10 Ways to Get Motivated

d2bc7ce8-71a5-421f-95a9-4e8d87d45878I put this list together for you, just in case you can relate to not always feeling as motivated as you’d like. I was inspired to share these ideas because it seems to be going around lately; many of my clients have been wanting to feel more motivation, clarity and focus. Have you?

We are moving away from winter, when things moved a little slower (in nature, at least, if not in your life, specifically 😉 and it was good to fill up on nourishment and rest. Resting when you need to is still super important AND now that we are a couple weeks into Spring, you may be feeling like there is more energy available with more daylight to use it in… But you might not always feel the motivation to get going, or keep going on what’s in front of you.

In the beginning of every massage session, I offer my clients a choice of essential oils to add to their massage cream. The essential oils are made from parts of plants (the flower, bark, root or fruit) and have healing qualities that work on mental, physical and emotional levels. I often ask: Is there anything going on in any of those realms that you would like the support of essential oils with? Or… What would you like to bring in to your life?

Almost all of my clients in the last couple weeks asked for motivation …to finish their taxes, or to focus on completing another task they’d been putting off for a while.

Here are some ideas for you to try:

  1. Move your body. Get your Qi flowing with some kind of vigorous exercise, like a brisk walk letting your arms swing and feeling your breath. It’s a great way to start your day. Or any time of day, turn on your favorite song, whip out your craziest moves, and dance like nobody is watching. Even just a few rounds of cat and cow yoga poses can give you an energy boost. And I’m planning a fun, flowing sequence for Yoga this Friday 12-1pm in Santa Cruz. Let me know if you’d like to come and need the details :)
  2. Breathe a little more. Set a timer for 3 minutes, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Simply take long, deep breaths, in and out and see if you feel more energized afterward. In Yoga, it is said the breath fills us with Prana, the energy of life. Science would say we are oxygenating the blood that flows to the brain and every single cell in the body. A Jedi would say you are “using the Force.” Any way you slice it, if you breathe fully, you’ll feel more alive.
  3. Spice things up with a new tasty beverage. Consider brewing up something other than coffee to boost your energy in the morning or mid-afternoon. Though the “bitter bean juice,” as my son calls it, can get you going, it can also make your energy crash later on. Try one these energizing flavors instead:
    • Ginger – Make a morning cuppa ginger tea, by brewing slices of the root in boiling water. You can add lemon or honey, or drink it straight. Ginger helps you feel more energetic and motivated by getting your blood flowing, and it has so many other healing qualities!
    • Chai SpicesBrew up a blend of any or all of these: cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, peppercorn, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, of course.
    • Peppermint – This herb is quite stimulating, helps with concentration and gets your digestion flowing when it’s a little sluggish, too.
  4. Remember the bigger picture. Soften around your eyes and take a moment to call to mind why you are doing the task that is at hand. Why is it important to you? What good will it bring into your life? How will you feel when it is done? Is there a bigger goal you are moving toward?
  5. Take a nature break. If looking at the bigger picture is too big right now, go outside and get some fresh air. See how high you can jump at the beach, notice the beauty of a flower, or look up and see what the sky is up to.
  6. Focus on one thing at a time. The overwhelm of thinking about everything that needs to be done can bog you down and/or stop you from moving forward. Baby steps.
  7. Ask yourself some questions. What’s in the way of moving forward on this? What’s stopping you? Is it physical; like, do you need more rest? Is there something else that is more pressing right now that needs to be attended to first? Do you have all the information you need? What would happen if you didn’t do this – today, at least?
  8. Use the buddy system. Make time to hang with a friend or be part of a group. Talk with them about what you’re up to right now in life. You can even ask them for support in the form of *just listening*. Or ask for outright cheer-leading from someone you know cares about you. (Whoa, asking for help and then receiving it?!? I know, right. It’s hard for some of us.) Feeling supported and connected to people who believe in you makes a huge difference to how much energy you have to move forward on your projects, big and small.
  9. Do a little cleaning. And clear some clutter, especially in your work space, and the space you like to relax in. Being more organized in your living spaces does wonders for your mind. The cleaning itself gets you moving, and you end up with a tidier place to enjoy. Plus, then the need to clean isn’t the thing that’s getting in the way of getting started on a creative project or getting your work done.
  10. Finish your taxes :) And by that I mean, move towards completing some of the tasks that have been hanging over your head for a while. When you extend how long you are carrying the burden of having that thing-to-do on your mind, it gets heavier over time. Use the tips above to find motivation, re-focus your energy and do the thing. Or complete a smaller task first, and that sense of completion will also help you to move forward. You can do it! One thing at a time.

We’ll be diving more deeply into some of these topics and more in the 21-Day Spring Cleaning Challenge starting April 24th. I’m excited to see who has joined already and there is still space available if you’d like to come, too!

Just Waking Up From a Loooong Winter’s Nap

31bc2b42-f30b-4039-a55d-fb7e16e2d3d8I’ve been thinking of you, from my quiet, winter-y nook over here. I hope your holidays were nourishing and that you filled them with comfort, joy and gratitude. (Can you believe they were just a month or so ago?) And in this beginning time of a new year, I hope you are taking exceptionally good care of yourself.

My son said, “It’s a little late,” when I told him I wanted to write this post with New Year’s wishes. And maybe it is, but I feel like I just woke up from a long winter’s nap. And while I don’t recommend the gnarly sinus infection that forced me to stay in bed for days, I do want to encourage the nap part.

I don’t know about you, but I went straight from the holidays into feeling like I needed to Get back to work! That lasted about a day, before my body told me in an un-arguable way to: Get back in bed, and stay there for a week.

I can rest for a couple days with a bad cold, but come day four or five, or week two or three, it gets really challenging to keep surrendering to the fact that I just don’t have the energy to do anything aside from letting my body rest and heal.

What I’m learning, though, is that rest and rejuvenation are exactly what this time of year is for.  Where some of us live, we don’t have a winter blanket of snow outside to remind us to stay warm and restful, inside by the fire, with a good book, a cozy blanket, and a cup of tea or broth.

In the late summer and fall, I was encouraging you to find joyful movement everyday. At this time of year, your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to s.l.o.w….d.o.w.n…

Give yourself permission to take it easy. Keep resting. It’s what the earth and all of the other animals are doing.

Try and let go of the guilt, or whatever other voices may come up to say you are not being productive enough, not doing enough. When you settle into the quiet moments and rest, it is easier to hear from your intuition and tap into your creativity. The seeds that will grow into what you want to create this year – and will make happen – may be underground at the moment, and maybe even under a layer of snow.

When you have rested enough, you will feel ready. The Spring will come, but it’s not here yet. For now, focus on all the things you know to do to nourish your body, mind, and spirit.

Here are some ways I would love to help you rest, restore, and relax this month:

  • Check out the yoga class I teach every Friday from 12:00-1:00pm in room B290 at 2300 Delaware Ave. Just show up. It’s only $5! And your first class is on me! Yay!
  • Book a massage. Mmmmmm. I’ve just opened up a few extra slots in my weekly schedule. Is one for you?

As my last massage client just said upon walking in the door, “Ahhh, I can just walk in here and let go.” What helps you let go and slow down?

7 Simple Strategies to Alleviate Stress & Overwhelm

5f1163de-5bd2-4cc2-8601-ebaae9832848I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on what helps me deal with my stress on the day-to-day. It’s not always easy, but there are some simple things that you can do every day that will make a huge difference. So I wanted to share what I’ve found with you:

7 Simple Strategies to Alleviate Stress & Overwhelm

  1. Exercise for at least 20 minutes every day.
  2. Ask a friend to go with you, for support and accountability.
  3. Drink more water. (Studies show that stress leads to dehydration, and dehydration leads to stress. Break the cycle with some H2O.)
  4. Eat healthy, small meals with some protein every 2-3 hours.
  5. Find moments for rest and “down time” in every day.
  6. Try new kinds of movement and exercise to keep it fresh.
  7. Make time for fun, spontaneity and adventure!

Finding Joy in Movement to Overcome Stress

Autumn runningSince I ran the last 21-day challenge and outed myself as an exercise enthusiast, people have been asking me how I became this way. Was I always an athlete? No, not at all. So I wanted to take a moment to share a very personal, vulnerable but powerful slice of my life with you.

So here is a little bit more of my personal story, why I’m so passionate about helping people to breathe more fully, feel better in their body, and to be more relaxed, present and open to finding joy in their ‘one precious life’. And why I believe so much in the power of regular exercise.

I’ve been exercising regularly for a while now and I feel really healthy and strong – in my body and mind. (I think I exercise more for my mind than my body, but more on that later.)

In fact, as you may have heard, I just did my first sprint-distance triathlon a few weeks ago. And honestly, I was kind of amazed with my body’s ability to swim 1/3 of a mile around the Capitola Wharf, then get on my bike and ride 11.5 miles and top it all off with a 2.5 mile run that started out uphill. I’m pretty new to running, biking and swimming so I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be able to finish. I mean, I was on the swim team, but I was the one over on the far side of the pool having underwater tea parties and doing handstands when the coaches weren’t looking.

During the triathlon, I gave myself full permission to rest if I needed to, and to go at a pace that felt just right for me. No matter what, it was going to be a personal record, right? But there was this energy about being in it with the group. It was like we were a school of fish, all headed in the same direction, all there to support each other if needed. Combine this with my internal motivation – or you could even call it curiosity, about whether I could do it – and I kept tapping into that possibility that I would just. keep. going. And I knew that I would. And I did. And it was awesome!

But it wasn’t always this way. Just over a year ago, I wasn’t sure if I could keep going the way things were. My teeth were slowly shrinking (from grinding them), and so were my clothes. I literally thought I was going crazy.

I was so stressed and overwhelmed that it felt like my mind was in a thick fog most of the time. I was grinding my teeth all night, and then waking up with that old familiar tightness in my chest, mind already racing. Some days I’d feel like I couldn’t eat, and some days I would eat a ton, trying to stay grounded by having food in my belly. Oftentimes, it was really hard to take a breath in any further than my throat.

It reminded me of about 12 years ago when I was dealing with the sudden accidental death of my older brother, and my Aunt Brit looked over at me and said, “Aura, do you realize you’re not breathing right now? You’re having a panic attack.” At the time, I had no idea that I wasn’t breathing, being so wrapped up in the stress and shock.

Years of teaching yoga and meditation later, I have a lot more awareness of what’s going on with my breath. So at this point just over a year ago, I knew something was missing… or several things… deep breaths, the top layer of enamel on my teeth, my sanity, clothes that fit. And possibly the most painful thing missing: a relationship with my kid that included fun and play. He looked at me one day and said, “It just seems like you’re always stressed, mom.”

Among other things, I went to see my doctor, and she gave me a prescription for anxiety medication, no questions asked. When I walked out of that office, I thought, “Do I really need this?” Maybe. And as I contemplated taking them, I also thought, I have a lot of tools in my toolbox, cultivated over 15 years of teaching and studying wellness. Maybe I owe it to myself to try a few more things before I do.

I teach people to breathe, and hold space for them to relax. I lead people in ways to move (and be still in) their bodies to relieve stress and open up to feelings of presence and ease. And I know how to get through stuff. Even at times when I could only squeeze out 10 minutes a day for myself, as a single mom of a young child and a business owner, I made a commitment to myself to breathe and pay attention to my body every day.

I knew there were things I could try before taking the medication. So I just decided to use that prescription as a wake-up call. And I never opened it. But what I did do is I went home and I started focusing on all the things we all know are good for us. I started exercising, drinking more water, focusing at least 5-10 minutes on my breath each day. I got advice from a nutritionist to eat small, healthy meals with some protein every 2-3 hours. And this is one of the most important pieces: I reached out for support. I asked my friends to exercise with me. I set dates throughout the week when I knew I could meet up with a friend and go for a walk together.

I didn’t do it alone. And that’s the #1 tip I can give to anyone who knows if they were taking better care of themselves and exercising more, their life would be way more livable. Ask a friend to go with you. Or have someone hold you accountable. Tell them you’re going to workout, do it, and report back that you did. When I get to work out with a friend, I’m so much more likely to actually get out the door, because I know they’re waiting for me, and because I know it will be a lot more fun together.

That’s why I created this 21-day challenge. Exercising helps me in so many ways. When I start moving every day, my body naturally craves healthier food, and I feel way better in my body, exactly as it is. And even more potent, I can feel the power of movement to keep my mind and mood balanced. I can take breaths that go beyond my throat and all the way down into my belly. My son can tell I’m in a better mood after I exercise, so now he encourages me to go out and work out. He’s seeing me set the example of taking great care of myself. And he was an amazing cheerleader, with wide-eyed admiration calling me a badass, as he ran alongside me for the last leg of the triathlon.

I believe what they say about it taking 21 days to form a habit. I exercised every day for 21 days and now, when I skip a day, my body is like, What?! If it’s too late to go outside, I turn on some good music and have a little dance party in the kitchen.

If moving every day feels this good for me, I imagine it must be pretty helpful to other people, too. But it can be hard, to make time for it, to decide what to do, and to commit to actually getting out there and working out. What if I could help people solve these problems? Make exercising a fun, do-able, daily thing that you can do with friends. Add some variety by trying new things.

Take good care of you!