Finding Balance … By Taking a Look Inside

by Run Jodi

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.


I’m completely convinced that the world has gone crazy. I want to watch the news because I desire to be informed but the news can be inconsistent and frustrating, just like social media. As soon as you learn how to change the channel, turn the tv off and scroll past the madness, know that peace begins with you. Realize that collectively we can change the world, but it all has to start within and, for me, this has been my saving grace – Meditation. 

Before you hit the X in the top corner, hear me out…

In the past, I heard the word and saw an image of myself sitting upright for an extended period of time. My first thought: ‘my neck and back are going to be bothering me after about 10 minutes’, other thoughts include my mind wandering or ‘how am I going to sit still for an extended period of time?’ So I was talking myself out of doing it before I actually even tried!

I know of people who meditate daily and can just turn the switch on and off – that’s not me. I’ve tried to get in the habit many times with not much success. And yet, it still kept calling me. In my yoga training, the subject comes up a lot and those that practice regularly rave about it. 

But how to get started? If you’re like me, I’m not the type…and I don’t even know what that means, but I do know that I would benefit from it and I think most people would. 

In a lot of ways, it’s like exercise, you have to choose the type that’s right for you. You have to find a time that works for your schedule. You have to have the right place as well, it could be as simple as your bed or a big closet or a corner in your office. I have a space set aside that is in front of a window. Being in that spot always brings me peace. 

Next, If you’re a brand new meditator, begin with a ‘guided meditation’ and choose how much time you are able to set aside. I started with 10 minutes and I searched on YouTube for guided meditations that I felt were a good fit for me.

Here are a few examples that you can try…and they’re free. My favorites are bookmarked and I revisit them often:

Positive Energy 10 minute guided meditation
Keeping Positive 10 minute guided meditation
10 Minute Mindful Meditation

Apps can be customized for your individual needs. Below is the link to an article I found with recommendations for the best apps to date. Note: they all have free trial periods and then require monthly or yearly membership. I’ve also found that even the ones advertised as FREE have costs after a free trial period.

The Chopra Center (online and app version) offers a free 21 day mediation. The meditations are lead by Deepak Chopra. I love his voice. After you complete the 21 day guided mediation, you have the choice to purchase other packages.

Live meditation classes on sight are my favorite. There is nothing like going to a yoga studio and taking a live class focused on meditation. Of course there are others in the room which gives a slightly different experience than that of being alone, but the time and the space are controlled. In many ways it’s easier to stop the mind chatter or be distracted. 

Check out your local studio. Most yoga studios offer some type of guided meditation.  Baby steps, baby steps….. 

May you find peace, stillness and health.

Finding Balance … and Silver Linings

Our happiness is certainly mixed in with the tragedies of life. You have to find the lemonade. You have to find the silver lining in the middle of everything that happens in life.

Chandra Wilson

by Jodi

Writing this post has been on the back burner for me for these last few weeks. I kept holding back, waiting for things to normalize, and hoping for some good news that I could write about. Instead, circumstances changed every day or so and the tragedies and losses kept piling up. It was really starting to heighten my anxiety levels and block my creativity when I had an amazing “Ah Ha” moment after a short breathing meditation practice.

What if – instead of thinking about all the loss and changes and uncertainty – I focused instead on all the silver linings I could find in my life? So, I’ve come up with a list of good things that have come out of being socially distanced for the past 7 weeks.

Time with Layla.

We adopted a 5 month old puppy, Layla, on February 10th and we’ve had ALL this time at home with her to help her get comfortable and feel safe, to potty-train her, to ensure she’s not tearing up our furniture. It’s been a wonderful gift to be here to watch her grow – from 43 to 58.2 pounds since Feb 10th! I love watching her discover new things for the first time. One evening as we were going outside to potty (she’s still afraid of the dark and won’t go out alone) our neighbor’s son was playing his drums. Layla stopped, completely puzzled look on her face, and cocked her head as she listened for a few minutes. She had never heard such a thing before and was utterly fascinated. It was a really special moment, seeing the world so fresh and new through her eyes, and I might’ve missed out on that in the hustle and bustle of my normal every day life.

Healing Time for my Hip Injury.

My hip issues started as a clicking sound in 2013 and progressed to a popping sensation, pain, numbness and locking up after walking more than 1/2 mile. At the start of the year it was bad enough to impact my daily living and I’ve since seen several doctors and had a few tests revealing that I am suffering from adhesive capsulitis of the hip. It’s a common condition in the shoulder, sometimes called frozen shoulder, but it’s very rare in the hip. To heal, I need lots of anti-inflammatories, ice, heat, physical therapy, aquatic therapy, manual therapy, and most of all TIME. This unfortunate pandemic has given me plenty of time away from the business of my normal routine and is helping me to heal. For that, I’m thankful.

Time to Support Family.

Fortunately for us, my sister and her family live right across the street so we are quarantining together. Since my sister is an Emergency Room Nurse, she has continued to work 12 hour shifts 3 days each week. My niece, who is 6 years old, no longer goes to school. Instead, she is completing kindergarten online which is as insane as it sounds. Finding busy work for 6 year olds to do is probably as frustrating for the teachers as it is for us to get her TO DO her busy work. As a result, my poor niece is completely bored and since I’m home recovering, we get to have play dates together almost daily. I get my pool exercises done and she practices her swimming. I’m so fortunate to be home right now to help my sister with day care so she can stay on the front lines and not have to worry about my niece. Plus, I get time with my niece which is definitely a win for me!

Developing an Online Business Presence.

We’ve had several clients move away and ask for a way to continue working out with us through the years. So, I’ve wanted for quite some time to record some videos and build up our library or ideally record our live classes to share. There was never enough time to set it all up or enough extra money to invest in the lights, microphones, video equipment, editing software, etc. Well, this unexpected business closure forced us to stop trying to make perfectly polished and professional videos and instead just work with what we already have. With just an iPhone and my amateur editing skills, no microphones or lights, we have produced 17 days worth of online fitness and yoga content for our clients. Turns out that when you let go of perfection, you can still create something special and I would never have known that if we were not in this unusual situation.

There’s also been an astounding amount of projects around the yard and house that my husband has completed in the past few weeks and I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some terrific colleagues and share the work of some dear friends and amazing teachers. Plus, I’ve been in touch with some family and friends that I haven’t spoken to in quite some time. So, all in all, there have been some really terrific by-products to the drastic lifestyle changes that we’ve all had to make over the past 7 weeks. I’ve just had to move aside some of the frustrations, annoyances, inconveniences and sadness to find them.

How about you? Could the Universe be encouraging you to develop some skills – like patience, resilience and compassion? I know I’ve been really focusing on growing and developing my patience, tolerance and self-love skills over the past few weeks. What nugget of hope can you mine for yourself? Can you find any positive developments in your current situation if you look hard enough? I hope, on your most trying days, you can shift your focus and find the blessing that’s hidden amongst all the rest.

Finding Balance … and Connection

by Erika

Compassion is our deepest nature. It arises from our interconnection to all things.

Buddhist Proverb

The other day the sun came out and I decided to catch up on my landscaping.  I bent over to pull what I thought was a weed, but it was firmly rooted and took a bit more oomph than anticipated.  As I kept pulling, I realized the weed was actually a long strand of grass that had made several different connection points throughout my lawn.  The yellowed end I initially tugged on had just begun to die, giving the impression of a weed.  The grass dotted its way across my yard, sometimes popping up in areas I didn’t think it belonged, but overall contributing to its vivacity.  My lawn is nothing to write home about, it’s not grandiose or fancy.  It’s a small, simple lawn and this strand made a difference to it.

I have practiced yoga for a while now, but only recently started really diving in to what it means to live mindfully.  In my limited education thus far, interconnectedness has become an important topic.  The word yoga actually means “to join or unite”1.  Through my yoga practice I have been able to slowly lower my ever-protective walls and start building more than just a healthier physical way of living, but an improved way of interacting with my community. I have allowed myself to begin to connect with members of our yoga tribe and start to build relationships – a dreaded word until interconnectedness was put in my path.  My closest family member is in Chicago, my friends are all married or live in different states, and I am a busy single Mom.  It is a dangerous recipe that can leave you feeling as if you are on an island.  All of us have our story of what could make our lives lonely, or difficult, if we let it.  We each have the choice to let the ends turn yellow, or we can put ourselves out there and try to connect, even if sometimes we end up in a spot we didn’t intend on.  Connecting with some of the individuals at practice is another way yoga practice improves my life.  It has made the word relationship taste a little bit sweeter.  When you feel like you matter to the group it makes you want to keep showing up.  There is no lawn without the grass.

Outside of my interactions at practice, yoga has begun to weave its way through my everyday life, as well.  When I get cut off in traffic, I try to refocus on my breath and relax; when I use a public restroom I am reminded of proper chair form – send that booty back!; when there is discord, instead of reaction or justification, I simply try to send loving, healing energy to that part of my body or mind, or even that person.  I fail all the time, but more importantly, I keep trying to connect what I learn in practice to the rest of my world.  I also often consider the events that led to me being able to attend practice.  Space to have the class must be available, someone has to make the equipment (or make the machine that makes the equipment), and someone had to put their time and effort in to training and certification, and then have the desire and means to lead practice.  Another group of people must want to learn.  Innumerable decisions have to be made, and all come together for the gift of yoga practice to be put in our paths.  It truly takes a village.  

Every time your feet connect to the mat, you are not just connecting to a workout for your body. You are connecting to your tribe, your community and your world.  It is so easy to get stranded on an island with everything we load up on to our plates.  It is helpful to know we have the choice to show up and become part of something bigger.  In the lawn of my life, my little strand of grass is finding new places to connect, and new ways to grow…and man, is it getting greener.  


Finding Balance… by Practicing Balance

Falling out of balance doesn’t matter really, and truly. How we deal with that moment and how we find our way back to center, every day, again and again – that is the practice of yoga … it’s about trusting that you will find your way.

Cyndi Lee

by Run Jodi

One of the first yoga classes I ever attended started with a little breath work, some easy stretching and then a request from the instructor to ‘lift my heels’. At first thought, I didn’t even process the command. I mean I was standing, what’s the big deal? I just lifted my heels up high and ended up taking lots of baby steps forward and back to stay up on my tip toes. I immediately thought, ‘what’s wrong with me?’ Practicing balance or doing balancing exercises to me meant ‘tree pose’ where the yogi is standing on one leg with bottom of the opposite foot pressed agains the support leg or ‘Warrior III’ where the student was taking a bow with one leg lifted behind and arms reaching forward. It didn’t seem right that balance work was as simple as lifting up and balancing on my tippy toes with both feet, but it was and on top of that, I was struggling to do it. 

The instructor looked over at me, and kindly said with a smile,  ‘Balance is the first thing to go’. I honestly think I stopped and scratched my head. I mean, she said it nicely but she surely wasn’t talking to me. I mean – I consider myself young and athletic and she just confirmed the idea that I needed to start working on balance because I was likely to fall and break a part of myself! 

I immediately went home and asked my husband to lift his heels. Yes, a trick question and yes, he struggled which was exactly what I needed to feel better about myself. I mean, that’s what husbands are for anyway. 

Today, as an instructor, I use the pose (tippy toes)  in class all the time. I modify it and fold it and redirect in in any way I can think of and balance has become a very important part of my yoga practice. Although I also love the advanced poses, I always go back to the simple and the basic when I need to feel grounded. 

As simple as lifting the heels, engaging the core, activating the legs and arms, using the breath to balance and lifting the gaze to challenge oneself. Balance postures can be beautiful and impressive, they can be advanced and almost unachievable and they can be simple and beneficial.

As per the Harvard Health Publishing from the Harvard Medical School: 

Balance relies on input from several of the body’s systems, including visual, vestibular, and proprioception. Balance training can do a lot to help keep us on our feet and active.

Ways to work balance into everyday life:

Stand on one leg whenever you’re waiting in line at the theater, bank, or grocery store.

*I prefer to try this at home when I’m doing dishes or folding laundry.

Stand on one leg when brushing your teeth, one minute on one leg  and another minute on the other leg.

**As a dental hygienist, I love this one!

Practice sitting down and getting up without using your hands. 

Practice walking heel toe – that is, like a tightrope walker, placing the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the opposite foot each time you are a step. 

Balance keeps us walking and in control. Balance gives us confidence to chase, climb, reach and react quickly to avoid danger and injury. Balance training is often overlooked when we workout but so very important. 

So, give it a try. Balance trainers such as wobble boards, balance pods, balance discs and balance balls are available easily by a click on Amazon. Check it out OR just try lifting your heels. Remember, balance is the first thing to go…. 😉

Finding Balance … and Weathering the Storm

Always remember you are braver than you believeStronger than you seem. Smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you‘ve ever imagined.

Dr. Seuss

by Danah

It’s nothing new at this point that our lives have all been shaken up at least little bit in the past few months. The best description I’ve read is that we are in different boats in the same storm. My boat happens to contain my husband, myself, my toddler and baby #2 due in October. Being pregnant presents its own challenges with hormones, morning sickness and fatigue. Add a toddler to the mix and it gets a bit more complicated. Now, top it all off with a global pandemic and we’ve got the potential for a storm throwing waves at every side of the boat. 

Just for a little background of my second pregnancy which began before the arrival of COVID-19 to the United States: I began experiencing morning (until night) sickness at about 6 weeks. I broke down and started medication to control some of it, which reduced my nausea and vomiting to ONLY 3 times a day. As time passed and the first trimester ended, I hoped that the sickness would pass, but it didn’t – 14, 16, 20 weeks passed and it didn’t. So acceptance set in that it’s just going to continue. Other complications occurred that made it so I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, pick up my daughter. If guilt for not functioning at full steam hadn’t set in by then; when your 18 month old wants mommy to “up, up,” and you can’t “up” it pretty much broke my heart. 

And finally, all of this in the middle of a time in which self-isolation is the recommendation to keep yourself and your family safe. But I am an essential health care worker, and I have an obligation to my clients to risk my health and the health of my loved ones. So wave #3 hitting the boat comes in the form of anxiety. In the middle of a rocking boat, in the middle of what feels like a hurricane, how does one find balance? I wish I had the answer wrapped in a nice package and topped with a bow, but the truth is – it’s not simple. It’s messy. You cry; you lose your cool; you go through a gambit of emotions and you get knocked down, sometimes feeling like you’ll never get up. But you will. The storm will pass and you will be able to see the shore.

Whatever your story, whatever your conditions, something that might help keep your footing in the toughest of seas is to ask for what you need. You would be surprised by how much help you will get. Learn to accept help if that’s not something you’re used to. Say “no” to what you can’t commit to. Now is not the time to over extend. Give yourself a break. By a break, I mean, forgive yourself for not being perfect – this is not your normal environment. Your storm may not be over, mine isn’t, but don’t forget that beyond the clouds and rain there is dry land.


Finding Balance … and a Different Perspective

by Danah

 “Motherhood is about extending grace…to your kids and to yourself as a parent. It’s about remembering that they are kids but they won’t be forever and this place you are in won’t either. So give yourself grace and *try* to enjoy this season”

Sabrina at

It took a year and 15 days but my first mom shaming moment happened and it didn’t sit all that well with me. Maybe I was just tired or maybe it’s in my nature to be considerate of others and their experience, but whatever it is this insignificant interaction hit me a lot harder than I expected. 

On a Friday evening recently, my husband suggested meeting for dinner after I picked up our baby after work. For some reference, we had gotten through Thanksgiving, the baby’s first birthday a week later, I got sick, then she had Roseola (a common, but a little scary toddlerhood virus), and she had 4 teeth getting ready to burst through her poor little sore gums. She had been on edge and I was run down, so I was already skeptical of how this was going to go. But I really didn’t want to cook and I didn’t feel like frozen pizza again. So we met half way at Olive Garden (a family restaurant). My plan going in was to get some dinner, quickly and painlessly. No lingering over the menu, and I was equipped with enough food and entertainment to hopefully get baby through 45 minutes in a high chair.

They sat us in a booth in the back of a smaller room, settled us in with menus and crayons, which… she’s 1, so she doesn’t quite grasp the whole coloring thing yet, but she likes to try. Things were fine until halfway through dinner when Charlotte was “coloring” and let out a couple of loud (not upset..more excited) shrieks. Three shrieks to be exact. I remember them not because they were all that memorable or out of the ordinary, but they became memorable when an older lady at the next table turned around and very loudly and deliberately told us to “keep that kid quiet!”

At first I was dumbfounded. My husband looked at me and asked if she was serious, because of how seriously she has just scolded us (he was sitting with his back to Scrooge McDuck). Maybe she was joking? No, no… she was at least 80 years old and very serious. I replied, “she’s 1” and muttered something about being old under my breath.

In the moment, I was pissed which is my natural reaction to rude people. But almost immediately something I didn’t expect happened and I completely crumbled inside. I felt the tears rushing to my eyes, and my heart broke. Here’s where the exhaustion of just being “on” non-stop took over. Sheer embarrassment set in over the fact that I was just reprimanded for my baby (being a baby) in the middle of a restaurant. I held back the tears until we finished dinner and I got to my car. But then I cried… for hours. I’d get it together, and lose it again. I couldn’t stop and believe me I tried. I didn’t want to cry, and I wasn’t wallowing or feeing sorry for myself. I kept telling myself that it was so insignificant, and I need thicker skin. And the people around us probably thought that the lady was as ridiculous as we did. They were kind, and told us how adorable they thought our baby was. And I’m sure this won’t be the last time I’ll be on the receiving end of someone else’s negativity at the expense of my child. 
However, my point for sharing is that I’ve been that lady… not to the point that I would openly embarrass someone in public. But I’ve been annoyed by other people’s kids. And I’ve been out with people who are annoyed by children around us, essentially being children. 

Until now, I never knew what it was like being on the receiving end. Frankly – it sucks. It’s terrible having little to no control over what your tiny human, who you are so in love with, does or says at any given moment. As parents, you can only prepare so much for what is going to happen once you step out of the comfort of your own home. Please, please think twice before you make rude and unnecessary comments to other people or just loud enough for others to hear. Because believe me, that Mom on the airplane, in the restaurant, out shopping, wants nothing more than to make it through that flight or meal or whatever without a tantrum, a blow out, an injury or just typical child behavior. And they definitely want everyone else to have a pleasant experience. Making them feel like I felt in the middle of that restaurant doesn’t help anyone, and it definitely won’t “keep that kid quiet”.

Finding Balance … and Discovering Boundaries

If you want to have healthy boundaries with other people, it’s easier if you have them with yourself first.

~ Dr. Anna Kress

by Guest Blogger Erika

Growing up I had a lot of energy and naturally gravitated toward athletics.  I ran cross country, track, and city races with my Dad. I also played volleyball, but gymnastics is what truly dominated my life for over a decade.  Gymnasts are literally scored on who is most perfect.  Straight legs aren’t enough.  My teammates and I would spend hours pushing on our knees, bottoms on the floor with heels raised up a couple inches on a mat to hyper-extend our legs – to make our legs straighter! What is straighter than straight?! Between running and gymnastics I did a lot of damage to my body.  Not only in obvious ways – a torn patella tendon, broken toes, shin splints, constant blisters on my hands and feet, bruises.  I was also pounding on my joints constantly – doing damage to the future me.  Perhaps most importantly, I was driving myself crazy striving to be perfect.   I have never been good with boundaries, or easy on myself.  I never allowed myself to accept second place, or to say “no”. Performing well is what I was good at – it made the people around me happy! Even when my body screamed for me to stop, my desire to please others said “Go! Go! Go!”  I was trained to be straighter than straight and I would make it happen.

My determination to go beyond what is healthy is not reserved for sports.  It bleeds in to my relationships, as well.  In the same way I over extended myself physically, I also jumped through too many hoops for too many years for people that rarely did the same for me.  I was a single Mom working two jobs and helping other people pay their bills; I was writing college papers for others and hadn’t completed my own degree; I was running around at all hours of the night driving my friends to work, and when my tire was flat all I heard was crickets.   I have had to learn many lessons the hard way in my life.  After years of this behavior my body revolted.  I broke out in a full-body rash, I was constantly stressed, I didn’t sleep, I put on weight, and I was in pain.  Mentally, I completely shut down and when, for the first time I had nothing left to give, I lost everyone.  My friends disappeared.  The man I spent six years taking care of didn’t even bother coming home. 

I was driving home one day and passed a sign for yoga practices. Athletics has always been my comfort zone, so I decided to go. It would be a safe bet – of course I would be good at it! I could probably already hold tree pose with my background!  When I showed up for my first class, it was not what I expected.  I had hidden in the corner – always my favorite spot. Jodi started the class by reminding everyone that there were no expectations, no judgements.  She said it was not a competition.  Your practice was your practice, not your neighbor’s practice.  Most importantly to me, she said to be kind to myself.  In the moment she meant to my body, but I know now she meant across every area of my life.  Thoughts, words and actions.  The whole shebang.  

After class I went home and cried on my bathroom floor for an hour.  It was not a sad cry.  To be honest, it wasn’t even a happy cry.  It was a cry of relief.  In one class I had started to learn it was okay to love myself just as I was, laying right there on the bathroom floor.  It hit me that I was jumping through all these hoops for others when I needed to be loving myself.  I pounded my body for years, when I should have been being kind to it – pushing it sometimes, yes, but also knowing when enough was enough and that rest is sometimes the best choice.  I started to learn it is called practice for a reason.

Growing up, my Dad always told me to do my best with what I have, every day.  I used to think that meant performing perfectly.  I have practiced yoga for a few years now and although I am not magically cured, I know now that being good at yoga doesn’t mean being perfect or doing the most difficult move.  It means I know I can choose to say “no” & take child’s pose if my body starts creaking.  I am not a balanced person by nature, but yoga helps me find some balance where things used to be extreme.  It grounds me.  I may still be single, and not all those friends have shown back up, but I love myself.  Through my yoga practice I found a tribe of people that love me, too.  Yoga has helped me appreciate boundaries.  Boundaries keep me safe and healthy – physically and mentally.  Setting boundaries is me loving myself enough to know I don’t have to push too hard, damage my body, or jump through all those hoops to be loveable – to be the best version of me.  Yoga has taught me that having boundaries means my legs can just be straight, they don’t have to be straighter than straight.  

Finding Balance – and Writing Our Story

Life isn’t happening to you; life is responding to you. Life is your call! Every area of your life is your call. You are the creator of your life. You are the writer of your life story. You are the director of your life movie. You decide what your life will be – by what you give out.

~ Rhonda Byrne

Recently, a friend pointed out to me how I often refer to my inability to cook. She reminded me that this is my story – a story I have told myself repeatedly and shared so often with others that it has become part of my reality. The thing is – I actually DO cook and I am not all that bad. I make a mean lasagna and my chili is fabulous. It’s not like I can share the recipe though because they taste a bit different each time I make them. The reason? I hate following a recipe – I find it tedious and boring and if I don’t have a particular ingredient on hand, then I wing it and use a substitute instead. The truth is, actually, that I’m NOT a bad cook. Rather, I simply don’t enjoy cooking for the most part. Sometimes, like today, I whip up two or three dishes and freeze them for later in the week. Generally speaking, it all turns out well and a tasty meal is enjoyed by all. 

Being single into my mid-30’s resulted in me not being overly concerned with making elaborate meals on a regular basis. As a flight attendant, much of my time was spent traveling the globe and enjoying local meals in whichever city I found myself. Once I got home, I normally brought a bottle of wine to a friend’s house for dinner and enjoyed a home cooked meal in exchange. Since I have several friends who really enjoy cooking, it became unnecessary for me to cook. My husband also enjoys cooking so once we married, he took over the majority of the cooking duties. 

The thing is the whole ‘bad cook’ story got me thinking – WHY is that a story I tell myself? WHO does it benefit? HOW is it helping me? And most importantly, WHAT other stories am I telling myself? One fairly insecure friend, in particular, thought of herself as an excellent cook and enjoyed the compliments and gratitude that her guests offered after a good meal. That was her story and if someone else did the cooking, she was critical and irritated. Since I spent a great deal of time with this friend, it benefitted me to let her story dictate my story. She was an excellent cook and I was a bad cook. Subconsciously, it was a win-win, and she got to feel good while I got a good meal. 

Letting others decide what our story should be is a slippery slope, though. If we give the power of our story to others, we are in essence allowing them to shape our self image. Are there stories you have been telling yourself? That you don’t deserve the people or things in your life? That your job, relationship, weight or finances are out of your control? WHY do we internalize these stories? WHERE did these stories come from? HOW are they helping us to be the best version of ourselves? WHO do these stories benefit? WHAT do we gain by believing them? Ask yourself the tough questions and then choose a new story that better represents WHO you are and WHERE you want to go in life. You are the creator of your own story and you have the power to rewrite not just the ending but the whole entire story. Dream big, be creative and start writing!

XOXO, Jodi

Finding Balance – In a Single Breath

Give yourself permission to take time to breathe, to live life, to give, to love, to reflect, to be present. And to just be. – Author Unknown

It’s only happened a few times in my whole life…but when it does, it’s more intense than anything I’ve ever experienced! Muscle spasm, legs cramp….”Charlie Horse”. So, out of nowhere it just hits you. Pain from zero to 10+ in less than one second. An emergency, a red light, sirens and stabbing pain. So I go from a sound sleep to instant ‘try to sit up’ mode and Lamaze breathing. Tiny, very fast breaths, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale… in though the mouth and out through the mouth, pursed lips,  as fast as I can. Involuntarily I’m using my breath to calm my body and the pain. And then in the next few minutes, the muscle calms, the heart rate settles, my husband isn’t freaked out anymore thinking someone is breaking in the house, and I start to think….. Why did I breathe like that? Why did I automatically go to that breath?

The more I thought about it, the more interested I got in the ‘why’ of it all. The healing and calming power of something as simple as a single breath.

“Full, free breathing is one of the most powerful keys to enhancing physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.”

The breath of a baby and that of an adult is quite different. If you watch a baby sleep, the breath is full and complete. It’s natural and whole. The chest doesn’t just rise and fall, the whole body breathes. In time, somehow we lose that. The stresses of the world and unconscious muscle contraction all lead to adults’ shallow and short breath. It’s as if we’re robbing ourselves of something we were freely gifted. Your breath is a tool to be used whenever you choose and so many of us forget it’s even there.

It’s not a coincidence that most meditation techniques begin with focus on the breath. If you go to a yoga class or hit up a YouTube channel on meditation, you’ll almost always find breathing techniques. In yoga classes it’s called Pranayama. In most other meditation practices it’s called Breath Work.

Breath work can be powerful and therapeutic. It can benefit the mind, body and the spirit. You can reduce your heart rate and your blood pressure. There are studies proving that breath work can reduce anxiety, treat depression and post traumatic stress syndrome. Breath work can free you from a negative mental state and calm the nervous system. It can regenerate and restore us.  An added bonus, breath work can be spiritual and your Apple Watch even includes a free app that nudges and reminds you to stop and breathe.

And it’s simple to begin. All you have to do is breathe with awareness and intent. 

“Breathing is regenerative and restorative. It can cleanse us of toxins that have built up in the body and the mind.”

There are many breathing techniques you can explore but ‘Equal Breathing’ (Sama Vritti) is one of the easiest to learn and practice. Think ‘balance’…balance of the breath. If you can, breathe in through the nose and out through the nose. Breathing just with the nose offers a natural resistance and control to the breath. Breathe in and out equal counts. This is how you do it:

  1. Find a comfortable place, seated or reclined, eyes open or closed. 
  2. Start with a quick overall softening (of the jaw, shoulders, arms) and then inhale to the count of 4, slow and steady. 
  3. Match the exhale to the inhale and count to 4 again.  Allow the breaths to be slow, steady and complete.
  4. Continue for a set time. No time is too short or too long. Allow yourself to do what feels right. 

**Once you are are more advanced, you can lengthen your inhale/exhale to 6 or 8.

‘Bee Breath’, also known as brahmari (sanskrit meaning bee) is an easy breath work practice that calms the mind. Take a few natural breaths before you begin. With eyes open or closed, Inhale through the nose slowly and steadily and then exhale making an ‘mmm’ sound (like humming). Repeat the inhale and then exhale with the sound of the bee. Continue for 6, 8, 10 or 12 breaths.

‘Three Part Breath’ is another very easy breath to master. Many yoga classes use this breath at the beginning of the class as a way to transition students from the busyness of the day to a meaningful practice. Three Part Breath increases oxygen to the blood, calms the body and allows you to become more alert and better focused.

  1. Find a comfortable seated or reclined position.
  2. Breathe a few natural breaths feeling the body move with the breath.
  3. Inhale through the nose 3 times. The first breath is a belly breath, the second is a rib cage breath and the third is upper chest.
  4. Exhale slowly, smoothly and completely.
  5. Continue if you can for ten breaths.

Just a few more:

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) ~  Rebalancing, purifying

Breath of Fire (Kapalabhati) ~ Activates the sympathetic nervous system ~ jump starts your brain power.

Ocean Breath (Ujjayi) ~ Calming

Breath Retention (Kumbhaka) ~ Oxygen increased in heart, brain and muscles.

It’s free and flexible. You don’t have to have fancy equipment or a membership. It’s with you from the moment you’re born until you take your very last one….your breath. Use it, value it, receive it as if it were a gift. Allow your breath to carry you and balance you. Let it calm and heal. 

I know I’m going to breathe a little easier these days.

Run Jodi 

***Breath work is completely safe for most people. If you have asthma or other health issues related to breathing or if you feel dizzy during breath work, just return to your normal breathing pattern. 

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