A Few Ways to Make Self Isolation Work For You- Being At Home During the Coronavirus COVID-19

After a week of two of freaking out and moving from that to acceptance, I think a healthy next step is to look at what good can come of being isolated and at home. I know that for some this means a total loss of income and for other this means a total loss of cherished routines, connection, space from children and partners, and so much more. Yes, there is often much loss going on right now. But there can and should be some good things that can come from this.

I think you can look at the next 30 days (Virginia just implemented a 30 day lock down so I’m going to use that as an example). I’ve personally be social distancing for nearly two weeks already so this will be about 7 weeks of social distancing. Gulp.

#1 – Stop feeding your mind with scenarios of doom, virus statistics, and negative input without also consciously feeding it an equal amount of uplifting and positive input to help you maintain your mental health.

Of course you’re going to want to stay connected to what’s going on. But if you spend an hour on FB or Insta and an hour researching the daily statistics, then you’ll also need to spend two hours on positive input. That’s four hours a day which is nearly impossible so cut out the time you’re spending researching the doom and gloom and on social media. Instead, cut it down to one hour and then spend one hour a day on the positive angle. I suggest spending a half hour a day listening to Brooke Castillo’s podcasts where she’s helping put what’s happening into perspective through describing what the brain does in times of danger and stress and ways to reframe the problem. Highly recommend! Then find another 30 minutes of uplifting content, from Marie Forleo to Martha Beck to sitting in meditation and quieting your mind.

You can also plug into the Mystery and the Divine for 30 minutes or longer using the techniques I wrote about in this post. All of it will help your mind from going all flight or fight on you.

#2 – Set up a goal for the next 30 days that you want to accomplish.

For me, I’ve decided that because I can no longer head out and do my daily yoga, I will use this next 30 days to build up my home practice.

I’ll be honest in that, although I’ve spent years practicing yoga, I don’t actually have any of the pose sequences memorized. I just rely on my teachers to guide me and keep me moving. But now, I’m going to learn a 90 minute sequence by heart so that I can have the sequences memorized when I return to group classes when this ends. I’ll start with surya namaskara A, then B, then C (the sun salutations), then some balancing poses, some stretching poses and end with shivasana.

I love balancing half moon and wounded deer poses so I’ll be sure those and some of my faves and my least faves are included.

I have some old injuries and I’m going to add in some strengthening routines so I can strengthen and stretch my core muscles, including my core, my psoas, my hip flexors. A recent visit to a physical therapist revealed that I haven’t been engaging my transverse abdonminis muscle (TVA) so I’m going to slow down with my yoga and exercise routines to ensure I’m engaging my TVA.

I’m also going to prioritize ensuring healthy eating habits because I know that I have a tendency to eat out of stress and boredom. So even if I don’t lose any weight over the next month, I can at least not gain weight.

#3- Notice What Habits and Mindsets You Have That No Longer Serve You

So I’ve begun to dig into the positives that can be revealed by this time of slowing down. I see how much I’ve rushed around in my life trying to get the kids here, this shopping done there, and meet self-imposed deadlines. And none of it was required. I see that even when this is over I can slow down and let some of the busy-ness go.

What have you noticed about your life that you can see changing?

Yes, this quarantine can have some positive outcomes too, (besides the health one).

Hugs to us all.

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Yoga in Bali and the Joy of Sticking with Something

Ganesha in the garden with koi pond

2nd class at the Yoga Barn, with Malika

I arrived in Ubud, Bali on Jan 14, 2019. I don’t know exactly when but it was just a few days later that I started practicing at the Yoga Barn

Yoga Barn class upstairs with Ganesha

My first class at the Yoga Barn with Chris Fox

. The Yoga Barn is one of the most popular yoga studios in Bali, if not THE most popular. The morning classes are normally completely packed with up to 65 students in a class. The check in process can be quite impersonal but I kept coming day after day, 6 days a week most weeks. The staff became more friendly and I got to know the teachers. Some I immediately clicked with and some were quite off putting for me but there are so many classes that it’s easy to keep trying new teachers or stick with your faves. Lots of other students became familiar too and it started to feel like an easy to support routine.

Yoga studio beautifully set up

Yoga during my 2nd trip to Nusa Lembongan

I was so amazed and thrilled those first several weeks at the global reach of all of the teachers; Swedish/American, Jamaican, Spanish, German, Venezuelan, Japanese, Balinese, Canadian, and American. I worked hard to understand their accents and learned to love their varying emphases about breath, movement, rigorous adherence to yoga dogma or listening to your own body.

At first, I was terribly out of shape.  I was tight with weak muscles and hadn’t been serous about my yoga in months. I have a pelvic injury from carrying the twins (called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) that I was ignoring for the past 4+ years. It caused me so much pain but it’s hard to not walk a lot with twin toddlers. So I ignored the pain and as a result, my hip and abs got incredibly weak but I was able to manage most days.  But yoga helps with the pain and tightness so I knew the yoga would help me strengthen and heal my hips, pelvis, and abs.. The first few moths of yoga were so hard. I was 50 years old and I was trying to get my body back in shape. It was so hard. Did I mention it was so hard? Sometimes, I thought I would pass out from trying to keep up with flipping my dog and transitioning to plan and doing my umpteenth chaturanga.

Mt. Agung

Mt. Agung on the way to yoga from Nusa Lembongan

Sometimes all I focused on was how much less flexible and strong I was compared to where I had been years before. And I sometimes I focused on my progress. I pushed myself so hard when I focused on the gap between where I had been and where I was. But that wasn’t healing my hips. Instead I realized I needed to just accept that I have an actual injury. My pelvis is hurt. I have tight and weak muscles as a result. And when I accepted what is, I stopped pushing past the pain and have started to strengthen the muscles. I’ve seen tremendous progress since I slowed down to speed up.

What I see now, 6 months into a consistent and rigorous yoga practice is how casual I have been about my practice in the past. I would reach a certain level and then allow a trip or something else pull me away from my practice. My practice was not a priority for me and my progress was slow, as a result. I see now that it takes time and consistency to become a better yogini.  And by time, that means it might take years to get to where I want to be.  I still can’t do a bind. I can’t jump back into plank or forward into a standing forward fold.  I can’t do any inversion except shoulder stand. But how you do anything is how you do everything. I’d get to a certain level of mastery and back off.

Now, I’m so close to my first bind. So close. At first I wasn’t trying to do a bind. I just kept doing the full expression of the pose at a more basic level and then one day I tried to do a bind and I could feel how close my hands were. It inspired me. Now I try to bind whenever I’m in certain poses, like in Parsvakonasana.

I’m also practicing jumping through and jumping back. It’s fun to try it. I also decided to practice headstands by doing figure Ls on the wall to work up to a handstand. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was so much easier than it had been months ago. I’m practicing with dolphin pose to work up to Pincha Mayurasana.  It’s exciting to do something so new.  And to see

Yoga studio beautifully set up

Yoga during my 2nd trip to Nusa Lembongan

progress. It might take me a year or 5. But I’m willing to give the time. What a sense of accomplishment to finally experience a different level in my yoga poses. I can feel my psoas and QL muscles tighten and give and maybe one day they won’t be so tight.

And something has clicked in me about yoking breath to movement. One breath, one movement. It just wasn’t important to me in my practice in the US.  Another serious work in progress is staying present while on the mat. Now I also dedicate my practice to staying present so I can practice and stay present on my own mat without worrying how well (or worse) others are doing theirs.

Ganesha outside the yoga shala from my second trip to Nusa Lembongan

Ganesha at the yoga shala

And again really, that old adage is so spot on, so beautifully accurate: how you do anything is how you everything. And at the start of my 2019 renewed yoga practice, I was rushing through my poses, breathing hard, totally trying to keep up with my teachers and fellow yogis rather than feeling my way through my own routine.

Now that I’ve stuck with a very regular and committed yoga practice, yes, I’m stronger, more flexible, and able to remember the yoga routines without as many cues from the teacher.

More importantly, now I see that my breathwork is so critical to a focused and loving yoga practice, that my transitions are as important as my poses,

Yoga on Nusa Lembongan

Yoga wherever I go

and keeping my focus on what’s happening on my own mat is far more helpful in becoming a “better” yogini, and a better person.

Recently, as I was noticing that my transitions are so much flowing and I’m almost- so close- to achieving a bind -MY FIRST- and my focus was on my breath. No matter where my family travels, where I can practice my yoga is an important part of the planning process. Yoga is incredibly important to me now and by making it a priority, others see how important it is to me and expect me to take the time to practice my yoga. It’s no longer a negotiation.

I’m so grateful. It feels so much more loving to practice this way. And I’m such a better yogini!

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The 7 Chakras- Working on the Root Chakra

Image thanks to Rodessa4

Clarity Through Action

As Marie Forleo likes to say, clarity comes from action, not learning. If you’re anything like me, you read about the chakras but didn’t actually work on any of them the first time around. But getting clear, it’s in the doing, not the reading about doing.

So let’s take another, deeper look at how to heal the root chakra. In today’s and Thursday’s post, I’m going to create a 10 minute routine in which you can ground yourself with stillness and some serious self-love, through affirmations and movement. I absolutely know that trying to create another daily ritual for ourselves can be screamingly difficult, but taking care of yourself is a priority.

Creating Your 10 Minute Routine- Action

For the first 10 minute routine, you need to commit to the 10 minutes for just two days. Can you do that? I think you can and here’s how. First, create a game plan that you can really live with. So create 10 minutes for yourself for just Wednesday and Thursday morning, afternoon, or evening, which ever suits you best.

But truly figure out and commit to the 10 minutes you’ll take for yourself on Wednesday and Thursday.  And everyone can find 10 minutes in their day. So visualize it. Is it first thing? Right after you exercise in the morning? Is it just after you shower? Is it at lunch, before you’ve eaten? Is it the final 10 minutes before you go to bed?

On a Personal Note – My Routine

For me, my routine is in the morning. I get up and exercise immediately. No negotiating with myself, I just get up and exercise. Then after my blood is flowing and I’m no longer feeling the least bit sleepy due to the exercise, I meditate for 20 minutes.  Exercise and meditation- every day. It goes hand in hand for me.

But no matter when you do it, commit to your 10 minutes for just two days. Commit to doing imperfectly.

Root Chakra – 10 Minutes of Healing

Find Stillness/Grounding

  • Meditate for 5 minutes each day. Put the timer on your phone for 5 minutes and then release. If you’re new to it or not that good at it, don’t worry. Everyone starts from this place. The monkey mind wants to reign supreme and we all, all of us, get caught thinking rather that meditating. Just release that too. As you may know, there are plenty of ways to meditate. The important thing is to release thoughts as they come and be in stillness for just these 5 minutes.
  • After your 5 minutes of imperfect meditation, say the following loving-kindness affirmations to yourself -three times. This should take less than 1 minute. But put your heart into it and really bless yourself with these loving affirmations.
    • May I be well.
    • May I know peace.
    • May I be free from suffering

Bless Yourself and Your Day

Take the remaining 4 minutes and bless yourself and your day. Don’t worry if you’re not religious, or if you are. I don’t mean it in the traditional way.

I got this from Christie Marie Sheldon‘s, who’s Love or Above– in reference to David Hawkin‘s Power versus Force, I highly recommend.

  1. First, close your eyes and connect to your higher power – whatever that feels like for you. Let this higher power permeate through your entire body.
  2. Hold up your hands, bringing them together and then apart again and again until you can feel a ball of energy between your hands.
  3. Imbue the ball of energy with light and love and then naming it your day.
  4. Call on all the things you want for your day, including abundance, focus, loving feelings, power to complete projects, guidance from your guides, charisma, peace, restfulness – whatever you need to help you have the best day. Seed them into your day.
  5. Then bless this day with love, life, and source energy. Bless it 3 to 4 times, with feeling.
  6. Finally, put the ball of light into your heart chakra and have it suffuse your entire being with elements you seeded your day with.  Breathe it in.

And then enjoy your day, feeling grounded and peaceful!


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Just Do It –

Photo by mikebaird

I normally exercise 5 to 6 days a week and I really love moving my body, getting my head clear, and –of course – the infusion of endorphins after a nice effort.   For years I’ve been running/biking and doing some weight lifting in a “go with the flow” style.  However, I noticed during my May rock climbing debut that my strength, especially in my arms, is not where I’d like it to be. So I’ve been slowly implementing a strength program to help me get those toned and strong arms I’ve always wanted.

To that end, I’m starting a new exercise program called “Core Performance”.  It has an equal focus on mobility, flexibility, strength, endurance, and regeneration [rest]. So it calls for lots of varying types of exercises and I wanted to see if its focus beyond steady state cardio would help me loosen up, get stronger, all while doing a wide variety of exercises. I’m on week 4 which is the week where the program seems to ratchet up the intensity, but in a good way.

I already had my “off” day on Monday so there isn’t another rest day for me this week, according to both the Core Performance and my own preferences. But yesterday, I got up late and decided to do exercise in the evening.  Well, by about 10am I talked myself out of my plan and instead made the decision that I was going to be just too tired at the end of the day, that I deserved the time at the end of the day to relax, and get to bed on time, and begin anew tomorrow.

I noticed that as the day wore on, I began to become really unhappy with the fact that I had missed my work out for Wednesday. I was getting downright mopey about having missed it despite being on the new Core Performance program, my commitment to it, and that I got up late.  And then just as I was getting ready to leave the office, I realized –truly woke up to the fact- that I could just do what I had intended to do and actually keep my commitment on to exercise most days of the week. I was immediately happier, walking toward the car with a light step. I went straight to the gym and had a great workout, and I wasn’t the least bit tired. It was just all in my head, that little yet convincing voice that says just relax, don’t stress out, you can do it tomorrow, and then tomorrow and then tomorrow and before you know it, a week, or a month, or even a year  has gone by, without having done what you set out to do.

I marveled that I was bummed about a decision I had made and kept making throughout the day when I could have turned it around by simply noticing the effect that not following through on my commitment had on me and changing my perspective.  And getting to the gym that evening felt like a true victory for me, so I also made sure to acknowledge myself for finishing what I said I’d do.

Which leads me into what I’ll be writing about next, Completing the Task.

Are there times when you’ve almost put off what you intended to do but were able to get back on track?

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Trying Something Out of the Ordinary – I loved it!

I’ve been exercising regularly for most of my life. My Mom put me in various sports when I was a child, including gymnastics and soccer. I tried a lot of them but only soccer held my interest. I loved loved loved playing soccer and ended up playing at least one season a year from ages 6 to 18 years old. After graduating high school, I timidly tried out for my college’s soccer team but felt it was too tight knit a group and I felt quite intimidated and not very welcome, and truth be told, I was in relatively terrible shape. I remember being so winded during the sprint exercise and I definitely felt my “teammates” sense of disapproval at my time trials. Nonetheless, I made the team but with my conditioning, I never started a game. And with the continued sense of being an outsider, I just stopped showing up at practices and I’m not sure if anyone ever minded. I didn’t get any follow up, “where are you, Kate?” phone calls.

I soon began to miss the exercise however and started to run around the track, going for time rather than speed as in I’ll run for 30 minutes rather than saying I’ll run 3 eight-minute miles. I find it hilarious, in retrospect, to think of the start of my solo sports adventures, to think of me exercising in my sophomore year as I would get up in the morning, shower, spend a good 45 minutes on my hair, getting it shellacked all to hell with hair spray and then walk 40 minutes to campus only to run another 45 minutes and shower again, taking care not to ruin my “do”, in which nary a hair had moved since first shellacking it more than two hours prior.

I became, at age 18, a runner and I loved it. I had no plan, no goal, just the love of exercise, the sport, and being out “there”.

Nearly 10 years later, while I was serving in Peace Corps in West Africa, Benin to be specific, after close to two years of being away, I came home to attend my sister’s wedding. Side note, thanks again Chris for the miles on Delta and for making it possible for me to attend my sister’s wedding! While in California at my parent’s place, the ancestral manse, and going through monster amounts of culture shock, I decided to go running to clear my head and get grounded. My sister-in-law, who’d also flown in for the wedding – but from Indiana- asked if she could accompany me on my 5 mile run. I was more than a bit surprised as Cathy is a far faster runner than I have ever been and typically ran a sub 7-minute pace. At that time, I was happy with my 9-minute pace. I explained the obvious about my 9-minute pace. I’ll never forget, she said, “No that’s ok, I need to keep pace with a slower runner since I’m not supposed to run fast”. You see, she was 6 months pregnant at the time. So we hit the road, running together the whole time at her easy, breezy 9 minute pace and me realizing that perhaps my 9 minute pace was a big too difficult for me and perhaps I really ran an average of 9.5 minutes. She was enjoying the “slow” run and I was sucking wind. What a great lesson in perspective.

Here I am, 13 years later. I no longer run even a 9 or 9.5 or even a 10 minute pace. I’m down to an 11 minute pace and I’ve been hit with plantar fasciitis too, for the better part of two years. 8 months after having been treated for it, I am now back to running 5 to 6 days a week. But then I thought, what about that life long dream of being in truly peak conditioning? Why continue on my same steady state running/cycle lifestyle? What’s wrong with running with intensity for shorter periods of time and working my way up to 30 minutes again but at a greatly increased average speed? Let’s try it!

So last week, I took my scheduled 15 minutes of running and hit the treadmill instead. As I was beginning my run, I wasn’t even sure I could run a 7 minute mile for even a few seconds. I got nervous that maybe my plan was too ambitious and began thinking “but what if I can’t do it?” And instead of chickening out, I thought, we’ll know soon enough! You know what, I can run a 7-minute pace – for 30 seconds at a time. What a revelation! How fun! It was a lovely run. Three minutes warm up at a 10 minute pace, and then 10 minute of intervals of 30 seconds at 7 minutes and 1 minute at a 9.40pace, ending with 3 minutes of the 9.40 pace.

I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to be able to run a full mile at the seven minute pace but I’m excited to try it out.

If you don’t try it, how do you know you can’t do it? And as Steve Pavlina says, start with acts of courage that fit your current level of courage ability and begin training yourself to become more courageous with more bite sized efforts – appropriate to your level of training. It feels great!

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