Category Archives: Yoga

Summertime and the Living is Easy – Sometimes

Orchids in bloomIf someone asked me what my favorite thing about summertime is, I would have a hard time narrowing my answer down to just ONE thing.  I absolutely love to swim, so swimming ranks high on the list.  I truly enjoy eating fresh vegetables from the garden and farmer’s markets, and summertime food prep on the grill is pretty sweet too.  And then there are the vacations:  my own annual scalloping vacation is in the heat of the summer, lots of friends and family come to visit to take advantage of the outdoor fun times in the Appalachian Mountains, and I get to hear excitement and joy from clients as they look forward to their own breaks from the day-to-day. Summer also just feels like it’s teeming with life and energy runs high and the long days yield a lot of productivity, but still leave time for some rest and a nap in a hammock. The only thing about summertime, especially in the American southland, that gets a thumbs down from me is the bugs that are just incessant. (But that’s what lemon, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils are for!)

Summertime is so sweet that it’s got its own anthem sung by the one and only Nina Simone, who reminds us in the soulfulness of her voice that life is long and complicated and filled with a full spectrum of emotions all the time, even in the summertime when the grass is high and the living is easy. And it is emotion, really, that’s on my mind this morning as I’m enjoying mist on the mountain over a rich cup of coffee.  I’ve been doing a lot of self-inquiry into my own emotional world while doing a lot of reading and listening to lectures and podcasts on the latest developments in the neuroscientific world around emotions, the brain, and the nervous system. There are a multitude of things I’d like to write about over the next few months, but today I am simply thinking about just how IMPORTANT emotions are and therefore how even more important it is that we all learn to discern what emotions we are feeling, especially when we dislike or disapprove of our own behavior or reaction to another person.

I went to bed far later than I meant to last night, as I got distracted with screens.  (Shocking, I know.  Who does that?) I was tired long before I stopped doing “just one more thing,” and turned everything off and got in bed, and by the time I did actually stop and get in bed, I was totally exhausted.  How many of you do this on the regular and find yourself feeling totally drained?  And how do you feel when you wake up after a too late night of distractions?

I realized last night that my emotions had gone flat because my “executive functions,” i.e., all that decision-making and task tracking and over-riding biological urges that tell you to go to sleep were zapped out entirely and my actions were absolutely on auto-pilot. This also meant that when I got in bed and my two sweet cats came into my bedroom to do their nightly power struggle ritual as to which one sleeps at my feet and which one sleeps near my head, I was at first mildly irritated.  After about 2 minutes, I was annoyed and my heart rate was increasing. After about 3 more minutes, I was angry and exhausted and weepy and I made both cats leave the room and sort themselves out somewhere else.  I had to just be still in savasana (yoga corpse pose) and do some calming meditation to ratchet my EMOTIONS back down to just tired and ready for bed.

So, it’s not that my emotions were flat beforehand, it’s that my brain and nervous system were both over-tired and over-stimulated, and my emotions were on a hair-trigger just waiting for some stimulus.  My response to that stimulus, which was from fuzzy creatures that I love dearly, was NOT loving.  Because when our nervous system is over-tired and over-stimulated, the emotions that tend to be triggered are not the sweet ones.

I had the luxury this morning of sleeping in without worries of an alarm clock disrupting the perfect sleep cycle, and was able to sleep soundly, for the most part.  When I woke up today, I immediately felt refreshed, happy to greet a Friday morning before a holiday, grateful for the rain that made sleep so blissful, and then super guilty for being so mean to my kitty cats. Thankfully, cats are more forgiving than people thanks to their smooth brains and infinite superiority complex.  But how often do our hair-trigger emotions lash out in ways that are way more destructive than my mild example above?  And just how much control do we have over such outbursts?

The answer is that most of us have precious little control over our emotions and lightning fast behavioral responses by the time we reach the end of a full day.

Earlier in the day, we have a lot more control, as long as we’ve had enough sleep and fuel for the most expensive part of our nervous system:  the big fancy brain and its prefrontal cortex. When we are feeling well rested, well fed, and in relatively low stress and positive mood, everything about our emotional world and the behavior it triggers is way more conducive to positive outcomes in our relationships and interactions with other people (and cats).

None of this is a revelation, nor is it revolutionary.  However, what I propose we all make time to do during the course of our overflowing days might be.  The world would be a much calmer, safer, happier place if we all took time outs for some restoration DURING our busy days instead of always running ourselves down to the cell phone battery equivalent of that 2% red line and then it just dies and the screen goes dark.

How do you do that?  Here’s a few things that I use, when I’m not trying to be super-overachiever-do-all-the-things-at-once woman and forget to take good care of my brain during busy days:

  1. Schedule a short nap or at least a “resting your eyes” time during your day (21 minutes is perfect and can leave you feeling refreshed without feeling “groggy” and this method works best on a day when you really did get enough sleep the night before.)
  2. Take short walks (inside or outside, though outside is best when possible) about every 2-3 hours throughout your day.  Just getting up and moving briskly for 5-10 minutes can really help re-set your brain.
  3. Do “cross crawls” for 30-60 seconds 5-6 times a day to clear out stress or frustration and give your brain a little break.
  4. Stretch and release your eye muscles by doing what I call the “clock” exercise.  You close your eyes for 10-15 seconds, and then open them and stretch them up (without moving your head up) to the 12 o’clock position and take a full, deep breath in and then out.  Move your eyes to 3 o’clock and repeat the full, deep breath.  Then to 6, 9, and back to 12.  And then reverse the cycle and repeat it moving your eyes counter-clockwise.  It takes about 2 minutes and is helpful to physically let go of eye strain, helps reduce headaches, and reduces stress in the nervous system because the eye circuits are really key circuitry in the brain.
  5. Listen to music, especially while doing tasks that require concentration and focus. Instrumental music is the most effective.
  6. Occasionally, when you are so overwhelmed and pressured that it seems totally impossible to do so, just don’t do all the things.  Or even better, don’t do any of the things.  Just don’t DO for a day on occasion.  Your body, mind, spirit – and relationships – will thank you.

To summarize, how you FEEL is what matters.  If you FEEL flat, watch out!  The trigger is hair sensitive.  But if you’re feelin’ good, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing!

And if you’re struggling in creating the life you REALLY want, please reach out for help.  We are here to assist.  864-918-2914

Bundles of Joy

Joy Jar

Pouring out joy!

I began my now-annual tradition of keeping a “Joy Jar” in January of 2014 during a very dark period of grief and depression in my own life.  I felt lost, exhausted, and just so gravely sad almost every day, even though my coaching practice was growing and I was in the best physical shape of my adult life.  Grief is a monster, with long tentacles that invade all aspects of life.  I saw a little post on Facebook about “Joy Jars” and thought, “what the hell? It can’t hurt to look for some joy, so I’ll give it a try.”  You can read about my first year of this process here.

Joy Jar 2016-2017Cut to NOW – January 2017. Life has moved forward, and mine has seen a lot of improvement and positive growth as I’ve deepened my practice of documenting my own joy, as often as I possibly think to do so.  As I began emptying out my jar, right after two back-to-back holiday driving tours, I noticed immediately that 2016’s jar had a LOT more joy stuffed into it!  Thinking back over the roller coaster of global atrocities, polarizing politics, and the loss of so many cultural icons, I was quite pleased to see that I had kept my attention honed around seeking joy in spite of the news and the general state of affairs in the world.  I felt a little giddy as I pulled the bits of folded paper out onto the kitchen table.

Table full of happinessAs I began unfolding each piece and reading my own scrawl, I noticed that I wrote more detail and more feeling words than I had in previous years.  I wrote lots of tiny stories about whole days or weekends, or a particularly juicy conversation or experience, sometimes cross-referencing dates in my journal so that I could read even more, and I also noted how I felt.

I saw lots of good feeling words like excited, grateful, loved, ecstatic, surprised, relieved, woo hoo!, feeling acceptance, unconditional love, yay!, and hopeful.  I saw that my joy was very active, too, with all kinds of verbs like hiking, swimming, rowing, paddling, laughing, eating, noticing, cheering, savoring, traveling, loving, and more swimming. I could see myself on location when I read my narratives that included relaxation, deep conversations, sharing experiences, boating with friends in Florida, hanging with my family during their summer vacation trip to my mountain, long walk and talks in the woods with my best friend, playing outside, sharing favorite swimming holes with my favorite kids, seeing fireworks over the lake on 4th of July, driving… Basically, the Joy Jar of 2016 was EPIC.  As I read all my bits of joy, I got to soak them up and experience them all over again.  I could really transport myself to those moments scattered throughout the year and connect to the warm fuzzy inside that led me to write them down for the jar.

As it turns out, joy is an infinitely renewable resource!

Bundles of Joy

Growing Bundles of Joy

And now I see a whole new value in the practice of stuffing your smallest moments of triumph and most intense moments of pure joy and excitement into a jar to review at the end of a very long 365 days: doing so helps you be discerning in your future goals and plans.  You can see EXACTLY what makes you happy and then you can PLAN to do more of those things. When your life becomes your own in this way, you feel a deep sense of freedom, purpose, and peace. Energy flows where attention goes, so make sure energy is flowing towards filling your life with as much joy as possible.

Having already done a good bit of my strategic planning and goal setting over the next 12-18 months, I’m now using the patterns I’ve extrapolated from my joy jars to tweak those plans and goals. When you plant seeds of joy, you reap more joy.  This is such easy gardening, and you don’t even get your hands dirty. If you’ve never tried this simple practice to help you be more mindful of what makes you happy, get started right now!  Your January 2018 self will be forever grateful that you took these simple steps.

  • Step 1:  Find an empty jar. Or a box. Or a notebook even.
  • Step 2:  Fill it with little notes to yourself about moments of joy throughout the year.
  • Step 3:  Empty it out at the end of the year/beginning of next year and have the pleasure of re-experiencing your own joys as you read through all your notes and stories.
  • Step 4:  Repeat.

May your 2017 bring you JOY in many forms, and may you be paying attention so that you notice when you feel it!  Namaste.

Not feeling the joy? Feeling stuck and not sure how to get out of your rut?  Call today for a FREE phone or Skype coaching consultation !  (864) 918-2914 or email info@completelifecoaching.com

Vicy is a Board Certified Transformational Life Coach, founder of Complete Life Coaching, and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Philosophy from Oglethorpe University (Atlanta, GA) and Durham University (England), respectively, with specialization in neuroscience, chemistry, and Eastern-Western philosophy of mind comparative studies, and a Certified Indoor Rowing Instructor.  When she’s not coaching or rowing, Vicy is also a yogini, wild water swimming enthusiast, Reiki master (Levels I & II), hula hooper, writer, speaker, and organic gardener. Vicy’s life purpose is helping others discover the best in themselves while learning to pursue their dreams and goals with proven strategies that’ll help them move mountains.

What is “Row-Ga!”?

rowgalogosmallWhat is “Row-Ga!”?
Interview with Laura Caylor, certified yoga teacher & Concept2 certified indoor rowing instructor

Join us for the third episode of our new 4-week Health & Wellness podcast series! This episode features an interview with Laura Caylor, certified yoga teacher, Supreme Science Qi Gong Level III, Thai Yoga certified, Concept2 certified rowing instructor, and pretty much one of the most fabulous women we know. She and her husband Lowell Caylor own Greenville Indoor Rowing in Greenville, SC, and Laura offers special “Row-ga!” classes Tuesday – Thursday at 11am.  We’ll talk about Laura’s personal yoga journey and discuss how the combination of yoga and rowing creates an amazing and inspirational workout that helps you build lean muscle mass, tone up, shed extra pounds, and learn to LOVE TO HAVE FUN again with people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and ages.

Learn more about GIR and Laura’s classes: http://www.greenvilleindoorrowing.com/.

Our Health & Wellness series is designed to give you a kickstart in motivation to explore some things that can help you build a better life and a better business… because when you feel great, everything is easier!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/completelifecoaching/2014/03/31/what-is-row-ga-interview-with-laura-caylor-certified-yoga-teacher