5 Life Lessons Learned from Yoga – A Reflection On 2014

For those of you who know me well, you know I’ve been on a yoga journey for exactly one year.  At the start of 2014 I decided to start teaching myself yoga with the use of some iPhone / iPad apps (Yoga Studio is STILL my favorite).  Once I got comfortable with the basic stuff I started taking classes, which ultimately led to my fascination with hot yoga.  While my practice hasn’t been 100% consistent, I’m proud of the journey I’ve taken (and where it’s taking me) and extremely grateful for the things it has taught me.  Yoga, for me, turned from “an additional workout” to a way of life.  I found myself consistently thinking about the passages read in certain classes, or the advice given by instructors and not only applying to them to what I was learning in classes, but also to my life.  These are some of the greatest points I have applied to both my practice AND my life, that I thought I’d share with you today:

v3121) “Send your breath to the struggle”:

In yoga, we are consistently learning new asanas that may be a little difficult for our body to get into. Naturally, when that happens, we tend to hold our breath and focus on the struggle, instead of focusing on our breath and allowing our body to release into whatever pose our body is taking.  By focusing on our breath, you can actually send your breath to the area of struggle and a release will eventually happen.  Focusing on the breath allows our bodies to relax, which in turn allows our bodies to trust us and fall deeper into the asana.

Life Lesson:  We all deal with daily struggles.  Every one of us deals with something different and we all deal with them in a different way.  Send your breath to the struggle.  By focusing on your breath when things are going wrong, we can help adjust our mindset and refocus.   This year I have gone through so many personal struggles, and I haven’t always been the best at taking a deep breath and refocusing – but, this is something I’m working on.  If I can do it in class, why not apply it to life?

2) “Respect where you are today”:

In yoga, some days your body will bend and twist in ways you never thought possible – and other days, those bends and twists will seem impossible.  Instead of getting angry and frustrated, respect where your body is – live in the moment – and remind yourself that tomorrow is another day.

Life Lesson: Some days you wake up on top of the world, and some days you wake up and feel like the world is attacking you.  We’ve all been there.  Nothing is going right, you’re wondering where bad karma is coming from and you get frustrated.  Think about all of the bad moments in your past, how you’ve gotten through each and every one of them, and are here today – in this moment. Instead of letting it completely ruin your day, work as hard as you can, know that you did, respect where you are and know that tomorrow is another day.

3) “Sometimes, you just have to laugh at yourself”:laugh

This little tid bit brings me back to me days at Yogi Power Yoga in Sewell (shout out to all the 5:30 am yogis!).  This was the place I experienced my first hot yoga classes, and fell in love with it.  There were PLENTY of days where my warrior was NOT so strong… my tree branches were totally “Swaying in the wind”, or my crow was a total faceplant … and I would giggle it out.  Instead of being reprimanded, my laughs were embraced.  I didn’t let the fact that the pose I could do so well yesterday, which was a COMPLETE and epic failure today, get to me in a negative way.  I would say “touche body, touche” and try again – and laugh some more.  Since then if I’m in class and my balance is way off or my flow is completely messed up – I laugh it out, I smile, and I move on.  IT’S OKAY TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF.

Life Lesson: Short & sweet – We all do dumb things every now and again, but what’s the beauty of life if we can all laugh at ourselves and share our hilarity with the people we love the most?  I thank God every day for that AM crew at Yogi Power, and all the amazing instructors, who taught me it was okay to laugh at myself.  I embrace that now – in every aspect of my life.

4) “If you feel tension, let it go”:

Often in classes you’ll be reaching for your toes, or headed into some other asana, and your neck or your shoulders, or something else tenses up.  Good instructors will always make it a point to tell you to relax your shoulders and relax your neck and find the tensions and just let them go.  I used to find myself thinking (and still do sometimes)… “How does one just “let it go”?  If I knew how to stop feeling this terrible tightness in my body, obviously I would do it!” – But then, with some focused breathing and deepening into my practice, it happens.  Maybe not all at once, and maybe not the first time around, but eventually it happens.  When it happens, it’s one of the best feelings ever.   You drop your shoulders, you find your drishti (focal point), and your body will allow the tensions to release.

Life Lesson: Tension is caused by SO MANY ASPECTS of our every day lives – relationships, money, work, health, etc.  While it’s not always easy to “let go” of all of those things, it is easy -and beneficial- to find your (metaphorically speaking here) drishti and release the tensions.  So often we spend so much time worrying about things that are toxic in our life, instead of focusing on the positive things.  By “letting go” of the negative things in your life – the tensions – you are able to focus on the good and grow from those moments.

Last, but certainly not least…

5) “Never compare yourself to the people around you”:

This has taken me a REALLY long time to learn – and, at times, I find myself having to remind ..well, myself.. not to do this.  I have been to so many amazing studios with so many amazing instructors (a lot of which I will list below in case anyone is looking for great yoga classes in Jersey / MD) who have driven this point home over and over again.  Your practice is yours, and their practice is theirs.  What they do should have no bearing on what you’re doing – unless, of course, it’s for inspirational and motivational purposes.  The person next to you may be able to bend and twist and invert – maybe they can do all three at once – and maybe you can’t … YET.  Respect your practice, respect your journey – and yes, recognize theirs – but, never compare.

Life Lesson: I mean, I’m pretty sure this one is self explanatory, but here it is.  In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You”.   Compare yourself to no one but yourself.  They are them, you are you.  EMBRACE YOU.  Be proud of who you are, be proud of where you are, set goals and go for them – and be proud when you accomplish them.  Use other people as inspiration and motivation to get to where you want to be, but NEVER get down on yourself because you’re not where someone else is in life.  Your journey is your own.  Respect your journey!

My Journey So Far:

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In Jersey or Maryland and feeling like you need some yoga therapy in your life??  Here are some amazing places to go:

Central Jersey:

(I have taken Sam’s class multiple times and LOVE it!!)

South Jersey:

(I never had a bad instructor here – ever … Lynette(now in FL), Shannon, Marisa, Lindsey, and Piera)

South Jersey / Philly:

(Justin Reilly’s classes are AMAZING if you’re looking for a challenge and to grow!!)

Maryland:

(Ali’s class brought me back to my practice when I moved here – love her!!  Sid and Sid IV’s classes are both so awesome and challenging!  Ken, Gabby and Liz and Nilvis also rock as instructors

… so, basically, I haven’t taken a bad class here – ever.)

This is my life… In Progress,

Happy New Year Everyone!!

-Kristin

The Marcus Group, a North Jersey Public Relations Agency, Celebrates 40 Years of Success by Continuing to Give Back.

 

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A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (who works for The Marcus Group) mentioned they were putting together a campaign to offer one year of free communications services to one lucky nonprofit from the New Jersey or New
York metropolitan area.  They decided the best way to celebrate their 40-year anniversary would be to give back to a nonprofit in their area.  The name of the campaign is “Forty for Goodness Sake”.

Financially, times are rough for some nonprofits right now and I thought this was a brilliant way to reach out and help an organization in the area.   I had to write about it, to help spread the word.  It’s a brilliant campaign idea!

To give you some background on the agency, I’ll pull straight from a press release I found on their site:

 “The Marcus Group, Inc. is a full-service advertising, public relations and crisis communications agency. Founded in 1970, The Marcus Group provides award-winning strategic communication services to a diverse group of commercial and not-for-profit clients.” 

If you’ve heard their name before, it’s probably because they just helped Gilda’s Club gain local, regional and national media coverage and won a Communitas Award for “The Greening of Gilda’s Club NNJ”. 

Are you a nonprofit who needs some help on the Communications front?  The basic rules and how to apply can be found below.  This is an awesome opportunity from a prominent PR agency, and I would highly recommend taking advantage of it!

In order to be elligible:

  •  You must be a 501(c)(3) organization from the New Jersey or New York metropolitan area
  • You must have no current outside communications representation.
  • Eligible nonprofits must provide a written description about themselves, their mission and services, and
    how a communications firm can help them reach their goals.

For complete project details and an application form, visit www.marcusgroup.com.  Applicants should send a completed form and two-page proposal to info@marcusgroup.com.  Proposals should not exceed two pages.

Good luck to all the nonprofits participating, and congrats to The Marcus Group on 40 years of success (and more to come)!

My reactions to the 1st Annual New Jersey Social Media Conference

 

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First and foremost, I need to give the proper credit to Eva Abreu, who put the Conference together.  It was filled with people both interested & interesting, and it fed both types of people’s appetites. 

The opening keynote speaker was David Mathison, author of Be The Media, which I am in the middle of reading right now.  He shared some pretty insightful thoughts with those of us at the Conference.  He was a phenomenal speaker who, truly, wanted to help the audience learn how to make their professional  lives easier (and more successful)!  Some of my favorite points that he made were, “You are what you tweet!” and “There are so many ways to get the message out there without using “traditional” media.”  For those of you who are interested, my next few posts will include reviews on Be The Media!  I definitely recommend checking it out!

Alan Levy, CEO of Blog Talk Radio , was up after David (and David gave him quite the Intro)! Alan spoke about making social media more personal, and adding a voice to the “social media conversation”.  I found Blog Talk Radio to be pretty interesting, but honestly, I found Cinchcast.com to be even more awesome (in fact, I found it to be so awesome that I made an account (http://www.cinchcast.com/kmwein)!  Basically, your cinches are vocal Tweets … so people can  hear what you’re saying, as opposed to just reading it (way more personal and way more social)!

The next few parts of the day included panel discussions and break off groups.  The first panel discussion included 4 different panelists (John Lee of John Lee Media, Brian Donahue of Ledger Live on NJ.com, Loren Fisher of MyCentralJersey.com,  and Michael Shapiro at TheAlternativePress.com).  Each panelist had something different to say about the multimedia crossover.  My personal favorite was Brian Donahue who was so pumped about his job and the “fun zone” in the office!  Everyone should definitely check out some of his video footage and the way he handles video blogging (very cool)!

During lunch we had a great video presentation by Gary Vaynerchuk (author of Crush It) who spoke about his stance on social media.  I thought he was a great speaker, and since he’s known for his informational videos I thought it was appropriate for the Conference.  He was very informative and entertaining.  I’m checking out his book, Crush It, now … so once I have a better idea of the content I’ll be sure to share it here!

The last part of the conference were 2 break out groups, one for social media intermediate & advanced users and the other for social media new users, government and non-profit.  I spoke at the 2nd, on behalf of Special Olympics New Jersey, and was joined by Thomas Russo (Town Manager of Newton, NJ), Heather Taylor (Citizen’s Campaign), Michael Shapiro (The Alternative Press) and Jules Strachman (Karma 411).  We each presented a brief case study of our organization and experience with social media and shared it with everyone else.  Great info was presented from each of the panelists!

Since I didn’t attend the other break out group, all I can report is that there was very positive feedback and Lucy Banta (NJ Family Magazine), Itamar Kestenbaum (Moishe’s Moving), Chris Keiff (1 Good Reason Social Marketing), Amy Vernon (AmyVernon.net), and Lynette Young (Purple Stripe Productions, LLC) were praised for their breakout group!

This post is a long one, most won’t be … but this was necessary!  It was a great day with a ton of information that helped a lot of people!  I’m looking forward to next year’s!  Were you there?  Do you have something to say about it?  Feel free to share it here!

More next time!