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Healthy Living… an experiment in yoga living

Now that I’ve been walking this yoga path for some time, I have a few questions that have been percolating of late in regard to yoga, self-love and healthy living.

For the sake of your health, what are you noticing?

In my advanced Yoga studies at Kripalu institute, I was introduced to the BRFWA (an acronym) strategy for noticing. Breathe. Relax, Feel, Witness (they say watch) and Allow. This strategy can serve as a Mantra or as a guide for inquiry to direct attention, especially when sensations are extreme or intense, be they strong or subtle.

“Health is the thing that makes you think and feel NOW is the best time.”

– Franklin P. Adams, American Columnist

Mindfulness in it’s most simplest form is paying attention, noticing what is and what isn’t, right NOW. Mindfulness, as meditation, prayer, introspection and contemplation is ANOTHER key habit for happiness and joy. The practice of Meditation, rooted in this notion of mindfulness invited the deeper intention of allowing. Allowing is a state of permission that triumphs over our learned practice of evaluation and specifically judgment of something as good or bad. Allowing is the practice of fully “being with” whatever is sharing the moment in body, mind and energy.

For the sake of your health, what are you consuming?

From early adolescence I committed to healthy living and learning how to optimize my health through exercise, diet and value-based choices. Initially these practice were more of an all-or-nothing exercise in control based on the myth that more is always better, except of course when NONE was best. I exercised myself into injuries and controlled my meal schedule into a food disorder. All for the sake of optimum health and wellness. I didn’t know how to navigate the messiness of the middle and I had no foundation of tolerance let alone acceptance for imperfection. Fortunately, the damage was not irreparable. I got help and things started to shift.

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and NOT merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

– World Health Organization

Brené Brown (social researcher, international guru on shame and belonging and personal hero of mine) defines worthiness as the conviction that you are good enough just as you are, flaws and all, and that you deserve to be loved.

YOU deserve to be loved … to be included … to belong.

Brené (I like to think we are friends and on a first-name basis!) offers 10 “rules” for self-love as worthiness.

  1. You are enough
  2. Share your whole story and whole heart
  3. Engage with the world
  4. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love
  5. Get vulnerable
  6. Let go of your armor
  7. Speak to yourself the way you speak to someone you love
  8. Let go of perfectionism
  9. Get grateful.
  10. Practice authenticity.

For the sake of your health, what are you practicing?

Today I understand that Yoga is the practice of being with what shows up just as it is. Only after that space of allowing is created can I begin to choose Actions (doings and non-doings) to influence what happens next. This choice is what fuels a sens of hope for me.

“Health is the greatest gift;
contentment the greatest wealth;
faithfulness the best relationship.”

– Buddha

I once read an article that spelled out the 10 most common habits practiced by the worlds happiest people. I no longer have the original source… at the time it didn’t seem necessary. I embraced the “just” of it and moved on. Now it serves as the foundation to my life’s work! I teach these 10 practices from the Yoga perspective in my Yoga Living program and they provide the foundation for my Coaching and Training curricula (and my life!).

Pantanjali outlined the Ashtanga yoga path as progressing toward and culminating in Samadhi, or Bliss. Some define this state as beyond our worldly life. I prefer to think of Samadhi as that state (albeit temporary) of happiness and joy when the world feels in sync and at ease; when I feel integrated, united and connected to All.

According to the research article, happy people routinely engage in 10 practices resulting in a positive attitude and state of happiness and joy, based on the assumption that happiness and joy encapsulate a well-lived life. Do you agree?

Living vibrantly is the state of being when the 10 practices of self-care are an integrated part of my daily life allowing me to enjoy moments of bliss and know that hope resides in the power to choose. This choice to do, not do, to learn, to ask for help. TO cry, to play, to celebrate, to sleep. This is Yoga Living.

These 10 self-care practices, as I remember and have interpreted them are the following:

  1. Gratitude
  2. Movement (Yoga)
  3. Meditation/Contemplation/Prayer/Introspection
  4. Healthy eating
  5. Quality sleep
  6. Healthy touch
  7. Learning something new
  8. Authentic friendships
  9. Play
  10. Service

If you’re looking for your own personal 10 Commandments, these, and Brené‘s are some worthy options.

Over time and with many compassionate and deeply patient teachers, I have come to more intimately embrace the broader truths contained within the ancient teachings and native practices for living well. That’s not to say that new wisdom is always received with open arms and an open mind. Sometimes I still catch myself stamping my foot and crossing my arms across my chest in protest to what I don’t like, what I don’t want to be true, and what I don’t yet understand (and may never really grasp!).

For the sake of your health, what are you learning?

Learning is so important to our wellness, it’s included in the list of happiness habits. I’m lucky in that I love learning and studying. In fact, learning is one of the easiest self-care habits for me to maintain. So, I ask again, for the sake of your health, what are you learning?

Swadyaya is the yoga word (Sanskrit) for study. Patanjali, the ancient scribe of all things Yoga, defined swadyaya as a core principle and  included it in the 2nd limb of Niyama. So the ancient Yogis and the modern health professionals agree, learning matters!

I love to learn … and read …  and study. Some might even define my favorite yoga “type ” as jnana, the path of knowledge wisdom. As I prepare to embark on my next BIG training adventure, I’m excited about what awaits between the covers of my texts and within the contents of my practice.

I know not everyone has the inherent desire to read and study, but we all benefit from intentional learning. What are you learning and studying in your practice? Maybe you could use some support in this arena. If so, consider joining me and others in Circle for an adventure in community connection and yoga study.

For the sake of your health, HOW are you living?

Can I invite you to consider living VIBRANTLY … intimately with prana, authentically in community, and wisely in compassionate service. Living vibrantly is about embracing the 10 habits of happiness and joy and crafting your daily practices to nurture and enhance these ten components of your daily living.

“One who has health has hope,
and one who has hope has

– Arabian Proverb