Thursday, November 25, 2010

Yoga for Holiday Sanity

Blessed day all ~

Holidays are a wonderful time of year spent with family and friends, however they can also cause stress and anxiety. Bring your yoga practice into your holiday by incorporating these simple tips:

1. breathe deeply - when we get anxious about food, family, traveling we often have shallow breathing. Breathing deeply can help center our focus, reduce stress and help us be present in the moment.

2. be mindful of what you eat and drink - the holidays bless us with an array of food and beverages that are delicious, but packed full of added calories, sugar and fat that can make us feel sluggish and lethargic. Gravitate to the vegetables first and fill yourself up on energy food - food that comes from the earth (vegetables, oats, range free turkey/chicken). Your body will thank you.

3. yoga for circulation and stress management - don't have time to get to a class, try these sequences to help you get through the moment, day or weekend:
If you cannot open the attachment, focus on a simple sun salutation or simple Vinyasa flow.

Simple Vinyasa Flow:
child's pose
cat pose
cow pose
downward facing dog
downward facing dog
child's pose
downward facing dog
child's pose
(repeat 5-6 times)

Many many blessings to you and your family. Safe travels :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Common Misconceptions About Yoga

By Timothy McCall, M.D.

If you are suffering from a chronic condition or looking for an overall preventive health plan, you may want to consider yoga. But before you embark, there are a number of misconceptions that I’d like to clear up:

1. Yoga is only for stress relief. Yoga is indeed a powerful stress buster. Even a single session can make you feel calmer. Since stress is a factor in a host of medical conditions--from high blood pressure to infertility--yoga can indeed help. But yoga is much more. A regular yoga program can strengthen muscles, deepen breathing, improve balance and enhance flexibility. Yoga has been shown in studies to help people with asthma, arthritis, depression, heart disease and many other problems. And even if a condition like cancer isn’t caused by stress, getting diagnosed and undergoing treatment can be stressful and yoga can, at the very least, help with that.

2. Yoga is a religion. Although yoga came out of ancient India it is not a form of Hinduism or a covert way to propagate any religion. In fact, yoga is happily practiced by Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Moslems, atheists and agnostics alike. There is certainly a spiritual side to yoga but you don’t have to subscribe to any particular beliefs to benefit from it. If chanting Om or some other aspect isn’t for you, I’ve never seen a teacher object to a student skipping it.

3. Only the young and supple need apply. In India, I saw yoga therapy centers treat people with all kinds of physical, mental and emotional disabilities. It has been used successfully on schizophrenics, the mentally retarded and people who are bound to bed or wheelchairs. All that’s required is some mental awareness and the will to give it a try.

4. Yoga therapy is the same as taking a yoga class. Most yoga therapy is done one-on-one or in small groups with experienced teachers. The average yoga teacher in a health club, however, isn’t likely to know enough to be able to do therapeutic yoga safely and well. While general classes may be great preventive medicine, many are too demanding for someone with a serious medical condition. If you have any doubts, be sure to speak with the teacher and ask about her yoga experience, what techniques she employs and her experience in working with people like you.

5. Yoga is a quick fix. Every single yoga expert I met in India stressed the need for the student to practice, even if only for a few minutes a day. The effect is cumulative over a long period of time as you slowly gain more control over your body and mind.

Yoga may be strong medicine but it is slow medicine. And you get back in proportion to what you put in.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Research Says Yoga Changes Brain Chemistry

Yogis have known for centuries that a yoga practice makes us feel calm and centered. But science is finally catching up with what we've all experienced on the mat and the cushion: yoga changes our brain chemistry, which in turn helps improve mood and decrease anxiety.

A new study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine reports that yoga triggers the release of the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a chemical in the brain that helps to regulate nerve activity. The findings establish a new link between yoga, higher levels of GABA, and improved mood.

The study, led by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine (the lead researcher is a yogi!), brings us one step closer toward harnessing yoga's power of prevention and relaxation. Who knows: maybe this can lead to a wider acceptance of yoga in the medical community as a tool to help people struggling with anxiety and depression. Prescription for yoga, anyone?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Blessed day all ~

Hoping this day finds you full of grace, peace and gratitude for all that you have in your life - possessions, people, health, faith and love. I want to share some information that a dear friend, Roz Usheroff, passed along as it is poignant this time of year as we celebrate and give thanks.

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – 13th century German philosopher Meister Eckhart.

Gratitude is not a new concept for any of us. To this day, leadership books echo Eckhart’s advice. I invite you to consider gratitude from three perspectives: a way to increase joy in good times; a way to lessen pain in bad times; and a way to build your brand by giving voice to the gratitude you naturally feel in your heart. Because as novelist GB Stern said, “Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.”

Be grateful in good times.

Thankfulness is a great equalizer. In good times, it leads us to acknowledge that our success does not belong to us alone. See your success and good fortune in the context of the support, love and encouragement you have received over the years. Gratitude does not take away anything from you. Instead, I believe, it increases the joy you can gain from your success.

It is easy to see who understands the role of others in their success when listening to acceptance speeches at an awards dinner or watching the Academy Awards.

Compare James Cameron’s declaration he was, “king of the world,” when he received the Oscar for the movie ”Titanic,” with Jamie Foxx’seloquent and moving speech of gratitude when he won an Oscar for his performance as Ray Charles in “Ray”, which ended with a tearful tribute to his grandmother. Both speeches are on YouTube and are worth the study in contrast.

Those who are genuine in their gratitude toward family, friends and mentors move us when they speak. And in that moment, a connection is created.

Be grateful in difficult times.

Gratitude helps us maintain perspective when we are faced with adversity. In the face of losing a job, a promotion or a contract, we can still be grateful for the family, friends and loved ones who are part of our lives. In the face of personal loss due to illness, death or another tragedy, we can be grateful for those around us or a job that gives us structure and meaning during a difficult time.

Just as you have a professional network, you must also be part of a resiliency circle of close family and friends who are there for each other when things are good or not so good. Once on the other side of personal or professional tragedy, be sure to go back and thank those who stood by you on your darkest days.

Giving voice to gratitude.

There are many ways to give voice to your gratitude. Before doing so, think about the person you are thanking. Is he a private person? Would she appreciate public praise? Would a nice lunch together be appreciated or awkward for them? Observe how they thank others, as that is likely how they would prefer to be thanked.

Think about some of the nicest, most meaningful “thank you's” you have received in your life. What made them memorable?

Without prescribing any one way to say thank you, here are some ideas to consider:

• Make it personal. Hand-written notes - No matter how virtual the world becomes, there is something deeply personal about a note penned in one’s own handwriting on personal stationary.
• Choose your words. Don't just dash off the first thing that comes to your head. Take some time to craft your words – whether spoken or written – in a way that will hold meaning for the recipient.
• Pick up the phone. Ah, the telephone -- that semi-useless instrument on your desk beside your computer. It can be easier to impart sincerity and emotion with your voice than with a keyboard.
• Get creative. There are many online tools that can help you create personalized mementos from photos of a shared event or create some other symbolic way to memorialize a victory or milestone.
• Give a small gift. It is important that any thank-you gifts be appropriate and larger in meaning than in actual dollar value. You don't want your recipient to mistake a token of your thanks with payment for services rendered. For example, a Starbucks card for a devoted coffee drinker along with a personal note might be a winning combination.
• Give the gift of time. Two friends of mine stopped exchanging gifts a few years ago and started spending a day together on their birthdays. It has evolved into a tradition they both cherish.

There are as many ways to say thank you as there are reasons to say it. This holiday season, let family, friends and colleagues know how much you care. Live your life with gratitude; not with regrets because today is what truly counts.

With blessings and gratitude,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Integrity - the Glue that Binds

Today I listened to a woman business leader in the insurance industry who spoke at the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) Indiana Chapter event regarding the importance of balancing family and career. Lori Beer is the executive vice president of Enterprise Business Services for WellPoint, Inc., a mother of 3 and and spouse to a loving husband. Great talk with some key takeaways I wanted to share:

- Your integrity is key in all aspects of life. Lead with integrity and hard work, and your intentions become clearer.
- Lead with integrity during the hard times when everything and everyone seems to be against you. It keeps you centered and on track.
- Prioritize the important things at work and home. Let go of the little things that don't really matter when it comes to the big picture.
- Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then tend to others. We often hear this directive given on airplanes when traveling with children, however, the deeper meaning behind it is poignant - give yourself a break so you have the energy to be a better mother, spouse and leader to others.
- Be present; be here and now whether at home or work. It is all about your full attention more than time. Put down the Blackberry. Listen and engage with others, at home and work.
- Embrace change. You will be defined as a leader by how much you embrace change.
- Attitude is key in how you embrace change. Check it - often.
- Only you can define what works for you.
- Community Service and giving back - define what it means to you to give back, and involve your children in the experience.
- Follow your shadow as a leader - walk the talk.

"......Leadership is about taking people where they need to go." - Roselyn Carter

Blessings ~

Friday, November 5, 2010

Life is a journey, not a destination.

Hoping this day gives you patience for the gifts that will come and develop over time. While answers and direction are often provided, they may not reveal themselves when we want them to.

Great thoughts from a loving, supportive, charismatic, and dynamic mentor - Roz Usheroff. I had the privilege of meeting her this past week at a leadership conference in Philadelphia for the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association. It is a must share:

• Be true to your true talents. If your natural gifts are not a focal point of your career, then you must reassess your strategies and focus.

• Surround yourself with people who will champion you. This includes coaches, mentors, role models, and good friends.

• Adopt an attitude of gratitude and true humility. No one gets ahead without the help of others and without helping others.

• Look at failure as an opportunity to get a free education. Learn how to rise above the obstacles.

• Take time to celebrate all the small things. Your character isnot defined during the happy times but rather during those times when the roadblocks seem permanent.

• Leave a legacy that honors you as a person, a colleague, a friend, a loved one, a parent, a humanitarian, and a person of substance.

• If you only measure yourself by the money you make and your job title, you will always shortchange your fulfillment.

The Usheroff Institute is committed to making a difference in your industry. If you are interested in learning more about tapping into being remarkable or our other programs, please contact Jan at or visit their website at for an extensive overview of program offerings.

Blessings and Namaste,