The Winds of Change

Throughout the year there are times where the desire to change, create, make, move and shift are stronger than others.  The beginning of a new year is one of those times.  As we close the book on 2016 and move into 2017, the desire to change is strong. 

I’ve been asking myself two very important questions lately:  What is it that I want to change and why do I feel this need to change?

I suspect that a lot of this comes from media and past behaviour.  I was surprised by the number of emails that I received over the last month with a call to action.  A call to change.  A call to ‘Make 2017 the Best Year Yet’. 

The funny thing is, this type of thinking sets us up for failure.

Yup – Failure!

No one wants to fail at anything they set out to accomplish, myself included.  So how do you set yourself up for success?

Step 1 – Look at the reason behind the reason you want to change.

What is driving this desire to change?  Is it because you aren’t happy with an aspect of your life?  Is it because you ‘think’ you need to change?  Is it because it’s the new year and this is when new diets, exercise plans and grand plans get put in place? 

If you can’t pinpoint the reason behind the reason you want to change, it is likely that the desire is coming from an external source rather than an internal source.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not against change.  In fact, I am completely for it!  Especially when it’s needed, the time is right and it’s coming from something inside of you rather than something external suggesting you need to change. 

I made some major changes in my life this time last year.  I knew that I wanted to pair teaching yoga with ‘something else’.  What that ‘something else’ was took about nine months to figure out and then six months of me getting up the courage to make the leap and letting go of the ‘safety nets’ that were holding me back.

In September 2015, I left my full-time job and went back to school.  By January 2016, I was enrolled at Georgian College in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture program.  I had changed cities (living part time in Barrie while I’m in school), changed schools (I started in a private college in Ottawa in September), enrolled in a condensed full-time program instead of the part-time program I was in, the list goes on. 

The reason behind the reason for all of these changes stemmed from letting go of what was no longer serving me.  Letting go of the things that were holding me back and helping me to play small instead of growing into the person I could be and the person I am today.

Now that you’ve considered what is driving the change, what next? 

Step 2 – Plan through the change.

Let’s say everything goes according to plan and you make the changes you want, then what?  What does it get you?  What does this change do for your life? 

If you are choosing to change because the desire is coming from within, then go for it!  If you are choosing to change because something external is telling you need to, then stop.

How do we know when the desire to change is coming from an internal source instead of an external source?

Ego and willpower are great indicators. 

If the desire to change is external, it is likely suggesting that something in our lives is lacking or that something is intrinsically ‘wrong’ with us.  Whatever the reason for the desire to change, it is likely stemming from something negative that we need to ‘fix’.

If the desire to change is internal, then it is stemming from a place of love and acceptance.  A space where we can honour our true selves.  A space where our true selves will shine. 

When I decided to add TCM acupuncture to teaching yoga, I did it knowing that the two practices compliment each other beautifully.  Beyond that, I know that both acupuncture and yoga will help others heal from within, using what our bodies are already designed to do, as they have helped me.  The desire for change came from a space of sharing two things I love with the world.

We crave balance and harmony in our lives.  A true desire for change comes from an inner knowing that there is imbalance and disharmony in our lives and a desire to return to our true selves. 

Step 3 – How to get there.

True change is 10,000 tiny steps both forwards and backwards and a whole lot of self forgiveness when we think we’ve strayed from ‘the plan’. 

If we find ourselves straying from ‘the plan’ more and more frequently, perhaps the plan needs to change. 

How we make our dreams happen, means being flexible in how we get there.  It is never a straight road that gets us from point A to point B.  There are many stops and detours along the route.  While it may not seem like it, these are often necessary stops and detours. 

If we look at the reason for each stop or detour, it can give us vital information.  When we dig into what is stopping us from creating lasting change, we often discover self-sabotage blocks that we weren’t even aware of.  This gives us an opportunity to dismantle these blockages and move forward.  Intension or sankalpa is a powerful tool that we can use to ensure that we are moving in the direction that we intended to move when we started this journey. 

A sankalpa or intension is a present tense statement that brings us back to our true nature and helps to guide our decisions. 

A sankalpa is created without ego and without the need for willpower.  It is created knowing that we are exactly who we need to be in this moment and that we are perfect as we are right now.  It is the seed of your heart’s desire.  When setting an intension or sankalpa, ask yourself why and dig into what the reason behind the reason is. 

A sankalpa doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.  One I’ve been working with for several years now is ‘I am present with love and acceptance.’.  This sankalpa reminds me to remain in the present moment and to love and accept myself and others for who they are in that moment.  In this ever-growing world, ‘busy’ has become a state of being that pulls us in many different directions.  I use my sankalpa to bring myself back to the moment I am in and to re-centre myself.

I’d love to read about your journey and your intension(s)/sankalpa(s) in the comments below!

Love, Light and Om,
Andrea

Patanjali Really did Have it Figured Out...

Patanjali really did have most (if not all) things figured out. Add a little Chinese medicine to this and it makes a whole lot of sense.  

What wasn't mentioned in the article below if that the vagus nerve and the parasympathetic nervous system both impact digestion in a significant way. There is a reason that our sympathetic nervous system is referred to as 'flight-fight-freeze' and our parasympathetic nervous system is referred to as 'rest & digest'!

You may be wondering how Chinese medicine plays into this... Here's how.  

If you think of prana as life force, another name for that could be Qi. All Qi taken in and used in our daily lives is a combination of our breath and the food we eat.

You are the air you breath and the food you eat.  

By tapping into and using yoga breathing techniques like Dirga Pranayama we can stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, our vagus nerve (which does a ton of cool stuff for us) and our digestion which can lead to a healthier life.

Here is the article if you want take a read. I found it pretty interesting.
http://bit.ly/2g9JeN8

Love, Light and Om
Andrea

Pranayama - Breathing with Intension

"Don't avoid the vulnerable, the awkward, the difficult, the scary.  Embrace the breath, the moment, the opening, the unknown."  Waylon Lewis

If you can breathe, you can practice yoga. 

It doesn't matter if you are an uber healthy person or a quadriplegic or somewhere in between - you can practice yoga.  The practices will look very different but that is the beauty of yoga!  No two practices have to be the same.   

Every person on this planet has one thing in common - we are all breathing.

Have you observed your breath lately?  The next time you are feeling agitated, notice your breath.  The next time you are feeling happy, notice your breath.  The next time you are feeling sad or are crying, notice your breath.  With each of these emotions (and many, many, many others) that we feel each day, the breath will change. 

Now that you've noticed your breath and how emotion influences it, take a moment and notice where you are breathing.  Are you breathing into your chest only?  Are you breathing into your abdomen and your chest isn't moving?  Is your back moving at all?  Notice your posture - are you stilling at a computer hunched over reading this?  Maybe your chin is in your hand…  If so, take a moment and roll your shoulders up back and down helping you come up to sitting with a long spine.  Many yoga teachers queue to find a straight spine - this isn't actually anatomically possible unless you have a few severe spinal issues.  The natural curves in our spines give us strength and stability; but I digress! Back to the breath.

Now that you are sitting up and have created a little space, notice how you feel. 

This may feel a little odd or foreign especially if you have a habit of rounding forwards.  It may feel really good.  I hope it's the later rather than the former.  If it is the former, that's ok.  It will take a little time but sitting up will begin to feel really good.

Ready for some anatomy?!?!  Do you know where your lungs are?  They are located in your upper chest on either side of your heart.  It still amazes me how much room the lungs take up in the chest.  I always thought they were smaller, but nope.  They are actually span about half of the length of your torso and take up the majority of your rib cage. 

Your diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that connects to your lower ribs in the back, running around your lower ribs and up along the front of your rib cage and connects at the end of your sternum (the bone that runs down the center of your chest and connect to your ribs).  Your lungs sit on either side of your heart above the diaphragm and reach all the way up to just above your collar bones.  By rounding forwards, we compress the lungs and impact the amount of air we are able to take in with every breath.  By sitting up, we can expand 360 degrees allowing for a better oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange.

So now that you know a little about the anatomy of the lungs and you've noticed your breath with different emotions and different ways you sit, what should you do with all this info?  You can use it to change your breath. 

Say your having a lower energy day and need an energy boost?  Try a breath technique like Lion's Breath.  Lion's Breath helps to move energy and to release what is bothering you.  Feeling a little stressed or anxious?  Perhaps give Sighing Breath a try.  Need to soothe your jangled nervous system?  Bhramari Breath or Humming Bee Breath is great! 

One of my favourite teachers, Kat 'Kamalika' Mills, has some great videos on Yoga International that work with each of these different Pranayama techniques. (https://yogainternational.com/profile/181112)  Play with the different techniques and see which one works best for you in which situation.

I'd love to know if you have a favourite Pranayama technique!  Please share in the comments below.

Love, Light and Om,
Andrea

Oh Fall, How I Love You!

What an amazing season of changes and shifts. 

Is it just me or do the first two weeks of September feel like New Year’s all over again?  A renewal of energy, of purpose, of drive.  Each September as school starts again, I notice an incredible shift in energy.  A desire to jump in and start to ‘do’.  This energy creates an amazing momentum to get focused, get organized and create!  Harnessing that renewed focus and driving can be incredible.

Fall is such a powerful season.  Mother Nature is getting ready to shed that which is no longer needed.  Letting go of what was created in order to rest and rejuvenate in preparation for new growth and creation next Spring. 

Tapping into the energies in nature can be a powerful way to move things forward in our lives. 

Mother Nature is about to bless us with the wonderful richness of a fall harvest and fall colours with the turning of the leaves.  Make sure you take some time to enjoy this special season!

Love, Light and Om,
Andrea

Emotional Trauma

Recent events in my life have opened up old wounds that I thought had healed.  I’m amazed by how raw some of these wounds still are.  This has lead me to the questions – how do we actually heal old wounds and move beyond them?  Can we truly heal old traumas or do they stay with us forever?

A friend of mine recently posted this on facebook:  What do you do when the heavy negative energy won't lift...

This question hit home for me.  I realized that I had been carrying a load of negative heavy energy.  Some of it was mine, but some of it is from other people dumping their negative energy on me.  Somehow, unknowingly, I absorbed it and made it mine.

Time to release it!  Time to root down and lift up.  Time to heal. 

Over the last few days, I’ve done a bit of research into healing old traumas and new ones.  There are so many outlets available to help the healing process. 

Before we get into ideas and options for healing emotional trauma, what exactly is emotional trauma?

Emotional or psychological trauma is a type of damage that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event.  This is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds the ability to cope with or process the emotions that result from that experience.  (Thank you Google!)

For myself (and maybe others), it wasn’t one event but rather a series of small events over years that have brought me to where I am now.  Some of these events reinforced old beliefs, limiting beliefs while others brought on heavy emotions I wasn’t ready, willing or prepared to deal with at the time.  I’ve gotten really good at pushing those unwanted emotions down, locking them away and not dealing with them.  Stopping this cycle of an unconscious learned behaviour has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. 

I believe that stopping the cycle is the first step towards truly healing.

There are so many ways to get out of entrenched patterns of behaviour.  The first step is always to consciously decide that we want to change.   

The decision to change, to heal, to be something other than what I have always been is hard but it makes a world of difference when the hard days hit and I am tempted to go back to the way things were.  When the thoughts ‘it wasn’t so bad’ or ‘this is too hard’ come up.  Leaning into those thoughts and feelings is how I get out of the rut I’ve created. 

Yoga refers to these ingrained patterns of behaviour as Samskara or Samskaras.

B.K.S. Iyengar talks about consciousness being like a lake in his book Light on Life.  One of the examples used in the book is as follows:

You are invited to dinner by dear friends and, at the last minute, they ring to cancel, then you’re very disappointed.  That is the primary wave on the surface of the lake.  You’re disappointed, you’re unhappy, you feel let down, and you deal with that on the surface.  You have to calm yourself down, get over your disappointment. 

That is a challenge, an external challenge as it were, that causes a ripple on the surface.

The secondary fluctuations or waves are different.  Those are the ones that rise up from the bottom of the lake.  The bottom of the lake is covered in sand and so, if in life you experience a sufficient number of disappointments, the ripple on the surface creates a wave that goes down to the bottom, and imperceptibly that ripple creates a little bank in the sand, so there is a little mount of disappointment.  As a result, you will find yourself frequently disappointed or sad as this mound as the bottom sends off secondary fluctuations or waves. 

Once a ripple creates a little mound, more ripples add to that mound; eventually changing it from a little mound into a larger mound.  Smoothing out mounds of negative samskaras can be very difficult as it requires consciousness of thought and catching ourselves when we start to repeat and reinforce negative thoughts.  On the bright side, we can replace negative samskaras with positive ones. 

Okay, so I’ve made the decision to change… Now what?

The biggest step for me is to observe my emotions without judgement.  To allow them to come up.  To actually feel them.  Validating or accepting my emotions without guilty or judgement is a big part of this.  Noticing what is happening in my body.  What muscles are tightening up, what is this doing to my breath? 

This does not mean letting my thoughts run wild!  This is about feeling lose, grief, sorrow, pain without letting past experiences or the little voices inside me (the ones I like to call my itty bitty shitty committee) tell me how horrible I am for being here again. 

This step is about having compassion and making time for myself. 

Purging or detoxing also help me get out of negative head space.  The house gets cleaned, things get picked up and put away.  The usual life detritus that seems to follow me around gets dealt with.  It’s something I can control and something I can do.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride in my environment.  I also reach out to people in my life who love me for me regardless of my faults.  By reinforcing positive relationships, I distance myself from those who are contributing to the negative ones.

There are so many other options for healing – meditation, being creative, walking in nature, being near water, yoga, spending time with friends, pranayama (breath work), try something new that I’ve always wanted to try, be active, cook healthy meals, journal, make sound, join a community that supports me, the list goes on.

The key to any or all of these things is to make time and space for myself.  To actually take the time to do one or two of these things each day. 

I’d love to know how you cope with emotional trauma.  Do you have any activities or routines that help?  Please share in the comments below!

Love, Light and Om,
Andrea

June Will Always be a Special Month for Me.

This June marks the beginning of my eighth year practicing yoga.  My love of this practice has only grown since my first class. 

That class still stands out in my memory. 

I was amazed by how natural the movements felt and how I was able to follow along.  There were about thirty of us in a circle on Parliament Hill.  There was only one teacher in the middle of our circle.  

Over the years I have watch Parliament Hill Yoga grow into the amazing community it is now.  I’ve also watched other communities and offerings grow as not everyone is able to make their way downtown throughout the summer. 

I wanted to dedicate this post to all the teachers who are donating their time and their teachings to support the local yoga communities.  While many talk about how yoga teachers need to be fairly compensated for their work, which is true and is something I support, I also believe in giving back to the community that gave me so much.  

The free classes I went to on Parliament Hill eight years ago have had an amazing impact on my life.  One that I could not have even imagined at that time.  I knew early on that I would become a yoga teacher but I also knew that the time wasn’t right.  I waited for six years before I was physically, emotionally and mentally ready to deepen my knowledge of yoga. 

For many years I thought that I needed to be able to “do” many of the common yoga poses before I could teach.  Each time someone asked when I was planning on starting my yoga teacher training, my response was “When I can hold Crow Pose, I will.”.  

Guess what?  I still can’t hold Crow Pose for more than a breath at most.  

It was the excuse I needed at that time.  It was a way I could verbalize the fact that I wasn’t ready emotionally or mentally.  I needed to shift several mental and emotional blocks before I could even begin to consider the reality of teaching. 

Once I did start considering where I wanted to take my training, I considered going somewhere where I knew no one and I considered going to my local studio.  Again, I was working with emotional blocks.  Did I want the people who knew me as a yoga student to see me at my most vulnerable while trying to learn how to become a teacher or did I want people who didn't know me so they would only see the parts that I wanted them to see?

I can tell you, it's good to be among friends.  To be with the people who know and care about you.  They are the people who want to help you grow as a student and a teacher.

That initial teacher training shifted my love of this practice to a deeper level.  The last eighteen months of teaching and deepening my own practice have helped me give voice to these experiences and many others. 

In that first class, there was something very magical about practicing my first sun salutation, reaching up towards the sky in upward salute and then folding towards the earth.

If you have not experienced the magic of practicing outside, check out the list of free or by donation classes that are being offered in the Ottawa area this summer (below). 

If you know of any classes that aren’t on the list, please let me know so I can add them.  A big thank you to Tania Frechette for compiling the majority of this list!

Happy Summer!
Love, Light and Om,
Andrea

Some of these are indoor classes that run all year and some are outdoor classes that run through the summer:

Free Classes: 

By Donation Classes:

Looking for more affordable yoga?  Many studios also offer energy exchanges - Check with your local studio to see if that is an option!

Off My Mat and Into My Garden

Over the last couple of years, I've fallen in LOVE with gardening, more specifically with vegetable gardens.  I love growing my own food and better yet, creating tasty meals from my garden.  There is something so very satisfying about picking fresh veggies and getting creative. 

Having fresh herbs growing just outside your kitchen is just as amazing.  With a few quick snips, a new level of flavour can be added to breakfast, lunch or dinner.

In past years, my hubby and I have gone out to the local nursery and picked anything that we thought might taste good and planted it - no planning, no mapping it out, nothing.   We didn't even really look at what needed shade and what didn’t (we are south facing and get a lot of sun).  It wasn't really a surprise when somethings took off and others didn't.

Our choices last summer really underlined a need for mindfulness as well as another way to bring my yoga practice off my mat. 

Originally, we were working with a space that was approximately two by four feet.  Last summer we decided to expand and starting building raised beds that are approximately fifteen by four feet each.  With the additional space, we made the mistake of planting 4 cucumber plants, 3 tomato plants, 8 basil plants, 6 celery plants and several herbs in one bed.  Some plants took off while others struggled.  The basil, tomato and cucumber plants took over most of the bed while the poor celery plants were stuck struggling in the middle.  This year, we decided to do a bit of research and some planning before we started planting. 

But what does a garden have to do with my yoga practice? 

The purpose of yoga is to unite ourselves with our highest nature, our best possible selves.  Through this, we learn to walk in the world in a more mindful way.  The Yama's (the first limb of the eight limbs of yoga) talks about our interactions with others but also our interaction with the world itself. 

The five Yama's are ahimsa or non-harming; satya or truthfulness; asteya or non-stealing, non-covetousness; brahmacharya or celibacy, conservation of energy and aparigraha or non-grasping, non-hording, non-possessiveness.

You might be wondering how each Yama comes to light when planting a veggie garden.

Ahimsa (non-harming or least harm) often refers to how we treat others and how we treat ourselves, it also refers to how we treat all life including plants.  As I mentioned earlier, the celery plants I planted last summer suffered because of where they were placed.  Had they been placed where they had the space to grow and the sunlight they needed, they would have thrived.

Satya or truthfulness moves beyond being truthful with others and includes being truthful with ourselves as well.  Had I been honest with myself about the space available, I wouldn't have purchased as many plants as I did. 

Asteya or non-stealing is more than not taking what doesn't belong to us, like stealing plants or produce from someone else's garden.  Darn chipmunks!  :) 

If we shift the way we think about 'stealing', it shifts beyond taking what doesn't belong to us physically.  It becomes something bigger, encompassing ideas like not stealing time or energy or wanting to take what doesn't belong to us (non-covetousness).  By not purchasing more that what I need, I am able to leave more for the next person. 

Celibacy is the traditional translation for Brahmacharya, but this translations has more to do with the right use of energy that actual celibacy.  Brahmacharya can also be thought of as conservation of energy or moderation.  Moderation in planting a veggie garden allows all the plants space to thrive.  Moderation also allows for the food to be consumed without it going to waste.  Conservation of energy or right use of energy in my daily life allows me the time and energy to tend to the plants in my garden.

Aparigraha (non-grasping or non-hording) is more and more apparent in our daily lives.  Media leads us to believe that we are not enough without the latest, greatest new product, gadget or high end piece of clothing.  This sets us up for a mindset of 'lack'.  When we view the world from a place a 'lack', we take all we can to ensure we have enough for later.  There is a temptation to purchase a few extra plants 'in case' some of the plants die. 

In my experience abundance tends to show up more fully when we use what is needed and only what is needed.  It will be interesting to see how my garden comes together this year in light of each of these yogic principles.  I'm excited to start the planting process!

I'd love to hear about how you plan your gardens (flower or veggie)!  What works?  What doesn't?  Any tips, tricks or ideas?

Happy Planting!

Love, Light and Om,
Andrea

Happy Mother's Day!

As I was calling and texting friends and loved ones this morning I started to think about all the different ways we can be 'Mother's' to others.  

I seem to have collected a few over the years... :D  Of course there is my Mom (my birth Mom - sounds weird saying it that way, she's always just been Mom), my wonderful Mother-in-Law aka Mom, a wonderful friend of mine who I call Yogamama, another friend who I call Mama G, another friend who is my Launch Mama, the list goes on...

To me a Mom is anyone who takes the time to make sure you are alright, that you have everything you need.  You know you can always go to them with anything and they will be able to help in some way.  They can be a friend or a parent or a step parent or anyone really.  

It's the time that they take to help guide you when you're stuck that really matters.

They may not always give you the answer(s) you are looking for but they tell you the truth and help nudge you along whichever path you are on.  They help you with the emotional scraps that life can give and call you on your BS.  

These are strong, amazing women that I am thrilled to have in my life.

They help me see the person I want to be.  The best version of myself.  

Thank you Ladies for all your love and support and coffee dates!!

Biggest HUGS!
Love, Light & Om
Andrea

Spring Awakening

There are so many ways that we use 'Spring' to express action - Spring Forward, Spring in your Step, Spring to Mind, Spring into Action, etc.  All of this makes me think of buoyancy or a lightening of our lives, a moving forward. 

Spring is a natural time of birth, growth and renewal.  In Chinese Medicine, the Yang energy is starting to rise, we are starting to come out of our hibernation. 

Even though we aren't literally hibernating, many of us (myself included) hibernate in other ways - we aren't as active through the winter, on the really cold days we curl up and stay inside if we can, food tends to be richer and warmer…   We may even hibernate emotionally.

Spring is a time when energies tend to run high.  Do you find yourself getting frustrated easily?  Perhaps even angry?  Maybe taking on a number of new projects even though there really isn't time? 

The Yang energy in this season can cause tempers to flare and buried emotions to make their way to the surface. 

Acknowledging this and taking time to look at why these emotions are coming up will help us to acknowledge them, to process them and ultimately release them.

Now more than ever is a time to step onto our yoga mats; gifting ourselves time and space.  Allowing for time to set aside the 'to-do lists' and all the things we think we 'have to get done'. 

To just be. 

Allowing our practice to flow naturally - our bodies know what to do.  Even if the practice of yoga is new, honouring our instincts and our internal wisdom will help to guide our practice.

Personally, I think Spring is a great time to practice expansive poses - especially heart opening poses.  These poses don't have to be big or flashy to be expansive.  It could be a simple as sphinx pose (drawing the heart through the biceps) or bridge pose (rolling arms under, grounding through the feet and really opening through the heart).  Maybe there are days where we would rather go back to hibernating; perhaps try extended puppy pose or my personal fav, supported fish pose.

A closed heart can give way to feelings grief, anger, jealousy, fear of betrayal and hatred - either towards yourself or others.

Opening our hearts can be scary but it can also be amazing. 

There is an innate vulnerability that comes with practicing heart opening poses and walking in this world with an open heart.  With an open heart, we can be a wellspring of love, warmth, joy, compassion, generosity, kindness, respect, hope, self-acceptance, confidence, and inspiration.

Simple ways to support this opening - random acts of kindness or telling the people around you how much they mean to you.  Perhaps smiling at a complete stranger as you pass them on the street.   That smile may shift their entire day.

Follow your heart and your own internal wisdom.  It's like a seed deep inside.  As we nurture this seed, we nurture ourselves.

"To live is the rarest thing in the world.  Most people exist, that is all." Oscar Wilde

Love, Light & Om
Andrea

Happy New Years!

Happy New Years Everyone!! Oh wait, that was a couple months ago… Let's try this again. Happy First Day of Spring Everyone!!!

You're likely wondering why I'm bringing up New Years in March. If you are anything like me, you may have made a New Year’s resolution in January or late December…

Let me ask you this - are you still following through? Has it fallen by the way-side?

If you are still following through - YAY! That is AMAZING! If you've let your resolution go, maybe it wasn’t right for you. Now is your chance to start again.

I find it fascinating how each year we look to the future and feel an urge to make changes, to create new 'resolutions'. For me, this is something that has been ingrained since childhood.

Now I'm beginning to question it. First of all, why does it just have to be on January 1st? Why can't it be at any time of the year?

In January I was asked a few times what my resolution(s) are for 2016. My response - I'm not making resolutions anymore. 

Wait - WHAT?

In my experience, a resolution is seldom permanent. They tend to go one of two ways - they are either not overly specific or, if they are, they are a large (and often unrealistic) goal. If you've managed to make resolutions permanently stick, I would love to know how you did it (reply below!).

If our resolutions are unspecific or too large, we let go of it within a few days, weeks or months of January 1st. 

A friend of mine commented that resolutions feel forced. That they have a feeling of 'if you make a resolution, you better stick with it'.  I think she is absolutely right.

Instead I invite you to consider resolutions vs. intentions. 

To me intentions are softer, smaller, and easier to commit to; to keep. 

You may still slip from time to time and let the intention go, but coming back to it is easier. You can pick it up, brush it off, and continue on.

My intention for this year was to write a gratitude journal. Did you notice what I just wrote? My intention 'was'... past tense. This is exactly how I feel at this moment.  I'm not even sure where the journal is at this moment. You know what? That’s ok. I will dig it out, I will bring it back to the present and I will continue on. I want to remember the wonderful things that happened this year. Through this journal, I can do that.

In yoga, intentions are created as a positive present statement. Not something we should do/change, or something we need to do/change, but rather something we are already doing.  

One that I often use in my yoga practices is 'I am present'. As I repeat this intention, it reminds me to stay in the present moment, to release the past and not to worry about the future. Enjoy the here and now. 

The beauty of intentions is that we can change them to suit the space we're in or the need in that moment. This isn't to mean that we let go of previous intentions - they will likely come up again and again. After all, there is a reason we chose them in the first place.

My intention for this year is to allow space for gratitude. To acknowledge the happiness in my life as it unfolds.

As you read this, has an intention come to mind? Can you create space in your life to allow your intention to grow and evolve as you do?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Perhaps you'd like to share your intention.

Love, Light and Om
Andrea