Cheers to New Beginnings

endingvsbeginning (1)

How to Teach Children to Meditate

shutterstock_47183629_0How many times a day do we as adults pause and concentrate on a slow and relaxed breath?  If you are like me, or many of my clients we don’t do it often enough.  We spend our days moving from one appointment to the next, groceries, laundry, cook, clean up, bath time for the kids, bedtime routine, repeat.

The next time you find yourself running from one task to another take a moment to pause and just notice your breath. Is it shallow or deep and full?  Our children feel our energy and can feed off that. When we are feeling stressed then our children can become stressed. When we feel calm, cool and collected then our children do as well.

Many times I hear from our awesome mamas and papas that their children have a challenging time settling into bed at night. They toss and turn, can’t get comfortable and end up wide awake for hours.

Here are some tips and tricks that may help your children in settling in for a quiet and peaceful evening. In a soft voice guide your child through the following meditations:

1.  This guided meditation is appropriate for school age children and pre-teens.

  • Sit or lie down comfortably and try to close your eyes.  Make any little movements that your body would like to make to make yourself as comfortable as possible.
  • Try to close your mouth and breathe in and out of your nose.  Notice what it feels like when you breathe in and out of your nose.  I am going to ask you some questions and just think about them in your mind for a moment without speaking out loud. (Parents- pause for a few moments in between each question)
  •  Do you feel your breath as it enters and leaves your nose?
  •  Do you feel your belly and chest expanding as you breath in and getting smaller as your breath leaves your body?
  •  What does it feel like when you slow your breathe down and take a deep slow breath and then let it go slowly as well?
  •  Try to follow your breath with your mind as it enters through your nose, travels deep down into your belly.   Feel your belly grow and expand and then fill your ribs and your chest.  Follow your breath with your mind as it all leaves back through your nose. Let the air in your chest leave first. Then your ribs. Then your belly.
  •  Continue to follow the wave of your breath as it slowly enters and then leaves your body.

 2. This guided meditation is appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers.

  • Lie down on your back and close your eyes.   Place your hands lightly on your belly.  Try to lie very still and quietly.  Close your mouth and breath in and out of your nose.
  • Feel your belly move up and down as you breath.  Your belly is just like a balloon.  Fill your belly up with air and it expands like when you blow up a balloon.  When you breathe out feel your belly get small again just like a balloon does when you let the air out of it.
  • Imagine your belly is a balloon and blow your belly balloon up really really big and then let it get very very small again.  Try to blow your balloon up slowly and softly.

Some children may be resistance to lie or sit to listen to a guided meditation at first. Try not to push them into it. Allow for self-discovery and join in with them.  Lie down with your child, hold their hand or rub their belly or back, and softly allow your mind and body experience the guided meditation as well.

From my family to yours I am sending lots of sleepy vibes!

Namaste,

~Amanda

 Amanda DeGrace is the Founder & Creator of Little Lotus Yoga.  LLY specializes in Pre/Postnatal and Childrens Yoga classes.  You can find them at www.littlelotusyoga.ca  and on facebook at www.facebook.com/LLYoga and on twitter at @littlelotusyoga. When Amanda isn’t getting her OM on with her amazing clients she is at home with her two young children and another babe on the way!

#SoulFULLFall Day 5: Treat Yourself! Love Yourself!

soulFULLfall5

Mantra: I am a divine being full of light and love.

You are a goddess, a divine being full of light and love, and you deserve the best treatment in the world.

Self-love is a powerful tool that you should use every single day! By treating yourself with love and respect you set the trend for others to treat you with love and respect. Start giving yourself the tender love and care you deserve with these awesome tips…

1. Do what you LOVE. Make sure you make time every single day to do the things that you love. Create a ritual that makes you feel divine. Maybe it’s an evening bubble bath or a morning meditation, whatever helps you feel like the radiant, loving being you are – do that.

2. Dress like a goddess. Wear whatever makes you feel vibrant! Empowerment for you could be stilettos and red lips or yoga tights and cozy knit sweater. If it makes you feel amazing, wear it!

3. Spread the love. Empower and inspire others to fall truly, madly and deeply in love with themselves. By elevating others, you elevate yourself!

 Snap a pic of your new #soulFULLfall routine and post it to social media using the #soulFULLfall hashtag for your chance to win an epic Tiny Devotions and Essence of Living prize pack!

#SoulFULLfall Day 4: Be Fearless

soulFULLfall4

Mantra: I breathe in love. I release fear.

Fear sucks. It cripples, it crushes and it holds you back from being your true, sparkling self.

All negative emotions are rooted in fear. Anxiety, stress and depression all stem from choosing fear over love.

When you learn to live without fear, your life becomes limitless. By releasing fearful thoughts you empower your spirit and begin to shift into an “anything is possible” mentality. Start letting go of fear today with these tips…

1. Challenge yourself. Face your fears head on. Do something you’ve always been afraid to do. Try a challenging yoga pose (like a handstand in the video below!) or go out on a limb and ask for something you’ve been afraid to ask for. By conquering your fears you’ll soon see you had nothing to be afraid of in the first place. You’ll empower yourself. You’ll become unstoppable.

2. Use a mantra to release fear. When you sense fear and anxiety creeping into your mind, use the power of a mantra to let it go. The mantra above is from spirit junkie, Gabby Bernstein and is one of our all-time faves.

3. Make a gratitude list. Sometimes it’s easy to become overwhelmed when your mind starts to turn down a fearful road. One really effective tool to stop fear in its tracks is to shift your attitude to gratitude. By writing down and saying allowed everything you’re grateful for you’ll begin to transform from a fearful mindset to a loving mindset.

Snap a pic of your new #soulFULLfall routine and post it to social media using the #soulFULLfall hashtag for your chance to win an epic Tiny Devotions and Essence of Living prize pack!

#SoulFULLFall Day 3: Chakra What?

soulFULLfall3

Mantra: Ommmmmm

Chakra is a Sanskrit word that literally translates into “spinning wheel.” According to ancient yogic traditions, there are seven major chakras or energy centers in our body. Each of these chakras corresponds to a particular color-coded vibrational frequency in the universe that influences our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

When our chakras are perfectly aligned with the universal flow of energy, every aspect of our life becomes harmonious and joyful. We reclaim perfect health, and our love and passion for life becomes renewed. Tune in and open your chakras with these tips…

1. Participate in a cleanse. Whether it’s a one-day juice cleanse or a seven day detox, cleansing your physical body will help you clear out any physical blocks that exist in your chakra system helping you feel more vibrant.

2. Practice mindfulness. Start to pay really close attention to your thoughts and your feelings. Are you quick to anger? Suddenly shy? Nervous or anxious? These feelings are clues that can help you uncover blockages in your chakra system. Pay attention!

3. Yoga! Asanas like the Essence of Living ‘Back Care’ segment below can help you strengthen your physical body while also sharpening your mental and spiritual bodies. Once you’ve discovered what chakras you might need to open, do some research and you’ll discover a variety of yoga postures designed to help you release the blocks.

Snap a pic of your new #soulFULLfall routine and post it to social media using the #soulFULLfall hashtag for your chance to win an epic Tiny Devotions and Essence of Living prize pack!

#SoulFULLFall Day 2: Work with Soul

soulFULLfall2

Mantra: I am thriving, prosperous and full of creative energy

Monday morning can be a grind. Whether you work in an office or from home, getting back into the flow and routine of your job can be a struggle.

Good news? It doesn’t have to be that way. By changing your attitude and spicing up your routine you can transform your work routine into a #soulFull, enjoyable experience! Here are a few tips to get you started…

1. Focus on what you love. Instead of complaining about all the tasks you hate, focus on what you love about your job! Ask yourself, what drew you to your career in the first place? What we think about, we amplify. If you focus on what you love, your whole day will become more enjoyable!

2. Build a community. Connect with colleagues. Go out for lunch together, create an office book club, or share personal stories about your friends and family. Working with friends can be so much fun! So, strengthen your workplace bonds and relationships.

3. Take breaks and time for yourself. Meditate during break or go for a walk around the block. Do things to make yourself feel good during your workday and you will see a spike in a productivity, focus and enjoyment.

Snap a pic of your new #soulFULLfall routine and post it to social media using the #soulFULLfall hashtag for your chance to win an epic Tiny Devotions and Essence of Living prize pack!

#SoulFULLfall Day 1: Meet your Inner Guru

soulFULLfall1

Mantra: I am connected to my spirit and open to receiving guidance

Your intuition is your compass and guiding light in this world.  When you are in tune with your intuition you are able to make clear decisions and feel confident about the path your on. Your intuition connects you to your truth and guides you towards your destiny! She always knows what’s best. Enhance your connection to your inner guru today with these tips…

1. Meditate before or after your yoga practice. You can sit in Easy Pose or lay down in Savasana, whatever is most comfortable for you. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes and focus on the spot between your brows. This is your Third Eye chakra and where your intuition’s voice is strongest. As you breath, repeat the mantra above silently or out loud to yourself.

2. Buy a mala with an intuition-enhancing guru stone, like the Lapis Mala of Intuition or the Third Eye Mala, and wear it regularly to inspire you to keep your inner voice loud and clear.

3. Ask for guidance! If you’re looking for your inner guru to help you make a choice or to direct you, ask her for help. State your request out loud and then wait. Her answer could come in the form of a feeling, an idea or words. Pay attention!

Snap a pic of your new #soulFULLfall routine and post it to social media using the #soulFULLfall hashtag for your chance to win an epic Tiny Devotions and Essence of Living prize pack!

Lora Hogan: 3 Lessons I’ve Learned Teaching Yoga

LoraHogan-159Yoga changed my life before I became a yoga teacher. Then I became a yoga teacher. And I discovered how my life is transformed on a daily basis.

If there are elements of the yoga practice that seem hard for you to grasp, they will be uncovered for you as you teach. If there are poses that are difficult for you to master, they will find a place of balance as you teach. If there are any fears you are trying to hide, they will come out as you teach. Because, in order to be a great teacher, you truly have to be willing to dive in with your whole self…and watch, feel, and learn from what unfolds. Here are three of the greatest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a yoga teacher:

 1) Never assume. They say to practice compassion because “everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The problem is you can’t always outwardly SEE the battle. I still recall the yoga class (as described on Yogaaudacious) where I broke down and suddenly started sobbing during savasana. I had looked perfect. I was 22. Perfectly skinny. Smiled a lot. Able to master poses that now I can’t even begin to find my way into. But inside I was suffering. Not everyone is struggling to recover from an eating disorder or sexual assault. But everyone has something going on. The marine who can kick up so easily into hand-stand may be battling with PTSD. The (seemingly) overweight yogi may be the strongest and most flexible of the bunch. The skinny runner may have shin splints and ended up in yoga class out of frustration. The mother may have had her daughter throw up in her hair that morning. The elderly woman may have a sister fighting terminal cancer. In fact, the young woman could even be recovering from cancer herself. YOU JUST DON’T know. And you can never know. Unless a student tells you something, do not assume anything about their body, their mind, their hearts. Always ask questions. And ask again and again. Because every day, every moment, is different for us all. Never assume you already know your students…because you will never know what each class may be like and what may have motivated him/her to come to the yoga mat that day.

2) Your students are your best teachers. Learn. Always learn. Learn from your students. To teach you must know. You must practice and seek out answers to your students’ questions. You must have a dedicated home practice. You must take advanced trainings and workshops. But, most importantly, you must watch your students. You must listen. You must treat every class as an opportunity to grow. How can you be better at teaching? What can you learn in each moment? Observe. Listen. Discover. Your students will tell you more than you could ever have thought possible. They may ask a question for which you have no answer. Or they may show up and actually BE a teacher you have studied with before. But your students believe you have something valuable to offer. So you must deliver. Time and time again. And if you ever stumble in class your students are there for you. They will help you get back on track. Because they are there for you, just as you are there for them. It is our duty to grow with our classes. We learn best when we learn together. Your students are there to teach you, just as much as you are there to teach them.

3) Always be authentically you. David Mamet said “Always tell the truth — it’s the easiest thing to remember. “ Similarly, always BE YOU. Fully you. Your students will come to your class for you. Some students will not come to your class because of you. But the only way to truly succeed in yoga is to be your most authentic self possible. To love yourself enough to show up fully, unapologetically, in each and every moment of every class. There will be students who will not like you. Someone may say you are “too high energy” or that they don’t like your music, your sequencing, your smile, or eagerness. But the very thing that will set you apart in the yoga world, that will make you the best teacher possible, is to love yourself so much that you can be 100% yourself in each and every class. Because being you is the easiest thing to do. And it will inspire all your students to go out and be their true selves–on and off the mat.

 LoraHogan-19LORA HOGAN, a yoga teacher, motivational speaker, and author provides yoga for runners, athletes and everyBODY. Founder of #PassLove, Lora also lectures on improving your wellness business, finding and living your passion, and self-love. Lora wants to challenge your body, connect you to the present, and promote self-esteem and compassion. Whether an Ironman, yoga teacher, or just starting the journey, Lora helps take the practice to the next level–on and off the mat. Lora’s yoga classes and workshops nationwide include Lora Love Flows, Yoga to Unstuck Yourself, Yoga for Creativity and Yoga for Athletes.

Website: www.lorahogan.com

Blog: www.lorahogan.com/blog 

Instagram: @lora_hogan

Twitter: @lora_hogan

Facebook: Facebook.com/DailySouthernSunshine

Pinterest: Pinterest.com/LoraHogan

Kickstart your Dreams: What I Learned in Thailand

_P9A2139 (2)I just got back from Thailand. For me, it was a dream, the trip of a lifetime. I got a chance to take a pause, smile in the sunshine, appreciate my struggles and thank the universe for new opportunities.  Dreams can become a reality, I assure you!  Go after them and seek that ‘something’ that sets the colors of your world on fire. To help you get there, here is a list of my shortcuts…

1. Pay attention. Kismet is calling you. Fate is real, that is a fact. I know for certain my path was paved with cobblestones of fate. There’s no other explanation as to how I got here except that I paid attention to the signs, went with it, and never stopped trying. Whether you believe it or not, I bet if you look hard, you can find messages everywhere that were meant for you. Why are they meant for you? Because you noticed them, and that counts for something. Pay attention. Listen to the nagging voices. Look around… the universe is calling.

 2. Find the right partner. Don’t settle. I was lucky enough to find the right person for me who stuck with me and supported me no matter what hair-brained idea I came up with that I wanted to try next. To achieve your goals, it is imperative to have the right person by your side who’s a best friend, a confidant and a support network. I have told all three of my sons that choosing a spouse is the most important choice they will ever make, above anything. The right one can make the world brighter and challenges seem easier to reach.

 3. Give back. Give thanks. This one’s a biggie. First, let me give you a small backstory. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Cambodia within my recent travels abroad, and it was a place that absolutely changed me to my core. The second day I was there I knew I had to do something, and decided to start working on a foundation. If you are able, find a cause, contribute and volunteer. If not money, then donate your time. There’s a story about a kid standing on the seashore amongst millions of starfish that had washed up and were dying. He began throwing them out one by one back into the sea, and when a stranger approached and asked him what kind of difference he expected to make, he threw another starfish back and replied, “I made a difference to that one”. Be that person.  Try to make a difference, even if it’s a small one, and I guarantee you will find yourself closer to your own goals by default.

 4. Get a tattoo. Or something similar. What I really mean is that it is important to have a daily physical reminder to be thankful, pursue your goals and keep trying. If you aren’t into tattoos, wear a meaningful bracelet or keep a list of your goals in your wallet. Make the reminders that you need to ground you tangible. While in Thailand I received a sak yant blessing tattoo from a monk. That is my tangible reminder, and I’ve run my fingers over the blessing every day since I received it. If you are ever in Thailand, I highly recommend taking an adventure to Wat Bang Phra outside of Bangkok to get tattooed by a monk. It’s a wonderfully rad experience.

 5. Be Real. Don’t compromise. Find your voice. Find who you are. Be genuine and true to yourself and don’t copy other people. I have sadly watched friendships destroyed over businesses, money takeover principles, and greed destroy love. There are people who will lie, cheat and steal to great ahead, but those people’s successes never last. Strive to be the kind of person that your grandmother would be proud to know. Cut and dry, be an awesome human, don’t stray from humanity and success will find you.

6. Think big. Life is finite. All of those things you want to do… go out and do them! You may not see how to get there at first, but perseverance wins. Perseverance mixed with big dreams… wins big. Be unstoppable. And then go to celebrate on the sandy beaches of Thailand.

IMG_8831-150x150Tiffani Shipman graduated from University of Oklahoma with degrees in Psychology and Sociology, received her RYT200 through Tiffany Cruikshank Yoga Medicine, and is currently studying Acupuncture, Holistic Therapy and Sports Medicine. She is a contributor to Misfit Yoga and Wellness and you can also find her blog, yoga schedule and more at www.tiffanishipman.com When she isn’t studying her craft or teaching yoga, you’ll find her playing practical jokes on her friends and family, restoring old cars, baking cupcakes, hula hooping, or enjoying a beer in the backyard. She resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with her husband and three boys.

5 Ways to Seize a Fresh Start

mala-beads-yoga-tiny-devotions-photographer-photographer-richelle-hunter-photography-summer-of-soul-181The idea of embracing a fresh start can be two fold – filled with excitement of new possibilities and change, and at the same time, interlaced with feelings of uncertainty and doubt.  When I was entering a phase in my life this past year where a fresh start was needed, I flip-flopped between these two extremes what felt like every five minutes!  Throughout the transition process, I found some ways that allowed me to focus on the excitement and leave the doubt behind…

1. Start small. A fresh start does not necessarily mean a huge, life-altering event (move to a new country! Start a brand new career!)  A simple change to your exercise routine, a relationship with your loved one, or with yourself, can produce the same rejuvenating feelings as a major change.  There is no need to wait for a “perfect” moment to begin.  Start now, and start small.  Find little things to incorporate into your day that will align with the path you are ultimately seeking.

2. Embrace the fear and uncertainty. Yes, these feelings are going to be there, and the more you give into them, the louder they are going to scream and convince you to stop moving forward.  Instead of letting these emotions overwhelm you, let them be part of the process.  Sit with these sensations, acknowledge the uncertainty – in fact, own it! – and use the fear as a sign that you are moving the right direction.

 3. Gather your tribe Find people who will support you- those who have gone through the process of starting fresh.  Use them to silence out anyone who may be questioning your decision of whatever change you are making.  Surround yourself with those who uplift you, those who you can count on to be there when those pesky feelings of fear and uncertainty become a little too loud in your head.

4. Be prepared and be ready to work. Hopefully the members of your tribe that you gathered will tell you this, but this whole fresh start thing does take work!  For example, when you make the decision to begin a new job or career, make sure you are prepared and able to support yourself during any transition period.  Starting over in a completely new town? Make sure that it is one that has the resources to support you and your vision.  Dreams and visions are often the catalyst to start down a new a path – action and hard work is what will make them a reality.

5. Be ready to change! This whole process will change you!  You will feel empowered from overcoming the doubt and uncertainty.  You will trust yourself and know how to stand on your own two feet. In the wise words of J.W von Goethe “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden.”  Cheers to new beginnings!

khSince a young age, Kaitlyn Hochart has been fascinated by the intricacies of the human body. This fascination originally brought her to a career in nursing, and eventually to the mat as a yoga practitioner, teacher, and life long student. She has over 400 hours of yoga training, including 200 hours of in-depth anatomy, alignment, and adjustment studies with internationally renowned yoga teacher Tiffany Cruikshank through her Yoga Medicine teacher-training program. Combined with six years of experience as a registered nurse, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge of the human body as it manifests in our yoga practice with my students and fellow teachers.