taking some long, slow deep breaths during a stressful situation are all time-outs.

I’m putting myself in time-out for a couple of weeks at the end of August, taking some time to replenish myself at the beach and eat lots of pie!

Some of our amazing Body Grace teachers will be filling in for me.

And the whole studio will be closed from Saturday, August 27 through Monday, September 5, giving our teachers and the studio a nice break before returning to a full schedule in September.

I will send out another email within the next two weeks with a modified schedule for the time I will be away, as well as post the schedule in the studio and on the blog.



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Letting Go

“Letting go is the hardest asana. Life is about letting go: of every exhalation, of the day as we fall asleep, of our children as they grow up and leave home. When we resist letting go, we are resisting the flow of life itself. What can you let go of right now?”

– Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.

May is such a pleasant month. We celebrate moms, spring is in its full glory, the Memorial holiday weekend always signifies the beginning of summer, and the warmer weather permits us to plant our gardens and participate in more outdoor activities.

For many of us this is also the season of letting go. I cannot think of May without

also thinking about all the upcoming graduations. Whether our children are just moving from one grade to the next, or graduating from high school or college, there are always those bittersweet feelings of watching our children grow. I will always see the little girl in both of my daughters, but I’m also so proud of how they have matured into strong, independent women.

This May brings with it a couple milestones for me. I signed the studio lease on May 1 of last year and I will never forget standing in this empty place by myself, butterflies in my stomach, taking long, slow, deep breaths and experiencing a whole gamut of feelings from fear to joy! Even though all of these conflicting emotions were flowing through me, I knew that letting go and taking this huge leap of faith was the right decision; I had absolutely, positively no regrets!

The second milestone happening this month is our oldest daughter, Nicole, wedding on May 30. This is an exciting time for the family. We love Dale, her fiancĂ©, whom she has been with for over two years and is the perfect match for her, and we couldn’t be happier for both of them. But as much as we will be there on their wedding day to help celebrate their love and commitment to each other, I don’t doubt that there will be the emotions of letting go when she walks down that aisle.

Judith asks a poignant question, “What can you let go of right now?” Are you facing a graduation this spring or a wedding, maybe your kids are heading to summer camp for the first time? Do you need to let go of busyness in your life so that you have more free time to take care of yourself? Do you need a mental spring-cleaning by getting rid of anger or resentment that you have been holding on to far too long? And never underestimate de-cluttering your surroundings! Have you ever noticed how we can feel mentally lighter after a good thorough cleaning? Lots of clutter can zap our energy.

Letting go is not easy. In fact, Judith says it is the hardest asana (or posture).

But resisting can cause stagnation, so what can you let go of this spring that will help keep the flow of your life moving with grace.



Tuesday, April 12, 2011


“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”

Amelia Earhart

After finding this amazing quote from Amelia Earhart, I was thinking how great it would be if there were a kindness month. Lo and behold, a google search revealed that February is National Random Acts of Kindness month. I missed it, darn it! But because it is better late than never, here’s my challenge for April: to practice at least one act of kindness daily. Does it have to be elaborately planned for every day of the month? Goodness no! Something as simple as holding the door open for someone or being polite when we speak to people during the day or inviting a person to go in front of us in a check-out line just might brighten their day. And there are acts of kindness that others don’t see, but are just as meaningful, such as donating clothes and food to a charity or picking up trash in the park.

A few months ago at Starbucks, the person ahead of me, a complete stranger,paid for my cup of coffee. It was such a treat and I would have paid it forward except I was the only one in the cafe, so I placed the money I was holding to pay for my coffee into the tip jar. The young woman behind the counter asked me if I wanted some change back but I told her to keep it and left with my coffee, both of us smiling!

Enjoy this month of April, spreading roots of kindness.



Monday, February 28, 2011

The Yamas - Ethical principals for interacting with others

Working on our spiritual life is an ongoing practice that will take many different twists and turns because life is always changing. The yamas give us a guide to live more consciously. They are not always easy to practice and may require some soul searching on our part, but that’s the point. They help us to approach life with awareness, compassion and personal growth. A nice way to practice the yamas is to take one and work with it over a certain time frame, say a week or a month, longer if necessary, and then be open to, and aware of, the transformations that take place, whether that is speaking kinder words, letting go of a past resentment or watching less TV!

Here are brief descriptions of the five yamas:

  1. Ahimsa – nonviolence; not causing pain

“When nonviolence in speech, thought and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.” –Yoga Sutras

Ahimsa is derived from two words: a, “not,” and himsa, “harm,” meaning “nonharming.”

This goes beyond physical harm of a person or thing. Our words, thoughts and actions can cause pain to others and we can act violently to ourselves by our negative thoughts. The Yoga Sutras states, “Causing pain can be even more harmful than killing.

Even by your words, even by your thoughts, you can cause pain.” Practice compassion, love, and peacefulness and creating a positive self-dialogue. Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Martin Luther King, Jr all dedicated their lives to ahimsa.

  1. Satya – truthfulness

“When the practitioner is firmly established in the practice of the truth, his words become so potent that whatever he says comes to realization.” –Yoga Sutras

Satya is derived from sat, referring to the truth of God or the universe and ya, an activating prefix in Sanskrit; therefore satya means, “actively becoming the truth of the universe or God.” Ahimsa needs to be practiced with satya. Letting love direct our truthfulness, not using harmful words, and letting go of judgment towards others are other ways of practicing satya. Judith Lasater, an internationally known yoga teacher, in her book Living Your Yoga, suggests asking yourself three questions before speaking: Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it nonharming? If you can answer “yes” to all these questions, it may be okay to proceed. If not, you must weigh what is the right action in the situation.

She also goes on to write about another aspect of satya, which is inner truth and integrity.

“Honesty is what we do when others are around…but to have integrity is to act in an honest manner when others are not around and will never know about our actions.”

3. Asteya – non-stealing

“When abstention from stealing is firmly established, precious jewels come.” –Yoga Sutras

Steya means “to steal”; asteya is the opposite. Besides the obvious of taking something that belongs to another, there are other, deeper meanings to this yama. Jealousy can be a form of stealing, such as taking credit for another person’s work or stealing someone’s reputation by spreading gossip about that person. We steal from ourselves all the time by

being too focused on the future and not enjoying the present moment. There are some who interpret this yama to also mean not taking more than what we need; not sharing our talents; or not giving to others less fortunate when we have an abundance of “stuff” to give. In his book Meditations from the Mat, Rolf Gates writes, “Each theft, each time we ‘forget’ to return something we’ve borrowed, each moment we give in to the impulse to covet or to be jealous, we are saying, ‘My God is not.’ To practice asteya, we must abandon ourselves to the care of the universe. We must say in each moment, with each thought, word and deed, ‘My God is’.

  1. Brahmacharya – moderation

“When the practitioner is firmly established in continence, knowledge, vigor, valor, and energy flow to him.” –Yoga Sutras

The literal translation of brahmacharya is “walking with God” or “to remain connected to Source.” This is the hardest of the yamas to understand, as the classical meaning is “celibacy.” But if we dig deeper we will find that this yama is about finding moderation in our life, whether that is our sexual energy, food, alcohol, watching television, etc. Brahmacharya is about personal responsibility and creating balance in our life. In one of my teacher training manuals this quote sums up this yama beautifully, “This day I am moderate, centered and complete. I use my energy in ways that lead me closer to my Source. I treat others and myself with respect, recognizing the inherent Divinity of all people. I’m connected to my true self.”

  1. Aparigraha – nonpossessiveness

“If we are completely free from stealing and greed, contented with what we have, and if we keep serene minds, all wealth comes to us.” –Yoga Sutras

The root word of aparigraha is parigraha, which means to reach for something and claim it for yourself. By adding the “a” in front of the word, it takes on the opposite definition. Aparigraha, therefore, is the act of letting go. Practicing this yama may mean consuming less and living more or practicing nonattachment to possessions and people. People are ours to be with, not to have or to own. It’s okay to have a lot but not attach who we are to it. Aparigraha also means letting go of past resentments, anger and fear, or the obstacles preventing us from living a productive and happy life. At its deepest level, aparigraha is about forgiveness.

Ultimately the yamas are about practicing love, both toward others and oneself.