New Year Intentions

When I walked into Starr Yoga on Sunday I was greeted by “2018 Intentions”. Sticky notes of student’s and teacher’s intentions for the coming year. “Stay humble always, Do the work, Be present, and Strong body/Strong mind” were just a few and it got me thinking. I’ve never been very good about sticking with new year’s resolutions. I actually find them to be discouraging because I almost never follow through so it has been a long time since I made one. Buddha says “Each morning we are born again. What we do today matters most.” So, this year I will set an intention instead of a resolution. To take each day as it comes, to be focused on what is happening now – not dwelling on yesterday or worrying about tomorrow, to be easy on myself and begin again each day.

For those of you who know me know I have struggled with an autoimmune disease for half my life. My physical health is a roller coaster – one year I could be in the best shape of my life and then next bed ridden. Stress and the weather are some contributing factors and I have little control over my flare ups. My rheumatologist encouraged me to try a Vinyasa yoga class and my very thoughtful boyfriend stuck a five class pass in my Easter basket and off to Stil Studio I went. Fluid yoga made me feel alive! It liberated my joint pain, I was sleeping like a baby and it eased some of the anxiety. I was hooked! After a few years I was dying to learn more. I thought that if I knew how to sequence I’d practice at home all the time. So, I enrolled in the Fluid Yoga School and completed their 200-hour teacher training.

The number one reason I did teacher training was to be able to be able to practice at home and I suck at it. It always turns into one of two things; “That feels good, I should teach that on Sunday” or “I should be doing laundry, oh I can’t forget detergent when I go to the grocery store. What the hell is the dog barking at?” The struggle is real and I’m sure you all know it!

I’m going to apply my intention to my home practice. I will take it one day at a time and if there are days where I don’t practice I will begin again the next day. Step one: Create an inviting space. After almost two years, I finally set up my “office”. A cozy little meditation nook where I can close my eyes, take some deep breathes and reconnect but also a place that inspires me to create (where I am currently writing this). And a place with lots of room and wall space to roll out my mat and just flow.  You definitely don’t need a whole room but I have it (well, half – I share it with Ryan) so I am taking advantage of it!

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The first day I didn’t want to leave it – I was downstairs for hours. The second day a little less and third was a busy Saturday at the salon and I didn’t make it down at all. For a few minutes I laid in bed wrestling with the idea of getting up and going downstairs but reminded myself that part of my intention is to be easy on myself. So instead, I closed my eyes and counted 21 full rounds of breath and that was my home practice for that day. Would my body have benefited from a flow after being on my feet for six hours in heels, of course, but it’s okay that I didn’t.

It has taken me a long time to finally do this and I am lucky to have a room I can dedicate to yoga and meditation but you don’t need a ton of space! Setting up a little corner of your bedroom/office/living room is all you need! Here is how I set up my space. I hope this inspires you!

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When setting up my space I wanted it to look warm and inviting, filled with items that made me happy and brought to mind great memories and activated all five senses.

Touch: I started with a nice comfy rug and pillows to create a comfortable place to sit and a few cozy blankets to keep me warm. The body temperature can drop during meditation so making sure you’re comfortable and warm is key! As Andy Kelley says If you’re not comfortable, you won’t meditate! So, make it comfy! If you have a meditation cushion great – if not, a pillow or blanket will do! Mantra is one of my favorite types of meditation so I like to have mala beads on hand. I got mine at Stil Studio.

Sight: Having items that make you happy or bring up good memories can instantly change your mood. I have lots of items that make me smile as soon as I see them. I used an antique chair that was my great, great aunt Lena’s (aka chicken little) for an alter where my Buddha sits (Buddha came from my mom). I also have a Himalayan salt lamp which are known to purify the air and improve your mood among many other things but it provides just enough light so I don’t fall asleep (when they are on the salt melts so make sure to put a towel under them). Pictures, quotes and crystals can be a nice addition as well.

Smell: Also on my alter I have incense and a candle that instantly encourage me to take a deep breath and makes me feel calm. Essential oil diffusers can be nice (I have one on the other side of the room) as well as flowers.

Sound: Music is important to me in my practice but it doesn’t have to be for everyone. I have playlists on spotify for yoga and meditation. On days that I need to be guided I use Insight Timer or the fluid yoga meditations on Soundcloud.

Taste: Last but certainly not least – I like to have a hot cup of tea. Mindful eating can be a great exercise so sometimes I have chocolate. Close your eyes, put a piece a chocolate on your tongue and let it begin to melt. Notice the taste, texture, smell, how it makes you feel. You’ve now completed a great meditation and satisfied that sweet tooth– I’d say that’s a win/win!

 

4 Replies to “New Year Intentions”

  1. I love this Ashley. Thanks for the reminder to be kind to yourself. I love the idea of an intention instead of a resolution. I downloaded a Mindfulness app last week on my phone. This morning, I was feeling a bit anxious as I was heading off to work with a lot on my mind. I decided instead of listening to music or news, to play some soothing sounds so I listened to ocean sounds of waves and birds and concentrated on my breathing as I drove to work and tried to be in the moment and it helped and got me ready for my work day.

    1. This makes me so happy to hear! Taking some time for a few deep breathes really sets the tone for your entire day 🙂

  2. Wow Ashley,so many thoughts go through my mind about, where you were, when you were diagnosed with your MCTD! You have “ faced your fears” so to speak!! I’ve watched you struggle and slowly find your way. Every day is different and you really have to take one day at a time. It’s a full time job, for you, to stay healthy. That always has to come first! I am so proud of the strong, passionate, giving, careing, beautiful woman you have become. I love you just the way you are❤️ Mom💋

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