On & Off The Mat – A Yoga Blog

by Christy DeBurton

 

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 
Saying No to somebody when we’re used to saying Yes, can be challenging as we fear being rejected.

 
Many of us, from childhood on, are taught that saying yes is right and saying no is wrong. We learn that acceding to demands allows us to avoid conflict and criticism, please people, earn praise, and prove that we care for the important people in our lives. Yet the right to say no is indelibly intertwined with the ability to make choices. When we sense we are limited in our options, compelled to say yes even when doing so is not in our interests, we are effectively robbed of our ability to choose. Growing out of this tendency to say yes even when we desperately want to say no can be challenging because we suspect that others will reject us for our assertiveness. But the reward we receive upon facing this challenge is true freedom of choice.

 

When others ask you to take on work or do favors, consider their requests carefully. If you feel pressed to say yes, consider whether you are acquiescing out of a desire for approval or to stave off disapproval. Remind yourself often that the ability to say no is an important aspect of well-being, as it is an indication that you understand the true value of your energy, talents, and time. As you learn to articulate your personal power by saying no, you may feel compelled to explore the myriad consequences of the word by responding negatively to many or most of the requests put to you. The word “no” may even become your default response for some time. When you see that life moves forward without interruption, however, you will grow more comfortable saying no and will resume making decisions from a point of balance.

 

There is nothing inherently wrong with acceding to the requests others make of you, provided these requests do not infringe upon your health or your happiness. Keep in mind that it is only when you feel you have the legitimate right to say no that you can say yes with utmost certainty, sincerity, and enthusiasm. While saying yes almost always has a cost, you can feel good about offering your agreement when your reasons for doing so are rooted in your individual values and your appreciation for the appeal before you.

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 

Breaking your family patterns may be the most important work you do and the most challenging.

 

It is easy to believe that in leaving our childhood homes and embarking upon the journey of adulthood, we have effectively removed ourselves from harmful and self-perpetuating familial patterns. In looking closely at ourselves, however, we may discover that our behaviors and beliefs are still those that were impressed upon us during our youth by our parents, grandparents, and the generations that preceded them. We may find ourselves unconsciously perpetuating cycles of the previous generations, such as fear of having enough, not showing affection, and secrecy patterns. Yet the transmission of negative patterns from one generation to the next is not inevitable. It is possible to become the endpoint at which negative family cycles that have thrived for generations are exhausted and can exert their influence no longer. Breaking the pattern is a matter of overcoming those values imprinted upon us long ago in order to replace them with pure love, tolerance, and conscious awareness.

 

Even if you have struggled with the cumulative effects of family cycles that were an expression of established modes of living and a reflection of the strife your ancestors were forced to endure, you can still liberate yourself from the effects of your family history. The will to divest yourself of old, dark forms of familial energy and carry forth a new loving energy may come in the form of an epiphany. You may one day simply realize that certain aspects of your early life have negatively affected your health, happiness, and ability to evolve as an individual. Or you may find that in order to transcend long-standing patterns of limiting beliefs, irrational behavior, and emotional stiltedness, you have to question your values and earnestly examine how your family has impacted your personality. Only when you understand how family cycles have influenced you can you gain freedom from those cycles.

 

In order to truly change, you must give yourself permission to change. Breaking family patterns is in no way an act of defiance or betrayal. It is important that you trust yourself implicitly when determining the behaviors and beliefs that will help you overwrite the generation-based cyclical value system that limited your individual potential. Many people are on the earth at this time to break family cycles, for all of you are true pioneers. In breaking negative family cycles, you will discover that your ability to express your feelings and needs grows exponentially and that you will embark upon a journey toward greater well-being that can positively impact generations to come.

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 
Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish.

 

Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is important we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul’s needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries.

 

It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people’s requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time.

 

Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life.

 

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Besides yoga-related topics, I post all kinds of good articles on my Yoga Room Facebook page about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, recipes, etc. In case you’re not a Facebook follower, I thought I would post some of the links here on my blog too. Check them out! 

 

27 Diagrams That Make Going Vegan Way More Approachable

 

CORY BOOKER’S VEGAN 50TH BIRTHDAY CAKE WINS OVER THE SENATE

 

NATALIE PORTMAN MAY HAVE JUST TURNED 16,000 STUDENTS INTO VEGAN FEMINISTS

 

5 Tips for Making the Vegan Transition

 

30 VEGAN RECIPES FOR A PERFECTLY PLANT-BASED APRIL

 

Animal Planet to air show on Barn Sanctuary in Chelsea

 

Forks Over Knives – Plant Based Living – Official Website

 

More to come!

 

I get these at Whole Foods.

I get these at Whole Foods.

 

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Time for another installment of helpful tips from my Yoga Welless Educator training! Try these out–in your yoga practice or any time–and see if they help you improve your posture!

 

1) Align feet parallel and knees tracking forward

2) Tone legs and gently lift knee caps

3) Lengthen tailbone down

4) Side ribs long, abs toned and lifted/zipped

5) Lift heart, pull shoulder blades toward one another

6) Head floats up from back of ears, throat soft

 

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A student recently asked me what some of my favorite vegan products are from local grocery stores. Instead of writing a list I took a few pictures of things I actually have in my kitchen right now so that they’d be easier for her to locate when she went shopping. I thought I’d share them here with you too!

 

The Just Egg is the closest egg substitute I’ve tried for making things like vegan scrambled eggs. We like to add a little Kala Namak Black Salt to it to give it a little more egg-y of a flavor (and of course all your favorite vegetables for a good scramble). 

 

Violife is our favorite brand when it comes to cheese substitutes, the cheddar slices in particular, though we’ve tried a few of their other kinds. They’re made out of coconut oil! Ripple is pea protein milk, and I use the unsweetened variety in everything you would normally use milk in. I think its consistency is closest to milk out of all the non-dairy milks I’ve tried and its taste is very neutral (mind you, I don’t drink it out of a glass, just cooking/baking with it). Califia Farms Better-Half is my go-to for a 1/2 & 1/2 substitute for my coffee, made with almond and coconut milk. And of course I was thrilled when Ben & Jerry’s came out with their line of non-dairy ice creams a few years ago!

 

Trader Joe’s has pleasantly surprised me with their vegan selections. The potstickers are a go-to easy meal in our house. I just recently tried the high protein tofu and like how firm it is (so you don’t have to press out the water yourself). And their vegan mayo is my favorite of the non-egg mayos I’ve tried out there.

 

Try them out and let me know what you think (or if you have any questions). I just ask one favor: Don’t buy them all out so that the next time I go grocery shopping I can’t find them. That seems to be happening more and more lately as more people are realizing the benefits of transitioning to a more plant-based diet! ;)

 

(You can click on the pictures for a slightly larger view.)

 

 

 

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Plantar fasciitis is a pretty common complaint that I hear from yoga students. Since I just had another student asking me about it I thought I would post these two short videos from some anatomy-based yoga teachers here so that you can educate yourself in the hopes of preventing plantar fasciitis yourself, or mitigating it the next time you have a flare up. And…remember what I always say about lifting your arches in poses like Warrior 1?!?! It can make all the difference in the world. 

 

 

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 

Remembering to pause and take a breath before we react, can shift the energy of the outcome.

 

We have all had the experience of reacting in a way that was less than ideal upon hearing bad news, or being unfairly criticized, or being told something we did not want to hear. This makes sense because when our emotions are triggered, they tend to take center stage, inhibiting our ability to pause before we speak. We may feel compelled to release the tension by expressing ourselves in some way, whether it’s yelling back at the person yelling at us, or rushing to deliver words of comfort to a friend in trouble. However, there is much to be said for teaching ourselves to remember to pause and take a deep breath before we respond to the shocks and insults that can come our way in life.

 

For one thing, our initial response is not always what’s best for us, or for the other people involved. Reacting to childish rage with childish rage will only escalate the negativity in a situation, further ensnaring us in an undesirable dynamic. Similarly, when we react defensively, or simply thoughtlessly, we often end up feeling regret over our words or actions. In the end, we save ourselves a lot of pain when we take a deep breath and really tune in to ourselves, and the other person, before we respond. This doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t say anything, although in some cases, that may be the best option.

 

Some situations require a fairly immediate response, but even just a moment of grounding ourselves before we do so can help enormously. The next time you find yourself wanting to react, try to pause, and in that pause, take a deep breath. Feel your feet on the floor, the air on your skin, and listen for a response to arise within you, rather than just going with the first thing that pops into your head. You may find that in that moment, there is the potential to move beyond reaction and into the more subtle and creative realm of response, where something new can happen.

 

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 

There is power in knowing your personal limits – your willingness to accept these limits can give you the means to flourish.

 

Every human life is defined, to some extent, by limits. No one person is capable of fulfilling every possibility. We are all born with unique aptitudes and sensitivities, and it is these qualities that largely determine the paths we will travel in life. What invigorates, excites, and inspires one individual may exhaust or overwhelm another. When we understand what we as individuals are capable of reasonably handling, we gradually learn to accept that we have control over our wellbeing. Yet determining where our limits lie can be difficult, as it is likely we have been told time and again that the discomfort, fatigue, and stress we felt while engaging in activities outside the range of our comfort zones was all in our heads. If you have never before given thought to the notion of personal limits, creating a list of those tasks and situations that leave you feeling drained can give you insight into your own.

 

You will know definitively that you are operating within your limits when you have the necessary energy and drive to address your personal and professional commitments. This is not to say you should not push yourself or work to extend the range of your capabilities. The wisdom you gain through dynamic self-examination will give you the tools you need to create an individual life strategy that allows you to achieve your goals without compromising yourself or your needs. The limits you honor by focusing your energy on what you can do rather than what you cannot do will not interfere with your ambitions unless you allow them to interfere. You can thrive within your limits, actively shape your circumstances, and avoid anguish by simply recognizing that certain aspects of life nourish you while others drain you, and doing your best to perceive the fine line between applying yourself diligently and overworking yourself.

 

You may be surprised to discover that your limits change over time. Your willingness to accept these limits as they reveal themselves to you can smooth your passage through life and give you the means to flourish.

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BY MADISYN TAYLOR

 

Speaking our truth may involve risking rejection, but when we allow ourselves to follow the flow of life, we are supported.

 

As children most of us learn that honesty is better than dishonesty, and we may not question this beyond whether or not to do what we’re told. As adults, however, we can go deeper to examine our choices as investments of energy with predictable risks and returns. When we speak the truth, we affirm what already is. This is like using a paddle when the stream is already moving the same direction. We are already supported by the universe and its energy flow, so we don’t need to exert much energy, leaving more for other pursuits. But dishonesty redirects a portion of our energy against the flow, which requires extra effort. In addition, it creates an alternate reality that requires further energetic input to be maintained. So we can easily see that we are best served when we work with the flow of the universe.

 

Life is not always clearly defined, so we may find it useful to follow our choices to their logical conclusions. We may feel that little untruths are harmless, but they can be like small cracks that weaken an overall structure over time. Even giving someone a compliment or trying to protect them can create problems later when the alternate reality we’ve created becomes the basis for further actions. Even if the actions that follow are honestly done, the underlying unstable foundation of dishonesty will threaten to topple things eventually. This can lead to further energy being spent on keeping things hidden, working to remember the tales we’ve spun and fearing the consequences of being found out. Life doesn’t need to be this draining, but we can make the choice to free ourselves from the bonds of dishonesty at any time.

 

Speaking and living our truth may involve risking, among other things, the possibility of rejection. But when we allow ourselves to follow the flow of life, we are supported. We can then use our energy to cultivate physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and to create our dreams, rather than leaving ourselves too drained to even maintain our existence. Today we can make honesty our choice in every interaction, bringing the nurturing power of the universe’s energy into our lives to bring positive, lasting results.

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