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Where is Your Energy Going?

We have 24 hours a day to accomplish all our tasks, tend to our needs, interact with others, AND stop and smell the roses–if we’re lucky. Generally, in this part of the developed world the most dedicated and drained multitaskers and workaholics are practically given medals by their superiors, friends and family for their killer ‘work ethic.’

Who cares? We all should. In a time where, generally, our collective energy output is far greater than our energy input, we’re at risk of burning out and losing our connection to each other. I, for one, think that’s terrifying.

I am just as driven and hard-working as some of those superhero employees–heck I’m writing this at 7:00 AM before I head into work for a 10 hour day. I bet you are just as busy, too. Maybe you break up your work hours in a different way, but most of us are juggling two or more jobs and commitments all at once.

Whether we feel forced or inspired to spend our 24 hours a day working and moving, we DSC4840are draining ourselves of energy. Many of us continue to putter away at household chores and to-do lists, forgetting to turn-off our worker switch when we’re home and done for the day, too. While these items might feel like they need to be done today or every day, they aren’t going anywhere. Your chores are always waiting for you.

What’s not waiting for you is life. While you drain your energy on working in a variety of ways you deplete your resources, often losing touch with your lighter self- the one who laughs, who is truly present for their friends, family and other human beings, who takes warm baths and sees the odd movie. When you pour so much out of yourself you have to take some energy back in.

If ‘work ethic’ can be defined as the, “belief in the moral benefit and importance of work and its inherent ability to strengthen character,” as per Dictionary Reference, then a working definition for what I call ‘energy equilibrium’ could be, “conscious effort by an individual to balance energy input and output, for the sake of mental, physical and emotional health.”

So, how do you receive energy? You start by looking at self-love. Are you practicing it? If not, avoid judging yourself, just make a commitment in this moment to take better care of the unique and powerful vessel you’ve been given. Think of your body and brain as a vehicle and when that vehicle runs out of gas it breaks down and leaves you stranded.

Energy input starts with taking care of numero uno.

What do you naturally enjoy to do? What helps you to relax? What makes you laugh? What naturally soothes your sorrows? Ask yourself these questions and then listenphoto.PNG-2 closely to what your heart says in return. When you’re feeling depleted, refill your energy resources with activities, thoughts and movements that bring a smile to your face.
If all you need to do to bring your energy levels back into balance or find that ‘energy equilibrium’ is a walk around the park after work each day, or a massage a couple of times a month, then do it. A fundamental part of my self-care routine is meditating and practicing yoga every day, no matter what. Throw a bubble bath and a rooftop patio glass of wine on top and I’m feeling full of positive energy after a beautiful, but energetically draining day.

A key part of finding energetic balance is including positive interaction with other human beings in your everyday life. If you’re constantly surrounding yourself with people who take and take from you without giving, or who suck the life out of you with their negativity, you’re losing energy, too. Choose to surround yourself with people who fill you up, challenge you to grow and who take care of themselves—because that way you’re more likely to as well. Make your health and happiness just as important as your success and you’ll find balance in your life!

Namaste

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Eryl McCaffrey is a Yoga Teacher/ Studio Manager from Toronto. She’s also a Freelance Writer, who’s passionate about health and wellness. Eryl believes in the power of love to heal and advance the world. Her blog: twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com

9 Living Yoga Practices

There are many ways we can practice yoga without being in a studio or on a mat. Bringing the philosophies and teachings of yoga into our everyday lives is really what it’s all about.

Yoga is much more than a set of postures. It is a way of life. Living yoga is presence, connection, maintaining balance, and aligning with our core values. Living yoga can be tending a garden, loving our families, surfing, volunteering, taking part in sustainable living practices, mindful eating, participating in a beach clean up, sailing the seas, teaching a child how to read, practicing on a yoga mat, creating a mural, or listening to a friend. When we practice the natural art of giving and receiving, we create infinite opportunity loops.

In today’s modern world there are endless distractions. Allowing ourselves to to be happy, healthy, and thriving should be at the top of the list.

Here are nine simple practices we can use to help remind ourselves how to embrace our yoga practice into our daily lives.

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1. Cultivate presence.

Notice the power of the breath. Become aware without judgment when the mind is drifting to the past or future. Recognize the only real place of freedom is the NOW. The only real thing we have is this very moment.

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2. Be a good listener.

Listen to friends and family. Really listen. Practice compassion. Learn to listen to your inner guide and not just the thoughts of the restless mind.

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3. Have loving, kind thoughts toward yourself and others.

Diminish all negative thinking. Let yourself feel all the feelings that may come up with an embracing attitude. Form loving, intimate, meaningful relationships with the people in your life and with the natural world.

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4. Spend time in nature.

The natural world can teach us all we ever need to know. Observing seasonal cycles can teach us patience, flow, and the miracle of life. Make connection to nature a priority. Try to enjoy outside time everyday.

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5. Develop a consistent personal yoga and/or meditation practice.

This helps us practice self-discipline, and make self discoveries we may have never known existed. Aim for a balance of working hard and following what you love. Notice how our practice on the mat correlates to everything off the mat. We are all connected.

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6. Be receptive.

Notice the next time you become “reactive” to something and then consciously change the attitude to “receptive”. Practice calmness. Take responsibility, be strong, and bring more love into your life.

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7. Make health and wellness a priority.

Take care of yourself! Omit stress; nourish the body and spirit, exercise, and practice mindful eating. Take the time to do things that make you happy. When we are healthy and happy, we can then inspire others to be the same.

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8. Live sustainable.

All we need is less. Simplicity. Notice what you may be doing in your daily life that can be changed to make more conscious efforts toward the environment. Get curious about alternative ways to live that make less of a footprint. Every small step helps. Let’s evolve to sustain. Become a living yoga activist and spark change.

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9. Selfless service.

Volunteer, give, and surrender to a power higher than yourself. Get involved in your community and be the light!

Live yoga. By fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect in the global yoga community, we grow closer to one another, our planet, and ourselves. Breathe it all in, LOVE it all out.

Be inspired by the Living Yoga Ambassadors at Yoga Trade. They are truly shining bright in this world and making positive impacts on communities locally and globally.

 

yogafarmloveErica Hartnick grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, and enjoys all things wild and free. She teaches nature inspired yoga and leads mindful adventures in California and Costa Rica. She gets excited about; LEARNING, intense weather, glassy ocean peaks, pillows of fresh powder snow, crystal clear water, positive people, cultural travel, thriving vegetable gardens, fresh mint chip ice cream, nature’s glory, LIVING YOGA, and connecting with others. She is passionate about the collaboration with friends that led to the creation of Yoga Trade, and is devoted to connecting the yoga community with infinite opportunities!

http://yogatrade.com/

Lessons from a Teacher & Student

 

I’ve loved yoga since I was 13, when my dad let me borrow his yoga postures handbook from the 70’s. I fell more deeply in love with the practice over the past couple of years and when I came to the realization that I wanted to teach yoga, I me-yogafeared change. I was scared of how my personal yoga practice might change as a student when I started teaching it. I thought I might fall out of love with yoga, because I was doing it for a living. Not so!

I am blessed to be both a teacher and student of yoga and life! Being on both sides of the table means I develop awareness about my body, mind and soul and see how yoga is embodied and understood in others–which is truly inspiring. So, I thought I’d share the lessons I’ve learned from playing both roles.

We’re All the Same

Don’t get your lulu’s in a knot just yet. I recognize that we are all unique (see below), but I also recognize how similar we are. On a basic, universal level we are all one. I’ll experience struggle on my mat in a certain pose and then see the same struggle in the face of a student in the same pose when I teach. It is only by seeing ourselves in others that we are able to truly connect, be present and empower others. As far as I’m concerned, we all sweat, loathe certain poses, celebrate others AND we all crave inner peace. Because I’m able to recognize our sameness as human beings, I have access to more compassion for people and a deeper kind of self-love.

We’re All Unique

As human beings, we’re all made from the same cloth, but each of us is also marked by uniqueness. I can say a cue or give direction when I’m teaching and see it resonate differently with every single person in the class. For example, if Idancers say ‘engage your core,’ one student might hug their lower belly in towards their spine, another might draw the front of their ribs together, while another might tuck their tailbone under to straighten their spine. We all interpret information differently and experience yoga in different ways. As both a teacher and student, individuality reminds me of the power of yoga to heal and transform anybody and any BODY!

Living Means Growing

As a yoga teacher and student I am always learning and growing. I’m learning from my students and they are learning from me. As a student, I learn from my teachers and they, hopefully, learn from me, and then the cycle repeats itself. Whether I’m practicing yoga or teaching it I’m constantly learning about the body, mind and soul and the importance of feeding each aspect. My yoga journey so far has taught me that it all comes back to self-love. When we show ourselves love and compassion the path towards growth and enlightenment doesn’t seem as impossible and intimidating, because we know we deserve it, need it and can handle anything that comes our way! Not to mention, when we love ourselves deeply we can love those around use deeply, too.

Namaste.

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Eryl McCaffrey is a Yoga Teacher from Toronto, Ontario. She’s also a Freelance Writer, who’s passionate about health and wellness. Eryl believes in the power of love to heal and advance the world. Blog: twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com

Finding Yin & Yang

There are cold, wintry nights and then there are bright, warm summer days. There is effort and there is ease. There is starvation and there is food waste. The universe is comprised of yin and yang. Dark and light, strong and weak, sad and happy–these are all opposing forces that rely on one another in order to exist.

Yin and yang are two halves that complete each other. Nothing is completely yin or yang, as each aspect contains within it the starting point for the other aspect. Just like day turns into night and night turns into day. Yin is darkness, shade, receptivity and reflection, while yang is sun, light, energy and strength. You can’t have one without the other, especially in your life.

Find Balance on Your Mat

Yin-yang yoga is all about finding balancing on your mat. No, I’m not talking about being able to hold that headstand for 3 more breaths, I’m talking about finding the soft, warm and cozy halfway point between work and relaxation, play and perfect posture, mental focus and meditation. Yin is typically the reflective and restorative part of the class, with lots of deep holds to expand flexibility and remove energy blockages in the body. Yang is the active, energetic, hot part of the class, which improves muscular strength and stamina. To me, it’s the perfect marriage between challenge and release.

If yin-yang yoga isn’t for you, you can still apply the Taoist concept to your regular practice. Find ways to soften in a muscularly-draining pose, take child’s pose when you’ve sweat up a storm and need rest, or feel energetic during Sun Salutations to move on from deep releases and passive poses. Strive for balance, always.

Find Balance in Your Life

The more consistently you practice finding a balance between effort and ease on your mat, the more you’ll be able to find peace in the craziness of your everyday life. If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately with work meetings, social engagements and exercise, (a.k.a. living in yang), maybe it’s time for some stay-at-home nights to restore and relax your mind and body. Stressing with that work assignment or essay that you just can’t seem to finish? Stop trying so hard and start applying ease to your actions.

In fact, you don’t have to apply ease, you just commit to feeling the simplicity and ease in all that you do. So, instead of viewing that assignment as a super difficult task you’ll never complete, take it one step at a time and breathe through it knowing you’re capable of finishing it. Bring just a little drop of water to your fire so you don’t extinguish your flame too early. Go with the natural ebb and flow of life and always make a commitment to finding balance, peace and presence on and off your mat!

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Eryl McCaffrey is a Power Vinyasa Yoga Teacher from Toronto, Ontario. She’s also a Freelance Writer, who’s passionate about health and wellness. Eryl believes in the power of love to heal and advance the world. Her blog: twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com

Flow Like Water

GO WITH THE FLOW

Yoga has taught me so many life lessons and above all it has shown me how to go with the flow. When I apply the ‘flow like water’ approach to my life, I move and breathe with ease and enjoyment. If I choose to fight against challenging moments or events, everything feels much more unmanageable. As I prepare to move to a new city and begin teaching yoga at brand new studios, going with the flow is keeping me grounded and relatively calm.

FROM MAT TO THE REAL WORLD

My favorite style of yoga to practice is power vinyasa yoga, or power flow. I am drawn to the fluidity of this practice– how each pose is connected to the next through flow and breath. It reminds me of a beautiful dance that allows its practitioners to move through negative blocks into positive, open space. The more I hit my lake-boatmat, the more I’m reminded of the benefits of pushing past stuck energy and discomfort. If I sit and wallow in complaint for too long I begin to see every event as a struggle and every action seems to require more effort than I want to afford it. If I go with the flow though, I am able to let go of what is no longer serving me and stay in the present moment.

GETTING PRESENT

Going with the flow requires us to be present to what’s happening before us. We must first be grounded in the now in order to move through it into something new. My go-to grounding technique? I look at my feet, spread out my toes and press firmly into the ground.
Doing this connects me with the current moment and rooting down into the earth keeps my mind where my body is in reality. It centers me and requires me to slow down my racing mind. Once I’m calm and present I can choose to let go of anything from the past that’s preventing me from living powerfully and happily, and I can flow like water into the next moment. My mentor, Power Yoga Canada Co-Founder Kinndli McCollum, uses the image of water running off a duck’s back to describe going with the flow and letting go. It’s a
powerful metaphor that has stuck with me.

DON’T FIGHT THE CHALLENGE

In my view, it’s not only counter-productive to sit there and complain about how things aren’t going my way, it’s dis-empowering. It removes my personal power, which allows me to act in the moment and move on from discomfort into decisive action. Instead of focusing on all that’s not going right, I’ll do my best to shift my perspective and set my Drishti or gaze on what IS working out. From that place of positivity, a new world of possibility opens up to me. I am able to see solutions to problems that were seemingly hidden before and I can move through a challenge, coming out on the other side unscathed and stronger than before.

TEST IT OUT

Next time you feel your body tensing up and your mind racing, ground yourself, breathe and consider dropping the struggle, and going with the flow. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You may find it hard to just go with it when you’re starting to take on this new way of being, but once you do there’s some incredible gifts waiting for you on the other side. If you go with the flow you may just end up finding out you yoga-hairactually enjoy something you never thought you would, you may feel more resilient than ever before for kicking crisis in the butt with grace, and you may cultivate lasting inner peace.

Namaste.

Eryl McCaffrey is a Power Vinyasa Yoga Teacher from Toronto, Ontario. She’s also a Freelance Writer, who’s passionate about health and wellness. Eryl believes in the power of love to heal and advance the world. Her blog:twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com

The Power of Meditation

Imagine waking up in a field of sunflowers, lying on a soft patch of grass with the sun’s warm rays kissing your skin. Where you choose to go from this paradise is up to you. You can stay in the bliss that stillness offers you tree-poseor wander around the field to soak up all the beauty it has to offer. When you begin your day with meditation, your mind can transform into that breathtaking sunflower field and your soul can explore it with wonder, love and gratitude. With practice, your world– the one you open your eyes to when the timer rings–can begin to take on the characteristics of the dreamy, peaceful place you tune into in meditation. Suddenly, the smell of those lilac flowers on your walk to work is intoxicating and wondrous. Simple acts like climbing into a warm bubble bath or slowly untangling your knotted hair begin to fill you with comfort and gratitude.

How, you ask, can meditation– which takes place in my mind–make my real world experience more fulfilling and enjoyable? Well, it starts with recognizing that meditation doesn’t merely take place in your mind, but also in your soul and your body. You can access this peaceful state when you’re not sitting on your meditation pillow by connecting with your soul through your physicality, or more specifically, through the powerful muscle in your chest. Your heart is your compass to love, serenity and happiness. You need only pause when you feel lost or unpleasant, place your hand on your heart and listen generously to what it has to say. When you allow yourself moments to tap into stillness and peace and quiet you can hear what your soul really wants. It may come to you as a quiet voice in your head asking for a break in the day, or as a pounding pulse that’s urging you to take action in a situation you’re facing. Listen to your heart, as it is the loving home of your soul. Connecting with your body, spirit and mind can bring you true balance and overall wellness.

Described in this way, meditation may sound magical, yet unattainable. It may feel out-of-this world, but it’s not impossible to achieve. If you’re just starting up a meditation practice consider that you already have all that you need to find peace and happiness. You’re born with it in your soul and you just need to reconnect to it from time to time. If you already have what you’re looking for then, you do not need to tirelessly search for it or work hard at it. Through stillness, meditation can let you effortlessly reignite the serenity inside of you so that it shines bright and pours out into the world around you. There is no doing or trying, there is just being. When you drop the struggle, all will reveal itself. Breathe, let self-judgment and expectation fall to the way side and the rest will fall into place. Remember there is no such thing as being good or bad at meditating, there is just your unique experience and journey towards your higher-self. What happens on the way there is just part of the path to enlightenment and it need not be judged or made to mean anything about you.

I struggled with meditation when I first began. I’d sit anxiously for a few minutes, sneaking a peek at the clock every chance I could to see when it would be over. It seemed I could never find a “comfortable position” to Meditation-by-lakemeditate in and my mind was a torturous hell that I would have rather ignored. Every self-doubt, judgment, piece of past pain or regret would surface during these moments of stillness and I’d become consumed by them. I didn’t know how to be still and peaceful at the same time. Through dedication and practice I can say that’s far from the experience I have meditating today! I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to find a place to plant myself for a few moments of tranquility. It’s getting easier and easier for me to tune into that simple, yet beautiful place without effort or discomfort. That’s not to say I don’t have days when I struggle to relax, but I’ve changed what I let those days mean to me. I don’t judge myself for being antsy at times or floating away in my thoughts. I notice it and let it go so I can be present for my next meditation.

That piece, right there, is the biggest shift I experienced in my meditation practice from displeasure to bliss. I began practicing non-judgment of my thoughts and dropped what I thought meditation had to look, feel and be like. If I started thinking about money troubles, an old argument or upcoming event I’d observe the thought without criticism and let it roll on by like clouds in the sky. With time, I became skilled at letting go of these negative thoughts and better able to connect with the peace, love and happiness in my heart. The best part of this all is that my meditation story is like so many others, one that includes initial unease and eventually leads to joy. Just be patient with yourself, experiment with different ways of meditating and find what works for your unique, beautiful being. Reconnect with the peace and love that created you and that’s destined to shape your life.

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Eryl McCaffrey is a yoga teacher from Toronto, Ontario and a passionate health and wellness writer. She’s driven to empower others to step into their greatness by spreading love and compassion. Check out her blog at; twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com.