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I should blog more.
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Neti Pot 101
'Tis the season for allergies and sinus congestion!
First off, if you have never heard of a Neti Pot I like to personally welcome you to a nasal cavity changing experience.
I did not know, nor had I ever heard of said Neti Pot before participating in my first yoga teacher training.
I felt super un-cool for not knowing what this contraption was, and when I found out it was basically pour water INTO your nose my fear of drowning instantly triggered.
"Hasn't someone suffocated from this before?!"
"Won't my eyeballs feel the acid burning sensation of salt water filling them as I scream bloody murder through a waterfall?!"
I know... I'm not making this appealing to you, but this is exactly what I thought.
Once I was exposed to the Neti Pot culture, (like there are meet ups and Neti Parties.....hmmm....next party idea, CHECK) I then felt like I was light years behind.
"I mean you've tried grass fed almond root artisan vegan bacon from the Himalayas haven't you?!"
NO. No I have not - And don't present it like this is some mainstream word like the words "toothpick", "sandwich" or "briefcase".
Who's to say what is mainstream to you and what's not.
Coming back around....This is the scoop on what a Neti pod is, how you use it, what it does, it's health benefits and its popularity which is on the rise.
So I'm here to prep you for that "grass fed almond root artisan vegan bacon" conversation that you may encounter AND to share with you my first experience of the Neti Pot.
What is it?
It's a small tea pot shaped container that you fill with a water based soldium chloride and sodium bicarbonate powder aka salt solution.
How do I use it?
Fill the Pot up with lukewarm water (warm enough to melt the salt but not hot enough to burn you). Tilting your head to one side, take the spout of your Neti pot and begin pouring the lukewarm salt water into one nostril. You're head should be tilted enough that the solution exits the opposite nasal passage.
Pour half of the solution through one nasal passage, and then switch sides. All about that balance.
Will I drown?
Will I choke?
Maybe, maybe not.
Will I get snot on my face?
I will let that be a surprise... Kidding, it just depends on how much congestion you are suffering from but there is a way to keep it clean! DO THIS IN THE SHOWER!
Try not to swallow the solution. If you do remember, it's just a little salt water and surprises - there are worse things in many other products we consume knowingly or not. THEN, blow your nose without closing off the nasal passage.
What does it do to my nasal cavity?
The warm water solution naturally breaks up and washes out the nasal cavity passing any mucus and congestion out of the body through the nose. The salt based solution also helps moisturize the cavity as well.
Use it for:
-nasal allergies, dryness, and hay fever
-sinus pressure and nasal stiffness
-nasal symptoms from flu & cold
-nasa irritation from occupational and house dust, fumes, animal dander, grass, pollen, smoke etc
-post nasal drip and nasal congestion
With a rise in natural remedies for illness and wellness you may begin to hear of this Neti Potmore frequently so now you know what it is and what it does.
So what was my first experience like?....
This coming from a person who has a fear of drowning, face planting on water skis, and is in the beginning stages of playing with alternative remedies.
The trick - don't think about it, just stick that little tea pot up to your sniffer and whip your hair back and forth - WAIT - Don't do that just tilt...Just tilt.
I felt INSTANT, YES INSTANT relief.
You can find a Neti Pot or NasaFlo system at your local CVS, Walgreens etc.
Try it for yourself and post your Neti Pot pics with #glamourshotNetiPot. I dare you.
There is nothing better than the feeling of a gut wrenching chuckle, an unexpected cackle or a surprise one syllable “HA”. The power of laughter can decrease stress, change perspective, rid anger and has the ability to connect people. Supporting both your mental and physical health, laughing releases endorphins, strengthens blood vessels and is a natural muscle relaxer.
Ever fallen down on your face in class?
Displayed a human reenactment of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Tripped across the studio over absolutely nothing and try to pass it off as a light jog? Snored in savasana? Sure, we all have.
Yes, it’s true! We ALL have! And I’m here to tell you that while many people think that a true yoga class is strictly zenned out yogi masters, serious practitioners, and secret cast members of Cirque Du Soleil, there are just as many Chris Farleys, left footers and giggle bunnies who are yogis as well.
You are allowed to laugh in a yoga class.
In fact, laughter can be beneficial to your practice. Laughing exercises the body, replenishes cells and provides fresh oxygen to your bloodstream. Don’t forget the silent sister of the mighty laugh, the smile. Sharing similar benefits, smiling is a quiet way to lift the intensity of your practice and release endorphins as well.
Balance is key. I love a good sweaty intensely focused class. I also love those days where I just can’t really gain my balanced and I’m forced to embrace the “giraffe on ice” methodology. I look forward to falling in class. Not only is it a reminder that we are all learning as we go but a reminder that going some place new can be fun and sometimes even funny.
So take it easy. Allow yourself some space mentally and emotionally to let go of the perfect way to take a class. Not only is yoga the practice of connecting the mind, body, and spirit, it’s the practice of finding your true Self. And if your true Self can fit in a Mini Cooper with 20 other people wearing red noses, or likes to wear shorts over your pants just to see the reaction on people’s faces – well then, welcome. There is a space waiting for your personality in yoga class.
If the moment strikes, don’t hold back. Get that extra rush of oxygen, that fun abdominal workout and don’t be afraid if you make your neighbor smile. They might need it too.
Laugh on, smile big and search for more fun on your mat. And don’t worry… the auditions for Cirque Du Soleil aren’t until August, you have plenty of time.
Stay in your body.
Our minds can carry us backward and forward in time emotionally charging us through past moments or creating anxiety about future situations that do not exist. When we let elements outside of our body control our emotions, it can lend itself to unnecessary suffering. In the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, and observing the possibility of existing mentally in a future state of mind, “Don’t make assumptions” can create anxiety and undue emotional distress. Using this agreement and the principal of “Stay in Your Body”, as outlined by Jay Fields in “Teaching People, Not Poses”, it can make it impossible to create the mysteries you are trying to solve of the future, because it’s not real. It will also eliminate wasting time creating imaginary scenarios that can be validated by saying “I’ll be prepared for anything” but in actuality you just lost two nights of sleep over it. Stay in your body and in the moment.
When I feel myself going into my brain, I begin to churn, over plan, or reassess a conversation or situation and my breath becomes shorter and higher in the chest. I stop and remind myself that I can always “go back to me”. Through the use of pranayama and clearing my mind, the balance returns. I do this on average 3-5 times a day full out, reminding myself to shift my thought pattern when I feel stressful energy rising. This allows me to direct focus and have conscience decision making skills, clear conversations and enjoy the moment I am in.
When I am able to shift my mental state of mind back into my body I feel more complete and purposeful. I consider it my moving mediation wherever I am. My quality of life and present moments are greatly improved and “the creepers” also known as anger and anxiety take a back seat to the driver of The Crazy Train… Me. Having the ability to practice this mindfulness or conscience train of think shifting gives me a sense of power and love. I have the ability to manage and reset my emotions at any given time. It may take longer at one time than another but like mediation it’s coming back over and over and over to retrain the my mental health. It connects me to my physical body and I am able to give my body what it needs – space and air to breathe.
When I can stay in my body for extended amounts of time, an overwhelming sense of happiness occurs.
I notice it but do not reward myself for it because it’s not a “goal” it’s a way to operate clearly and fully.
This is something I learned from one of my teachers Leila Cranford. With the opportunity to share this in the classroom I could teach this one lesson over and over and over again. I want to share this experience of calm and abiding repetition.
As a yoga student being present on my mat can be difficult sometimes. If I have disconnected from my body over the course of the day multiple times and never return, then make it in for an evening class, it’s much more difficult to let my brain wrinkles flatten out. However, when connected deeply to my breath and really starting slowly to open my practice, I feel like I could stay on the mat forever. While practicing “Stay in your Body” as a student it also keeps me in tune with my anatomy. There is a higher accuracy with which I feel my own body, my creeks or tweaks approaching, and I’m able to keep my body safe. Connecting through the breath to stay present also guides me further into asanas because I’m not mentally competing with myself, I’m letting my body work on its own, I’m letting it happen.
This principal saves me everyday. That is the level of importance that it brings to me. Without the principal of “Stay in your Body” I would be driving my Crazy Train and Wrinkled Brain off the High Five to soar into the beautiful disaster of chaos my mind can create. The words “stay in your body” sound more simple than it can feel sometimes – but over and over returning back to the breath, empowering the mind to quiet and feeling where you are in the moment – that’s where the good stuff lives.
Looking for a good read? “Teaching People, Not Poses” by Jay Fields” is an excellent read for teachers and students. This book covers 12 principles for teaching yoga with integrity – but you don’t have to be a yoga teacher to enjoy this book. It’s not just about our practice on the mat, it’s about our practice of life and these 12 principles can crossover into any profession. Pick it up!
Disappointments of any kind are tough. “Be stubborn about your goals, Be flexible about your methods” is a great way to carry on when the going gets tough and you have to change your path. But what about when you are forced to change your goal? What about the times when there is no solution and you have to move forward or move on?
This is where we are forced to accept the silver lining.
If you had told me that being a mother was going to be out of the question when I was in my twenties I would have scoffed at the thought and said to myself “that’ll never happen TO ME”, and that’s exactly what happened. At 32, that was the news and with more difficulties to follow, it is now my reality.
I was born to be a mother. The idea that I would never find that one piece in my 12,000 count puzzle of life box was confusing, exhausting, and heart shattering. I did not prepare myself for the child-less option. I didn’t want it. I was angry. I was sad. I was totally confused about this identity I imagined. Did I mention I was angry?
So after beating myself up enough, the emotional repairs began slowly.
It wasn’t until I stopped fighting myself and stopped devising the most elaborate unrealistic pregnancy options that I started to embrace who I am and what I had right in front of me.
The ultimate goal in life is to be happy and be loved. So when we beat ourselves up, focus on all the things we don’t have, or think we desperately need _____ to make us normal, human, woman, man, or loved…we miss the silver lining.
Silver lining (n): a hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty.
My Silver Linings:
I have a love that I do not know exists anywhere else or with anyone else, than the love I have with my husband, Dan. It’s more than special. It’s unique, accepting, exciting, collaborative and romantic. Yes, I will talk about how much I dig him when he’s not around because I love him so big I can’t help it. So, sorry about that – not sorry. I hope that anyone in a relationship with themselves or another is granted the means, be it time or focus, to spend really getting intimate in that relationship – and I’m not talking about the Bow-Chicka -Wow-Wow, I’m talking about what draws us to each other as humans. Asking questions, having conversations and being a little scared of the answers and accepting them. Growing a union of deep true love, an acceptance of that love, and creating a support system that is rooted in truth and trust.
I have time for self-evaluation, creative hobbies and traveling. I love to learn new things and discover new places and being allowed the space and time to do it, wanted or not, has been a gift. I need 3 more lives or a lot of yoga to keep me living so I can do everything I want to do, read everything I want to read and collect experiences that I have no idea are on my path.
I have met some of the most diverse people and created long lasting relationships with some of the most wild, loving, borderline crazy, fun, creative, nurturing people. I know that my imaginary life would have not taken me on the same path and now I can’t imagine my path without these real-life sitcom characters.
I could go on, because I am thankful and happy for so much now in my life, but this is not a read on the 11,999 things I’m happy about in life. It’s about looking at the disappointments that you’re still hanging onto and asking yourself:
Time heals. Some wounds take longer than others, but every wound is important. WHY?
Struggle is strength in camouflage.
As a society we view struggle as heartache or pain. Instead of sitting in the empty or angry feeling and absorbing that particular energy, what if we shift our perspective?
No matter the outcome, there is a finish line and you have the ability to make it to the end of that particular race. You have the ability to put one foot in front of the other and make it to the through the struggle. Then, when you cross the white line, you have an experience to learn from. There, in that place, is when you realize how strong you became while getting there. Look at what you HAVE accomplished. Observe the outcome that struggles have brought you and take a moment to be grateful of those lessons that have been learned.
Let go of the pains. They were merely the teaching grounds to show you the strength you are capable of. That is the silver lining.
We make pacts or agreements with ourselves to improve our life or lifestyle and even our yoga practice. Things like…
While these are great motivators and agreements to get ourselves to class, these aren’t exactly the Four Agreements I’m talking about. As Don Miguel Ruiz explains in his master piece “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” there are four principal rules of life to live by:
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.
Sounds poetically vague and simple right? Yes, and that’s the best part about these four agreements. They are easy to remember, cover a lot of territory and if put into action daily, will in fact guide you to your own personal freedom.
Let’s open these up a little bit. Now, if you are a bullet point reader, as I am often, you may miss this sentence because you got the quick list in bold above and you are good to go and process, so go buy this book! If you stayed with me, below is a quick synopsis of each of these agreements and my reflection on Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements written in the style of “Leanne”.
*cue philisophical clearing of the throat*
Being Impeccable With Your Word.
There is a way to be honest without being offensive. Saying what you mean doesn’t mean hurting anyone. It’s a work in progress but the truth of a situation can exist safely with rational people and those who have experienced conversations with a difference of opinion. Gossip – the silent killer of relationships. It took me some time to get away from the rush of “getting the scoop” but when I stopped being around people who’s favorite hobby was gossiping, suddenly the fear of being judged was gone.
At age 17 I began teaching children. Throughout the first few years I started to understand quickly how the smallest word of encouragement or criticism (technically, not emotionally) was absorbed quicker than a sponge. I remember thinking to myself – “holy moly, that’s a lot of power, speak wisely.” So I started encouraging the black sheep, the quiet ones, the back row Joe’s, and soon enough I had these beautiful, powerful and confident kids who turned to me for anything and everything. I discovered through my words that I was here to push and encourage the less prepared, less experienced, less confident and show them how great they were for every opinion, idea and goal they had and help them reach it. A turn, a tap step, a social decision, an approach to their parent, how to study, prep for auditions, win subtlety and lose graciously. This one thing alone “be impeccable with your word“, is the most powerful part of becoming who I want to be everyday. The effects are long lasting on others and have the ability to change lives.
Don’t take anything personally.
This always makes me think of cat claws, girl fights, and bridesmaids. “It’s not your day, it’s hers..”. This is not only relative to weddings and brunches but every day. It’s not always “our” day. The world does not revolve around just yourself and when people have the expectation that it does, they will be sorely disappointed. Someone’s reactions or words are a reflection on their own reality, not yours. When people flake out on YOU, it’s not about YOU, it’s about some deeper reason inside them, or just chalking it up to a crap day. The point is, I’ve started to realize that being personally offended by the action of others is pretty self-absorbed and allows us to participate in the victim role. “How dare she do that to me – Does he not understand that I – What a waste of my time….”
Keeping an impeccable word and staying accountable for commitments or actions along with a sprinkle of don’t take anything personally, can relieve unnecessary stress, false creations of story lines and save tons of time from obsessing over someone else’s motives or lack there of. I always ask myself when I trip in the lava I can mentally stir up..”is this really a problem? Is it my problem to solve?”, and if the answer to both is no, I call up my friend Elsa who once told the entire nation in one fail swoop to “Let It Go.” So thanks Elsa.
Don’t make assumptions.
Sheesh. This one.
I love to solve the mystery, be prepared for any situation and of course be right when I can. This agreement in itself will make it impossible to create the mystery you are trying to solve, because it’s not real. By following this agreement it will also eliminate wasting time creating imaginary scenarios that can be validated by saying “I’ll be prepared for anything” but in actuality you just lost two nights of sleep over. When trying to be right all the time, you can cluster your mind and convince yourself no matter what creative delusion is now living in your head, not matter how crazy… “I’m right”. Then you are just the sole owner of a false reality. Congratulations.
No one wants to be wrong, but who says everything is a contest or a battle. Being wrong is also objective, if eliminating situations/facts of science or the golden rule. Making assumptions about others, or things, is the act of closing your mind more than it is opening yourself up to the experience of an individual or event. Being judgmental only brings more judgement upon yourself and by assuming the outcome or reactions, the motives or intentions of another, you only create doubt, fear and competition in your own mind. Don’t assume you know the whole story. Don’t assume the motives of others. Don’t assume the actions of others. Here is where I insert that great saying, “Assuming only makes an….”. If you are not familiar with the rest of that statement, Facebook me.
Always do your best.
No, she’s not the most flawless human on the face of the planet, who is – but there is one thing she has always taught me. Don’t do anything half-way. I was 5 when I told my mom I wanted to be a dance teacher and own my own studio. “It doesn’t matter what you are doing”, she said “if you want to be a basket weaver, lawyer, make bubbles, teach or be an astronaut – that’s wonderful – get up everyday and work toward the goals you want to meet because no one else will do it for you. It will work out, or you will find yourself desiring another path, but neither of those options mean you have failed. You want to do it – don’t let me stop you, because I won’t, but don’t stop yourself either.”
I think doing your best does not mean winning anything, it means putting quality time, passion and love into whatever it is you are doing. Learning from every success and hiccup. Not quitting because it’s hard but challenge yourself to level up and handle it. Not stopping ourselves with doubt. Our “best” has different definitions each day, it’s a wide scale but this approach has a sliding scale as well. It’s all about doing the best you can at that moment. Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions and keep your intentions positive. This is doing your best on every scale.
So where was I… oh yeah – read the book! I never thought what looked like a bathroom reader in a guest house would be one of the most shifting reads of my life. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Oh… I get that now.
So there I am.
In the middle of everything chaotic in my life, work, shows, conventions, competitions, my practice, managing kids and parents, running a business and being a helpful person at home and I felt an over whelming sense of burning out on all ends.
I needed a refresher, and I'm not talking about your virgin mojito flavor beverage from Starbucks, I'm talking about something that was just for me again.
I felt selfish at the time for thinking that I didn't deserve time to put toward myself while I was so busy taking care of everyone else... and then, the epiphany happened....
It wasn't my job to take care of everyone else, or control them.
I repeat - It wasn't my job to take care of everyone else, or control them. (I have to repeat that constantly as a reminder)
I didn't have a dog, or kids.
I have dance students and dance parents.
I had a business partner, and she had her own troupe to rally.
I have a husband, and he's an independent man who enjoys my company not being fussed over.
I had a job that I let sleep with me, eat with me, call me on the weekends, never called me back after a good time, and somehow I was doing all it's homework and paying it's bills too.
I had a problem is what I had.
A problem letting go of every little thing that I needed to have control over.
Coming from a pretty shaky childhood it made sense that I felt the desperate need to control as many situations that I could.
It made me feel safe.
But my misplaced control to get everyone else in a row lead to a new void, myself.
So in the middle of ALL this free time I had between juggling people who felt I needed to hand hold (NOT), I decided to do something for myself..... make more space for the one practice that was just mine. Yoga.
After a few months of hardcore devotion to my practice I hear it loud and clear, "I shall become a yoga teacher". *chimes ring out and the golden halo appears*
I had fears that my students/parents would feel betrayed as I devoted time to myself and this path.
I had fears that I would be away from home too much and resentment would surface.
I had the most fear about "what if I really suck at this and I wasted my time and everyone else;s..." there it is again, everyone else.
I knew I had to do it. For me.
So for the last year and a half I have studied, workshopped, traveled to learn, traveled for fun, beat myself up and built myself back.
I found compassion in myself and all of my relationships while appreciating how different they all are - and are all supposed to be.
As hard as it is some days, I've learned to let go of controlling what I cannot.
And guess what guys? That's everything.
And what happened?
I found joy again. Temporarily, as everything is, but I hadn't seen it in a while.
I found space to be quiet.
I found a better understanding of who I am.
I found an appreciation for time. Suddenly it was everywhere.
I found out, that I don't have to control other things, or other people to feel in control of myself.
I found out that the people around me were more happy when I was happy.
I found that challenging myself and believing in myself again was all I needed to let go and shake off the feeling that everything would fall apart.
I urge you, in the middle of chaos, to stare it in the face, give it the finger, and remember who you are.
A person who has time for YOU.