Since moving to San Diego, lots of new experiences are coming into my life.  New people, new places, new practices.

I went to a new studio last week to attend a class I’ve never been to before with a good friend of mine who swears by this one teacher in particular, Tabu.

It’s interesting how you get to a certain level, you feel comfortable, you feel on top of things, and you develop a level of consistency and confidence around your abilities…

…and then become humbled by crashing onto your face!

After a super intense opening sequence, we were instructed to move into Eka Pada Galavasana, or flying crow.  This is a pose I can normally reliably move into and hold…

…but not, apparently, after burning my muscles out first and becoming drenched in slippery sweat!

I slipped, and literally fell on my face, landing on my right cheekbone right below my eye.

I was shocked.

I had NEVER fallen like this before!

And it was so much less bad than I ever expected.  I was totally fine.

How many times do we not take the chance, or take the leap, or say yes to something, because we are afraid of falling?

But, really, what is the worst that could happen?  Falling is actually not as bad as we think.  In fact, I had a teacher back in Hong Kong who would have us fall intentionally just to GET OVER that fear and out of our own way so we could move on to bigger achievements and greater self-confidence.

Imagine what life could look and feel like if every morning, you took a leap, made a choice, or created a space so big you could fall?  If you got comfortable with getting uncomfortable?  Every single day?

You would be able to do more, expand more, and hold more.

That’s FREEDOM.

Give it a go.  Try it on.   Lay out a plan for a week.  Comment below with how YOU plan to take some big leaps every morning for this upcoming week.  Yes you might fall, and if you do, it probably won’t be as bad as you think.  But what if you don’t fall?  What if you fly?

Have a beautiful day and Namasté,
Julie

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As we discovered in my last post, “Create…by listening,” I found that I could manifest just as powerfully by resting as much as, if not more than, manifesting by doing.

I want to clarify this point based on some personal lessons I learned this week.

This question of when to rest and when to PUSH has been one that I’ve toiled with for a long time!  I think I finally have my answer…

I spoke with a woman yesterday who, despite all her best efforts at the gym and in her diet, is still not seeing the weight loss and health results she’s hoping for.  She’s beating herself up.

…Sort of like how I wasn’t seeing healing in my knee joint EVEN THOUGH I was resting, and getting so frustrated.

In both cases, the energetics did not line up with the intention.  In both cases, there was an energy of resentment, frustration, and depletion.  Self-doubt.  Self-loathing.

This woman was saying things to me like, “Sometimes it feels like I should just give up.  What’s the point.  I’ve always been this way.  I’ll never change.”

It was heartbreaking.

Just like how I learned I needed to be more loving towards my knee, and my body in general, this woman needed to send her body reinforcement and love!  Not self-deprecation and defeat.

I, for example, found that, yes, I needed to rest, but I ALSO needed to be foam rolling regularly, doing my PT exercises daily, and icing every day after my runs.  And since starting this practice, for the first time in decades, not only is my knee happier and healthier than ever, but I’m also getting coached to run the longest distances I’ve ever done at a pace that is beyond my scope of comprehension.  I’ve cultivated the love and belief in myself that health is possible, AND followed it up with healthy, CONSISTENT actions.

Since the above woman’s block was not consistency or diet or exercise programming, it came down to energetics and self-love practices.  The stress and anxiety from self-loathing has built up so much that the stress hormones in her body that are meant to protect her were working overdrive, and the fat was just not burning away.  Reduce the stress, amp up the love, and the results will appear.

Before I had coaching, I was out of shape and in pain.  I, like the woman I just mentioned, was completely defeated and frustrated.

And yet, I’m now living proof that with a combination of good coaching, a loving inner belief system, and consistent practice in training, PT, and joint care, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, and I feel completely amazing.

What would this feel like for you?  Take a deep breath in, and imagine your body in a pool of healing water, a loving energy of God lapping up against your skin and washing away any negative self-talk or energetic toxins.

How does that feel?

Let me know how this post helped you; what are you going to start implementing in your day to embrace more consistency, self-love, and positive choices!

Much love and Namasté!

Julie

Much love and Namasté!

Julie

Much love and Namasté!

Julie

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At this point, my arm had been up for 40 minutes, I was balancing on one foot, and I was on stage with four other people.  Out of the 300 that started.

The ache in my arm was numb….but my calf felt like it was going to break in two as my fine motor muscles worked so hard to try and keep me balanced so that I could obtain my vision of winning the Grand Prize, a $10,000 VIP day that would help me completely transform as a person, coach, and teacher.

Right there amidst it all, literally right next to me on stage, was my dear friend, Cole Bombino, certified health coach and yoga teacher.

She and I practice together almost every day–if not in a physical yoga practice then in an intention-setting exercise that we implement early every morning to spiritually and energetically align with our vision and our day’s intentions.

Even at the beginning of this challenging physical exercise in stamina, she and I actually started breathing in unison.

Her breath, her energy, and her presence helped me feel safe and it helped me feel strong.  I mentioned in Part 1 of this story that my vision was so strong and kept me so focused that I was even able to withstand nearly unbearable physical pain in order to achieve what was an important goal to me.

When we were called on stage, with our arms out and shoulders aching, Cole and I stood together in solidarity, breathing as one strong whole–a whole that was much, much stronger than the sum of its component parts.

And my singular connection to my vision only got me so far.

Surprise #2:

Without Cole there, I know for a fact that I would have given up much, much sooner.

They say there is power in numbers, power in community.  Cole, in that moment, and so much in my life, is my community.  Because of her support and constant energy, I succeed every day, and because of her support and energy at that challenging moment in time, I was one of the last contestants standing for this enormous prize.

In my next post, I will reveal Surprise #3…. and THE OUTCOME!!!!

In the meantime, how could you start to cultivate a stronger community?  Do you find it difficult to constantly stay connected to your vision, your ultimate reason for why you do what you do?  In what ways do you “give up” or “drop the ball” where you may not have if you had someone who bolstered you in moments of weakness? 

Let me know in the comments below, along with the action step you will take to create a partnership, a mentorship, or a peer community in your life that will support you right at those moments when, as one of my amazingly brilliant coaches says, you feel like you’re going to “give up five minutes before the miracle happens.”

Much love and Namasté!

Julie

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If there is one thing that is true about me, it’s that I’m a life-time learner.  I love learning more than almost anything else, and I get really excited about opportunities to be a student.  While I’m learning, I feel like everything else in the world is okay and, for me, it’s like there is never any sense of being lonely or disconnected. 

Indeed, I was a double major in college (Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology and Anthropology…that could almost be 4 majors lol), a double minor (French and Finearts) and later went on to receive my master’s in Marine Mammal Ecotoxicology.  One of the things I loved most about my majors, and even minors, is that there were so many surprising connections I would learn between different topics and areas that were so seemingly unrelated.  It was like finding treasure when I heard a professor lecturing about a concept in my Cultural Anthropology class that was also just previously discussed during my Cognitive Neuroscience class — Every time it ASTOUNDED me that these extraordinary connections existed.

So when I graduated with my my collection of degrees, while it was certainly a happy accomplishment, I was also devastated at the same time.  At the time, I thought it meant that the treasure trove of connections were forever behind me.  No more learning.  No more interesting and novel philosophies and concepts to be absorbed.   And worst of all–I felt alone.

It wasn’t long before I realized that there would–and could– be more learning.  Of course I would continue to find ways to make interesting and novel connections across seemingly unrelated areas.  First, because it’s simply my nature.  Second, because we attract that which we manifest.

So, into my life came podcasts.  Those of you who also enjoy learning, or crave a bit of mental stimulation, I HIGHLY recommend downloading the “podcast” app to your phone RIGHT NOW.  And then do a search on topics and people.  When my friends come to me needing advice and support, do you know where I tell them to go first?  Yes.  Podcasts.

So I was listening to the TED Radio Hour on NPR the other day and had another one of those golden moments of unexpected connection and knew I could not delay in sharing it with you all.  I know you will be just as excited as I was.  Especially since it really gets to the root of why so many of us love and stick with our yoga practice and meditation work.

In the deserts of Arizona lives a facility which simulates and tests a model of a habitat which is fully enclosed and fully self-sufficient.  A BiosphereFor two years, a group of scientists LIVED there; growing their own food, recycling their own waste, breathing only the air that was found in this fully enclosed space.  They had their own miniature rainforests and a private beach with a coral reef.  They had a savanna, a marsh, a desert.  They had their own half-acre farm upon which they had to grow everything.  I’ll let you check out the talk if you want to learn more about it on your own, but let me tell you now why I bring this up.

One of the things said in the talk struck a chord so deeply in that same familiar resonate way that I used to feel in college when I heard something in one unrelated class be said, perhaps in very different words but with the same meaning, in another class.   The scientist discussing the experience, Jane Poynter said this:

The most profound experience I had in the biosphere was the experience of not only being completely dependent on my biosphere, but being absolutely a part of my biosphere in a very literal way. I mean, as I walked through the biosphere, I was incredibly conscious of the fact that the plants surrounding me were providing me with the oxygen that I needed to breathe, and that I was providing them some of the CO2 they needed to grow.

When I breathed out, my CO2 fed the sweet potatoes that I was growing. And we ate an awful lot of sweet potatoes. And those sweet potatoes became part of me. In fact, we ate so many sweet potatoes I became orange with sweet potato. I literally was eating the same carbon over and over again. I was eating myself in some strange sort of bizarre way.

And then, a little later, in the context of broader learnings for all of us, she said:

And if you lose where you are in your biosphere or are perhaps having a difficulty connecting with where you are in the biosphere, I would say to you, take a deep breath. The yogis had it right – breath does, in fact, connect us all in a very literal way. Take a breath now and as you breathe, think about what is in your breath. There, perhaps, is the CO2 from the person sitting next door to you. Maybe there’s a little bit of oxygen from some algae on the beach not far from here. It also connects us in time. There may be some carbon in your breath from the dinosaurs. There could also be carbon that you are exhaling now that will be in the breath of your great-great-great-grandchildren.

CONNECTION.  If you ever feel alone (and I know some of you do because I hear this a lot), Take.  A.  Breath.  And reconnect with this perspective.  Remember your part, your role in the world.  Literally.  Ecologically.  Physiologically.  You are so important, your existence, everything about you.  Take a step back.  And remember that.

I hope this message gave you the “aha” moment that I experienced.  How cool is it that these scientists, interested primarily in the pragmatic applications of creating a biosphere to bring to Mars, ultimately had epiphanies shared by yogis worldwide?

I would love to know your feedback and find out what you think about this story.  What connections did you make?

Much love and Namasté!

Julie

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I know the average person sees Valentine’s day as an opportunity to buy presents and eat yummy fancy foods and buy cards and things.  Those are pretty traditional Valentine’s Day activities.  However, I like to view Valentine’s day as more of a benchmark.  A time to sit and contemplate my thoughts and perceptions about the most important thing in the whole world:

Love.

Many gurus and teachers say that the best way to receive love is to first love yourself... embrace self-love.  I agree with that, and that all sounds great…but what does it really mean? 

The first step is figuring out what you need.  What you enjoy.  What brings you bliss.  …That is the easy part.

What comes next is the hard part.  …Actually doing it.

When you start to think about it, I know you will immediately encounter the big obstacle, the big question: “And where am I supposed to find the time for this bath/massage/chocolate eating/yoga session/date with myself?”

This is where you employ the secret technique.  And this requires some practice.

Learn how to say, “No.”

When you can say no, you can start to set expectations and boundaries with those around you.  Stop overcommitting.  Stop trying to be such a people-pleaser.  Stop putting YOU on the back-burner.

And this isn’t just about a one-time occurence of self-love and bliss.  This is about creating a sustainable pattern that you feel REALLY good about.  And modeling– being a good example– for your spouse, kids, family, and friends.

To help you with this process, which can at first feel selfish and guilt-inducing, I’ve included here a mantra to support you.

We begin practicing this love meditation on ourselves, contemplating:
May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.
May I be safe and free from injury.
May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety.

After that, we can practice on others (he/she) contemplating:
May he/she be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.
May he/she be safe and free from injury.
May he/she be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety.

After that we can practice including ourselves with others (we) contemplating:
May we be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.
May we be safe and free from injury.
May we be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety.

-Inge Santoso

Do you find it difficult to say, “No”?  How will you practice this important skill?  Comment below with your thoughts!

Much love and Namasté!

Julie

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Sometimes, things just don’t work.  You’re out of luck.  Nothing is going your way.  The world is all against you.  So you find yourself grumpy and frustrated.  Sometimes, no matter how nice you are to people, or how hard you try to make things right, it just seems like you’re pushing a boulder up a hill.

Next time you find yourself in this situation…step outside, and take a look at the sky.

What kind of moon is it?

Whether you believe in it or not, think about it or not, notice it or not, that moon is affecting you.  You know how the moon causes the tides, right?  Well guess what, our bodies are composed of up to 65% water, too!  We, too, feel the waxes and wanes of the moon’s phases.

The wise and beautiful Nelly Furtado once said, “I live my life by the moon… If it’s high play it low, if it’s harvest go slow and if it’s full, then go,” (Turn off the Light – Nelly Furtado, 2000).  While she was bringing it to the mainstream, I learned from my first Ashtanga teacher, Neil Barker (a staunch and no-nonsense Brit), to align my yoga practice to the phases of the moon.

When I see a new moon out my window, it means SLOW THE EFF DOWN.  Time to turn inward.  Time to meditate and listen to my intuition.  Time to be quiet.  Time to rest.

When the moon is full, as it will be this coming weekend, it means work on new projects, complete unfinished projects, intensify your yoga or exercise practice, wake up early and have an active day!

You may find that when you start to synchronize your activities with the phases of the moon, things will flow much, much more smoothly.  Resistance is often the universe trying to tell you something.  Stay one step ahead  by tuning into the world around you.  If it’s a new moon and you’re trying to go go go and things are not not not working, try instead to take a few minutes, or a few days, to do less.  To ALLOW yourself to receive the benefits of a beautiful restorative yoga practice, or a little extra sleep, or a movie night with a friend or partner.  If the moon is full and you’re trying to rest, but something feels off, see instead what happens if you up the energy a little and work on a project despite your energy levels.  It’s probably going to be really worth it.

This weekend, the moon is FULL!  It’s also Valentine’s Day.  Make some big plans!  Have fun!  Be with people!  Put yourself out there.  Step out of your shell.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

In what ways can you better align your schedule and routine with the moon phases?  Comment below with your thoughts!

Much love and Namasté!

Julie

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Let’s talk about the BIGGEST question on all of our minds, especially during the holidays.  The question that keeps us up at night, the question that makes it impossible to wake up in the morning–the question that nobody really seems to actually ever know the answer to.  I’m going to say it RIGHT NOW whether you’re ready or not!:

How do I achieve perfect life balance?!

Realistically–how many times a day do you say this to yourself in one form or another?  Maybe it also sounds like, “I ran out of time so I can’t work out tonight like I planned.” or “Feeling a little depleted now–maybe I’ll have chips for dinner instead of making salmon.” or “I had to take my son to soccer and my daughter to her friend’s house and my husband’s shirts to the dry cleaners–so what is this thing you call ‘me time’?!”

Once you get into the habit of the daily drudgery, anything other than this typical routine of yours will sound absolutely alien!

So let’s start from the top.  What even IS life balance?  This is my interpretation:  Balance is the delicate dance of giving and receiving.

Think about how and where this can apply to your life.  Is your give/receive barometer out of whack?  Do you give more than you receive?  Do you receive more than you give?  Perhaps it’s inconsistent in different life areas?  Perhaps it’s totally consistent in each life area?

More likely than not, you give more than you receive.  And here is my simple suggestion for today to make a life-changing difference for you:

Cancel one obligation on your calendar this week.

Just one.  Start small.  And use THAT time to do something wonderful for yourself.  Take a bath.  Sit in meditation.  Journal about your amazing accomplishments of this past year.  Take the time to cook a REALLY delicious healthy meal.  Get a massage.

A friend of mine told me I needed to practice receiving more, and he’s totally right, hence the inspiration for this post.  So how about we take this journey together?  I’ve been spending every evening at the rehabilitation hospital taking care of my father who is recovering from a severe stroke, and today, in light of this important message, I spent the morning with him instead of the evening to be able to go to a beautiful yoga class with my friends and to support one of our other friends who is teaching the class.  I literally haven’t seen my friends in over a month since I stepped into the role of caretaker, and this is an important choice on my behalf that I know EVERYONE (not just me!) will benefit from.

And how about YOU?  Where can you rearrange your schedule to make room for love and joy?  Let me know YOUR action plan in the comments below!

Have a beautiful day and Namasté!

Julie

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You’ve started regularly practicing yoga or meditation or both.  You’ve glimpsed moments of bliss, moments of stillness, moments of peace.

You never before identified yourself as spiritual, but something about the asana practice and the sitting practice impart upon your consciousness a sense of peace that perhaps feels beyond this physical world.  It’s a bird’s eye view that has a simple message: “Just breathe, and all will be okay.”

You start to feel great.

You start to feel like you know all the answers, because all the answers are the same.

This simplicity inspires you, and the more you absorb this experience the more you want to share it with your partner, your family, your friends.

But they… don’t get it.

In fact, the more you talk about it, the more discouraged you begin to feel…”Am I not speaking English?” you wonder.

In a way, the “enlightened” path is indeed a process of acquiring a different language.  It is an absolutely new way of perceiving the world.  And it’s sort of like the experience of a color–could you describe the color red to another person?  No–they need to experience it themselves.  And until they do, there is going to be a breakdown in communication.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this story.  I’ve heard it among my students, clients, friends…and myself.

Yoga and meditation are game-changers.  It is a fact that you cannot do yoga or meditation and not not change.  And those who are not ready for the change will just discontinue their practice.

By its nature, yoga is heart-opening, yoga is humbling, and yoga makes you start to ask a lot of questions.

And as a result, one question that ultimately will begin to come up is “Am I relating to/spending time with the right people?”

If this makes you squeamish or uncomfortable, I am going to give you a piece of wisdom right now that will bring you right back to your center and give you a huge sense of peace:

Before you start to question the mindset/actions/choices of those around you, you must first question the mindset/actions/choices that you yourself are making.

The above gem is a lesson I learned from the spiritual leader, Eckhart Tolle, whom I have been listening to a lot via my podcasts and audiobooks.  When I first learned this lesson, it was like a blanket of light came over me and warmed me with relief and joy and peace.  Rather than assuming the responsibility and burden of worrying all about those around me–all I needed to worry about was myself.

So how about you?  In what areas can you grow and expand on your journey?  What are you going to do to make this happen in your life?  Please leave your comments and thoughts below 🙂

Have a beautiful day, and Namasté.

Julie

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I taught a class this evening and I found a certain theme kept appearing in my narration during the class: Surrender.  I spoke about surrendering to the physical body and trusting it can hold itself.  Surrendering to gravity and letting it support you so you don’t have to grip.  Surrendering your worries and tensions to the higher power to be taken care of on your behalf.

Whether we were in heart-opening poses or contracted twists or compressive forward folds, it was consistently the theme of surrender that kept emerging.  In our heart-openers, we offer our love and gratitude to the higher power to show us the way, in our twists, we surrender any gripping or tension as we breathe into the smaller spaces so they can feel even more open when we release, and in the forward folds, we just let our tensions and anxieties melt out and away from us as we release forward into the nourishing, supported bend.

One of my students approached me after class, in awe, and expressed that the message of surrender was exactly what she needed to hear.  She said she had had a very busy and stressful week thus far, and being giving permission to let go and release that which she was so actively trying to control was quite literally the precise message she was waiting for.  In fact, she was so relieved of her feelings of needing to hold on that she almost forgot her yoga mat in the classroom!

I realized as I was teaching that the words I was speaking were also words I needed to hear myself.  I believe they are words that can actually benefit everyone.  So where in your life can you let go?  What muscles are you clenching, what organs are you contracting, exerting extra unecessarily?  Can you actually release those areas?  Take a moment today to sit and breathe quietly, scanning your whole body as you release the unecessary holding one body part at a time–from your scalp to your toenails.

Let me know in the comment box below–what did you release, and what did it feel like?

Have a beautiful rest of your day, and Namasté.

Julie

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Upon hosting The Body-Spirit Connection, I noticed one theme repeat itself among each of the interviews I conducted: Fear.  Because our on-the-mat experience is merely a reflection of our real life off-the-mat experience, the patterns we notice during our practice are applicable to our every day life, as well.  In Part I of this blog series, I discussed the real life impacts of fear, in Part II, the topic was using a certain asana, backbends, as a tool for getting more comfortable with fear, and today I will discuss how fear keeps us from “letting go.”

How often do you find yourself in a balancing posture, and you’re biting your lip, your shrugging your shoulder, you’re holding your breath, and you’re clenching your butt, all in hopes of holding the posture in the most “perfect” shape you can?  A good teacher knows that most students do this out of habit, and will explicitly tell them to start letting go…shoulders relax, jaw becomes soft, breathing is fluid, tailbone tucked…just use the muscles you need for this pose and let the other ones go.  At first, students are in disbelief; they believe that these extra components are not extra, that they are integral to maintaining the pose.  But they when they realize that they can start to let these “extra” energetic engagements go, that the pose DOES get easier!  Why did they not let them go immediately?  Because they were afraid to.

Take a moment right now to notice what areas of your body are clenched.  Your stomach?  Shoulder?  Jaw?  Notice this, and then, with breath, let those areas go.  Then take a moment to think of areas in your life that you are clenching, controlling.  Perhaps, like in our yoga practice, we don’t actually need to be controlling those areas after all.  Perhaps, if we let them go and breathe into the space, they will hold up on their own just fine, and maybe even better.  Have the courage to try, and see what happens.

I would love to hear how this “letting go” process affects you.  Please do share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below!

Have a beautiful day, and Namasté.

Julie

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