Posts Tagged ‘health’

Tips for Moving: A Retrospect

25/10/2018

dachshund moving boxes

Moving is no joke. It’s rarely never easy. Yet, since my fella and I moved to the U.S. back in 2013, we have been moving on a nearly annual basis. Each time we had our reasons but that’s not to say I enjoy it. But, over the course of August and September, as we packed up, hiked bags of donation items to HousingWorks, and awkwardly weaved through busy Manhattan streets carrying stacks of moving boxes from Home Depot, I realized that I’ve learned a few things about moving. Both the upsides of moving and few ways to cope.

One of the upsides of moving is the opportunity to minimize and consider what you actually need. Even with our frequent moving habits, it always amazes me just how much “stuff” we accumulate in the span of a year. I tend to think I’m pretty thoughtful about what I buy or acquire. Do I really need that extra sweater? Is there room for another cute coffee mug? Yes, these are small items but multiply this by say, 20, and you actually have quite a bit of extra stuff on your hands. That’s not to say you should never acquire anything new or treat yourself, but it’s worth considering. Over the years I’ve tried to adopt the mentality that if I pick up a new piece of clothing, for example, then something has to go. One in, one out. This helps and whenever you do need to move (or just undertake a good spring cleaning), it’ll make the task that much easier. I mean, it’s still a pain but the payoff is extra space along with the light feeling that you only have what you need and what’s important to you.

With that said, and even with the excitement of change ahead, moving can be incredibly overwhelming. Before diving in, I give the disclaimer that I’m far from perfect (GASP!) and I’ll admit that some of these tips come from a place of retrospect. That’s life though, isn’t it? We tend to learn from our mistakes but I suppose the willingness to learn is better than nothing at all.

  • Space out packing. This really only applies if you have at least a month to move and may not work if you have only a week to pack up and get out. Rather than try and finish your packing in a few days, tackle it by room. If you have a big space like a living room, then take an extra day or two to finish packing that space. I found that spending a few hours packing and purging items from one room then stopping for the day was a boon to my sanity. Sure, one could wake up early to start packing and go like a marathon runner until late into the night. It’s a short timeframe of pain but for someone like me, it would also take me a great deal of time to recover, not great for mental health. So, if you get easily overwhelmed by big tasks like this, then try to approach this part of the process one room, one box at a time. I also like to give myself extra time because, without fail, I always get sidetracked by photos (one below that made me smile) or some long lost sentimental items. And, personally, I think taking time to appreciate these pieces of our history and life is important. Nourishing your soul is always time well-spent.

    funny family photo

  • Take time to rest. Spacing out packing means there’s time to rest and take care of personal needs (and you know, do some work. In my case, thank goodness for the remote work life!) Rest is so, so important – especially during these hectic times. It may feel entirely counterintuitive because you have SO MUCH TO DO but I’m telling you, pushing through the work just because you feel you should can be really counterproductive. We’ve all heard this and it applies to life, in general. Allowing yourself time for a nap, a nice walk, or whatever recharges your batteries will actually help your productivity more than soldiering through. Be honest with yourself. You can take at least 15 minutes to lay down, do a round of sun salutations, or sit with your eyes closed (trick yourself into meditating).
  • Eat well and stay hydrated. I really don’t care to admit how much pizza my fella and I ate during our moving months. Look, I love pizza. Who doesn’t? But I definitely hit a pizza wall, which sounds way more delicious than it actually is. Ordering takeaway or eating out kind of comes with the territory of moving since all of your cooking utensils are packed away and you’re typically not adding fresh groceries to the fridge. So, instead of gravitating towards the greasiest thing on offer, order a salad and/or pick up some fruit to have around as a snack. There are plenty of things we can eat that aren’t terrible for us that are quick and also easy to have on hand. And water. Drink all the water. Again, the stress of moving makes it entirely too easy to pop open a bottle of wine while you’re packing and this can make the process much more tolerable but limit the alcohol.
  • Or, just eat. Contrary to what I just said, stress and anxiety can actually make you lose your appetite. In which case, just eat. Eat until you hit the pizza wall. I also really like smoothies when my appetite needs a kick start. They’re easy to take in and they provide nourishment for the body. And, the rule for water still applies. Obviously, I’m not providing nutritional advice here. I just want you to eat.
  • Find levity. For me, this came from my own dogs (see photo at top) and in the form of looking at funny dogs on Instagram. I will forever be grateful to this little lady in Germany for helping me through the stress of moving. (@madame_eyebrows if you’re on Instagram). Yes, that’s right. The saddest dog on the internet made me super happy. But c’mon, look at that face! Look at those eyebrows! My point is find your own source of levity.

@madame_eyebrows on Instagram

These tips are provided in the context of moving, but they really apply to any stressful period during your life. A work project, planning an event, or whatever big task you have on your plate. Self-care is always worth the time and you’ll come out on the other side much healthier.

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Moon Salutations: Quiet contemplation

26/02/2013

I remember such frigid Wisconsin winter nights when I was growing up. Crisp air that bit at the nose, ice blanketing the driveway and fresh snow hills built up alongside of  the shed. Night arrived early during the winter and by the time our family finished with farm chores for the day, blackness awaited us. While this sounds utterly depressing – and let’s be honest, it was at times – there was also magic in that blackness. Blessed with no light pollution, we could witness millions of twinkling stars in the sky. Stopped in my tracks, I stood on that frozen path between the house and the barn in stillness (maybe slightly frozen) with my head dropped back – completely mesmerized. I still think about those nights in the dead of winter and how for even just a minute, staring at the stars and moon was an invitation to quiet contemplation. To this day no matter where I am in the world, I still find myself captivated by a sky full of bright stars, always leaving me to contemplate my tiny pocket of the vast universe.

For this reason, I felt an immediate connection to Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskara) when I first came across this slower, inner focused set of yoga poses.  Moon salutations counter the dynamic energy of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara), a staple of many hatha yoga classes today. Lunar energy encourages cooling and inward reflection, while solar energy promotes heated and outward focused energy. Classes emphasising moon or lunar energy may be called yin or restorative yoga on your class schedule, which are generally conducted at a slower pace while focusing on longer holds in each pose. If you’re practising yoga in places like Australia or America, chances are most classes offered at your studio emphasize solar energy – which of course is not a bad thing but in the spirit of balance, try incorporating some lunar energy into your practice. Practising Moon Salutations in the evening can be a particularly soothing end to the day especially if you can align your practice with dusk, when day becomes night.

To provide a starting point in exploring Moon Salutations, I recommend this sequence by Shiva Rea that was featured in Australian Yoga Journal. Enjoy the quiet space and contemplation.

Life lessons in the Art of Assisting

19/02/2013

When we open our minds and leave our comfort zone, we can be led down an unexpected and wonderful path. Such was the case last year when I enrolled in a four day course at my yoga studio called ‘Art of Assisting’ which is designed as a yoga teacher training course but also open to regular practitioners. I normally wouldn’t find myself in such a course because  surely there was some reason I didn’t belong there. I’m not a qualified yoga teacher nor can I do handstand – simply not advanced enough. But I turned up with excitement (and slight nervousness) only to meet others who were just like me and were there to deepen their own practice. A few teachers were in the midst but I realized after the first few hours we were there to support each other and learn together.

After relaxing into the course, I quickly found myself interested in more than how I could learn to adjust my own poses. Helping students through assists allows them to chart unexplored territory, physically and mentally, which can be incredibly rewarding for all parties involved. Once the course finished, I decided to continue onto the optional next step of assisting in public classes at the studio, which has been a journey of lessons – applicable to life off the mat too – and isn’t that what yoga is all about really?

Have faith in yourself: When I practised assists on my peers and mentor, the main feedback was always along the lines of “I liked what you did and it felt great. But you just need to be more confident.” Oh how this one piece of feedback has always followed me – at school, jobs and now in the yoga studio! I once read that yoga is a practice of faith and observation – to have faith that you know what to do and how to do it while observing your thoughts without judgement. I tend to keep this in mind while I assist, and do anything for that matter.

Nothing is permanent: During one of my practice assisting sessions, I was not in a good head space and I knew it as I walked into the studio. While I assisted to the best of my ability, I felt attacked and tearful when the girl I assisted confirmed that “I didn’t do very well.” OK – that’s not actually what she said or even meant (I can only assume anyway) but my sensitive mind interpreted it in such a way. My reaction to her feedback rattled me for a good day or two after. I was frustrated with the tears and just simply would not let it go. Those spells of bad luck or stressful days can sometimes feel like they will never end. But the simple thought that none of it is permanent can be a relief. That one average assisting session was temporary and a lesson to learn from. We will always have those days when we are not on top of our game. Which brings me to the next point…

Have compassion: After beating myself up for days after that practice assist I reminded myself of compassion. How we can find compassion for others so easily but then when it comes to ourselves, we have the least amount of patience. Being compassionate to yourself is not selfish. It just makes sense. Think about how you treat others in your daily life. Would you give someone at work such a hard time, for days, if they made a mistake? Probably not. So why would you do that to yourself? We are only human living complex, busy lives – why make it more challenging than it needs to be?

The yoga journey is constant, filled with depths and heights. On and off the mat. What are some of the lessons you have experienced in yoga practice, as student or teacher, and taken into the world?