15 August 2014

Summer Holiday

Appreciate these summer moments: The food, the laughter, the stillness, the sun, the rain, the family, the food, the friends, the restlessness of children, the squeal of delights, the late night sharing of memories, connectivity and reminders that we are surrounded by love.  Enjoy your summer and see you in September.  Love from all of us at AOM YOGA.

09 July 2014

Ways to De-stress: Mindfulness Mantra

Today I'd like to share a simple technique I use for de-stressing: mindfulness mantras.

A mindfulness mantra is a word or phrase I repeat to myself to reduce anxiety, stress, anger, or frustration. It brings me back into the present moment, enabling me to be mindful of reality instead of feeling lost in my emotions. 

If something makes you upset, doing this can help you de-stress:

1) Think of an issue that tends to make you stressed, for example: someone's annoying habits, a difficult coworker, traffic, weight loss goals, etc.

2) Pick a word or phrase to reframe the situation positively and help you deal with it.

3) Repeat the mantra throughout the day / week / month / etc. You could write it on a piece of paper and place it somewhere easy to see. You could also set it as a repeated alert on your phone, which is what I do.

One of my favorite mantras for dealing with difficult people is "nothing is personal." It greatly reduces my stress by reminding me that what others do is never personal against me. I also like using the word "joy"; it always improves my mood and keeps me mindful of how I prefer to spend my energy. 

What are some mantras you find useful in your life?

03 July 2014

Gratitude Moment: Savor Each Bite

Today let's be grateful for one of the most basic pleasures in life: food! 

We often take food for granted because it's affordable and readily available. We eat on the go, or wish we were eating something else, or neglect to give our bodies adequate nourishment.

So how can we have a gratitude moment for our food? Pay close attention to the flavor, texture, aroma, and temperature of what we eat. Chew slowly. Take the time to truly savor each bite.
Photo by .craig / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Instead of rushing through your breakfast or debating with someone over lunch, focus on the exquisite taste of your food. Notice the apple's sweet juice. Feel the curry's spicy kick. 

Contemplate where your meal came from. How did it grow in nature? Remember also that food comes to us through the hard work of many people: farmers who harvest it, truck drivers who transport it, and chefs who cook it.

When we eat mindfully this way, it's easy to feel grateful for our food.

13 June 2014

Ways to De-stress: Take a bath

One of my favorite ways to de-stress is by taking a long, hot bubble bath.

I love the way a good bath calms the senses. Water surrounds your body in a cocoon of comfort and muscles relax by soaking away in warmth. Oils or scented candles lift your mood with aromatherapy. Shut out the world by dimming the lights and closing your eyes. 

Try a simple bath of just hot water, or add bath gel/shampoo to the running water to create bubbles. Some more things you can try:
  • Soothing music.
  • A book and a glass of wine.
  • Epsom salts to give your body magnesium, restore pH balance and help detoxify.
  • Lavender essential oil to reduce tension, relieve pain, disinfect skin and other benefits.
  • Baking soda to clean and soothe skin.
Check out more suggestions here: http://massagetherapy.knoji.com/household-ingredients-you-can-add-to-your-bath-green-tea-ginger-nut-oil-and-more/


03 June 2014

Gratitude Moment: Write a Letter

One activity that immerses me in gratitude is to write a letter to someone expressing what I appreciate about them and why I'm thankful to have them in my life. Doing this feels great because it reminds me of that person's special qualities and how fortunate I am to know them. It also brightens that person's day when they receive the letter.

Photo by Pimthida / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

You can write by hand, send an email, read it over the phone or say it in person; the means is less important than what you will express. Giving someone a heartfelt gratitude letter will surely make you and the recipient feel happy and thankful for each other!

Here are some suggestions if you need a kickstart:

  • Write the letter to a birthday person. I prefer this because it's an easy reminder. I'll always remember one friend's touching response: "That was the best birthday wish I got...maybe ever."
  • Write to someone with whom you have challenges or conflicts; expressing gratitude to them can improve the relationship.
  • Write to your significant other. My husband and I do "weekly love letters" and it helps us stay romantic and avoid taking each other for granted.
  • Write to someone you don't know but whose work or actions benefit you. For example, when I was a child I wrote a thank you letter to the mailman, who seemed to really appreciate it. 
Things to say
  • Everyone loves a compliment! List their good traits and qualities that you admire. 
  • Explain some things you've learned from them.
  • Tell a story about how they have positively affected your life, for example, as a good role model, by always making you laugh, or by giving helpful advice.
  • Even just one line saying "thank you" can be meaningful.


07 May 2014

Ways to De-Stress: Massage

When you're stressed, try getting a massage to feel more relaxed. This suggestion might seem obvious, but when my mind and body are tense I don't automatically remember that I would feel much better after a massage.

Massages are a great way to de-stress because they can reduce pain and muscle tension, which helps relax our minds too. Massage therapy can also improve circulation, lower blood pressure, rehabilitate after injury, and promote easier breathing. One aspect I really enjoy is that it gives me a deeper feeling of connection to the body.

To start, you can ask a friend to give you helping hand or learn self-massage, for example with a foam roller or massage stick. You can also check out one of the many local centers for in Geneva which include Shiatsu, Swedish and Thai massage (my favorite). They can be worth the occasional indulgence!

02 May 2014

Gratitude Moment: Home

Last month's Gratitude Moment touched on being grateful for travel. Today, I'm expressing gratitude for its opposite: the idea of home. Home can mean different things. For some people it's where they sleep; for others it's a specific city.

Photo by David Sag / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Be grateful for the home you live in, whether big or small, shared or alone. For example, in a small apartment, I'm happy there's less space to clutter up. In a big house, I'm excited to have areas for hosting friends.
Be grateful for the town where you reside. We often travel to discover new things, but there are many treasures to be found locally. One challenge that intrigues me is to try to explore every street in one's neighborhood or city. It's simple yet it can open up a new perspective and appreciation for where we live.

Be grateful for your hometown where you grew up, which might be near or far away. Recall some happy memories of the places where you spent your childhood. What are some good things about returning there, e.g. seeing old friends?

Some ways to express your gratitude for "home":
  • Organize or decorate your home in a way that leaves you feeling satisfied, pleased, or invigorated.
  • Take time to deeply explore a neighborhood or area in your town.
  • Think of some positive memories of places where you grew up.
I find that being grateful for home makes me more grounded, brings me into the present moment, and enhances my enjoyment, wherever I am. I hope it does for you too!

24 April 2014

Yoga Focus: Stay Human

It is difficult in this world at times to understand that we are all human.  We all have fears, we all love, we all hope, and we all sometimes fall down.  It is easy to forget the moments of intense struggle and pain (both physically and emotionally) that each being goes through on this planet.

But in the practice of yoga we learn how to see each other and ourselves in a way that connects and binds us indelibly. Yoga gives us this gift both through practice and teaching.  In both cases as a student and a teacher I feel deep connection with myself and my core but more importantly to everyone in that classroom and sometimes to the world outside.  The goal of yoga always is to take our experiences outside of the studio and apply them in our every day lives. 

This video below is a great reminder of the very essence of being human - to never forget that we are all going through life in every moment.  It was produced by an advertising agency to highlight the invisibility of the homeless in New York City.  Their take and the reactions are worth watching as it serves as a great reminder to stay connected to each other.

I wish you all an awakened Spring, one filled with fresh eyes and a renewed spirit.  Be kind to each other and to everyone around you.  Your spirit will soar.



16 April 2014

Health Tip: What do I eat?

You might be on your yogic journey for a while now. You might even be integrating more of the philosophy behind yoga into your life. And one of the questions that might have come up is: What do I eat? Do I need to become vegetarian or vegan or a raw foodist to really embody a yogic lifestyle?

While the idea of a yogic way of eating sounds appealing, consider this: No one way of eating works for everyone - including all yogis. 

No philosophy or external expert can tell you how to nourish your body.

The only true authority on what nourishes you best is...you.

To truly honor your needs and evolve as a Yogi, start to distinguish between what your mind wants - what it thinks you SHOULD or SHOULDN’T be eating - and what your body wants. Let go of the diet labels and start to deeply listen to the messages your body is giving you.

Experiment with different foods and feel their effects on a body level. Notice how you feel bloated or heavy after eating certain foods while other foods make you feel satisfied and energized. Notice what times of day you feel better eating a heavy or lighter meal. 

Realize that what works for you at one stage of life does not necessarily work at other stages. Or that what works for you in summer might not work in winter. View your eating as an on-going experiment and become curious about making shifts that really make your body sing. 

In doing this, you will find that perhaps you need to eat some good quality animal products to feel more grounded. Or perhaps a mostly vegan or raw food diet actually is what really makes you feel amazing, and not only what your mind thinks you should eat.

So the best yoga diet there is, in my opinion? Treating your body as a beautiful entity and nourishing it in the best way FOR YOU, both on and off the mat. 

If you want to make changes to your diet but are not sure where to start, join a 4 session group coaching in May where you will discover delicious healthy foods as a way of crowding out less healthy options - all while listening to your body to find what works best for you. Find out more: http://www.healthwise.ch/events/

Hiba Giacoletto
Health Coach

12 April 2014

Ways to De-stress: Make a Vision Board

Sometimes we get stressed because we don't know what we want from a situation or a particular area of our lives. Maybe our priorities aren't clear, or we feel confused by having too many choices.

A fun, creative way to de-stress from this challenge is to make a "vision board". A vision board is a poster or book in which you assemble a collage of images and words representing things you want.
Photo by WiseWellWoman / CC BY 2.0

Vision boards can relieve stress because they help us identify and clarify what we would like to do, be or have in life. Using images enables us to visualize these desires concretely, like a list of goals in picture format.

I enjoy this activity because it's like window shopping for my dreams. Of course, taking action is key, but the benefit of a vision board is that the clearer we are on we want, the more we can align our actions to achieve it. 

For instructions on making one, here are some websites with useful explanations: