27 June 2014

Ring ring ring, the Universe is calling!

Last weekend, my boyfriend's Aunt mentioned she was doing yoga therapy and told me she heard that yoga was about more than just physical postures. I was horrified when I realized I could no longer rattle off all 8 limbs of yoga. This motivated me to go back to my yoga philosophy and study. (I was relieved to find that I just blanked on some and OF COURSE I still incorporate many into my teachings and my practice. Still, it's good to refresh!) As part of reviewing my Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training notes, I found a little blue index card on which I'd written: "SIGN FROM ABOVE see/hear 3x".

Universe: "Bring more of your study back to yoga."(1)

The next day I was asked to take over a yoga class at a new facility because their best instructor had to give it up. I took this instructor's class the following day and she was AMAZING, incorporating all things yoga in a fun and energetic way. I learned in talking with her that the class would be another large group of dedicated students who are all physically active and fit, which is not the audience I've typically served. While hot power yoga is and has been more my personal practice and style, the idea of taking over for this instructor was (and is) terrifying. 

Universe: "I'm challenging you to become a stronger, more confident yoga instructor." (2)

The day after that, I got a request to sub a yoga class at a nearby gym for every Wednesday night in July and a couple nights in August, which was originally in conflict with my "6 weeks to relaxation" offering. 

Universe: "Share more and more yoga."(3)

Now, all this local, in-person yoga teaching isn't directly in line with my "plan" of building a virtual client base for yoga, meditation, and eating psychology. However, I feel like these opportunities are banging down my door, and that perhaps the Universe is calling me to re-focus on yoga. I decided to continue my studies, and am enjoying going back through my Kripalu yoga training materials and reading a book about Swami Kripalu's life; I am going forward with the new teaching gig, although I'm still working through some of the fear. I decided I'd regret not trying more than I'd regret trying and failing. And, I moved the time of my relaxation program back 30 minutes so I can still offer that while subbing more classes. 

I've noticed more over the past few years that whether it's the beginning or ending of a relationship or a job, there are often 3 things I see or hear that can serve as guidance for me when I don't override my intuition with "clever" thoughts. I'm going to dance with the energy that's coming into my life this time. What's the worst that could happen?

Can you think of a time when the Universe was calling (or warning) you? Did you notice? Did you listen? I'd love to hear your story!

23 June 2014

13 June 2014

30 Days to a Happier & Healthier Me

A mocha latte
As some of you know, starting June 15th I'm facilitating a Facebook group called "30 Days to a Happier & Healthier You Practice". In it, each person decides one habit they'd like to practice encouraging, or one habit they'd like to practice softening. I'm specifically calling this a practice (rather than, for example, a "challenge") because although it may be challenging, it's not intended to be something we beat ourselves up over when we're not perfect at it. The idea is that we support each other, and just keep trying.

Of course as the facilitator of such a group, I have many ideas about what I could do for myself and post about. I have to set an example, right? So my first thought was that I could do anything EXCEPT giving up coffee (again). That would just be too challenging.

A little history of me and coffee: back in the day I was never really into it. I used to have one cup (read, 8 oz) in the morning with a powdered milk substitute. I preferred Dunkin over Starbucks. (Yes, really.) And then something happened--especially after I got a job in the city of Boston--I was surrounded with coffee shops. I got hooked on a morning Starbucks, joining in the morning ritual,  feeling all "Sex and the City". Soon I decided visiting the Boston Common Coffee Co was a better, more local alternative. I started drinking americanos and almond milk lattes. When I moved to Austin, the first thing I did was check out all of the coffee shops I could find. My favorite is Monkey Nest Coffee--where you'll often find me working.

When I'm doing a cleanse, I get off coffee pretty easily. I drink a lot of water, and don't have too many symptoms (e.g. headaches). But I miss it terribly. I miss the imagined comradery with other coffee drinkers. I miss greeting the people who make my drink, take my money, and stamp my frequent visitor card. I miss the ritual. Drinking coffee gives me pleasure; pleasure beyond what comes from the energy boost of the caffeine. (Anyone who's ever shared quarters with me knows I'm generally wide awake and perky somewhere between 5-6 am, even without it.)

So I could do anything but give up coffee as part of this practice. Right? Hmm....

Well truth be told, the group of people who have agreed to participate in this 30 day practice have inspired me. They've inspired me to set an example by being REALISTIC, to set myself up for something challenging enough to require practice but to still be ACHIEVABLE. So for the next 30 days, my practice will be to have one SMALL coffee drink no more than 3 times a week.

As part of this practice I will explore:
  • what it is about drinking coffee that gives me so much pleasure? 
  • how does it "fill me up" emotionally? 
  • what am I afraid will happen if I don't drink it? 
  • what tools can I use to get through times when I'm really craving it? 
  • what needs does drinking coffee fulfill for me? 
  • how can I enjoy working in a coffee shop environment without over-drinking coffee? 
  • what is it I really desire?
It's my belief that we have difficulty changing habits because we focus on the "giving up" part by trying to use willpower. However, the habit represents something that's important to us, so we need to explore the deeper meaning behind the habit first. What are its benefits (even if we do label it as "unhealthy" or "bad")? How does the habit make us feel better, how does it serve us?

Only when we answer these questions will habits soften and perhaps fall away.

I'm ready to explore. I'm ready to practice. And I promise you, I will not be perfect. :-)

I hope you'll join me. See https://www.facebook.com/groups/1430137057252728/.

12 June 2014

2 More Tips for Deep Breathing

Third in a series of breathing videos. In this one, I offer two tips that can help you find more ease in the three-part, diaphragmatic breath. (2mins)


So before we add sound to our long, deep, diaphragmatic breath, there's just a couple things I want to say.

The first is that if you find you have difficulty imagining the breath pouring in from the chest, and then moving down into the rib cage and down into the belly, you can try actually doing the opposite. The first way I learned was actually the opposite direction--so, sometimes it's easier to feel the belly rise and fall with the breath than it is to feel the chest--it might depend on how you breathe normally and naturally. So if you find that it's difficult to sort of imagine that top down, you can just reverse the direction and start feeling the breath from the belly then moving it up into the rib cage, up into the chest as you inhale, and then as you exhale you can imagine it flowing back down. So you can try both directions and see which one works for you. I'm all about experimenting so you can try them both and pick one that you think works better for you.

The second thing I want to say before we add sound to the breath is that you want to think about opening the chest and allowing room for the diaphragm to move. So one of the easier ways that you can play with posture is to just inhale and bring your arms up over your head, lift your chest, relax your shoulders down; imagine as though you're reaching up to the sky. You can look up if it's safe for your neck. And just open up as much as you can and really reach through your fingers. Make sure they're nice and active. And then round yourself forward, imagine as though you're hugging a beach ball. Just kind of rounding the shoulders down, drawing the belly in and up, and then inhale and lift and expand. And as you exhale, round. And do that a couple times and it will just help to open the chest and then you can try the deep breathing again and see if it improves.

Thank you so much!

10 June 2014

Learning to Breathe More Deeply - Part 2

This is the second in a video series I'm releasing this week. Learn the three-part yogic breath, or complete diaphragmatic breath--helps not just in yoga class, but in life! (3mins)


Now that you can sit comfortably and observe the breath in your body, it’s time to invite it to change. In yoga, this is called the three-part  breath.

First, bring your attention to your chest. Feel the chest rise on your inhale, and fall on your exhale. You can envision a balloon in the chest that’s filling up with air as you breathe in, and that’s deflating slightly as you breathe out.

Practice focusing on the breath in you r chest. If it’s helpful, you can even place a hand there, just to remind you. Feel the chest pressing up into the hand, and moving away from the hand slightly. Try not to force.

Next, see if you can expand the idea of the balloon from the breath into the solar plexus, or rib cage area. So as you inhale the breath fills the chest, and it flows down to the rib cage. As you exhale, the breath moves up, from the rib cage to the chest—that balloon deflating. Again, if it’s helpful to place the hands on the chest and the rib cage  you can do so, feeling the breath move in, and move out.
Just practicing these two parts together. That balloon inflating as the breath comes in, and deflating slightly as the breath goes out. Just visualize the balloon, and be careful not to force the breath.

Finally, inflate that balloon from the chest, down into the rib cage, and then into the belly, allowing the belly to really inflate with that breath. As you exhale, draw the navel toward the spine, squeezing the breath out up to the rib cage and up to the rib cage, adding the third of the three parts to the three part breath. Just imagine that balloon rising and falling, inflating and deflating.

If you feel comfortable you can start to imagine the balloon not just at the front of the body, but also at the sides of the waist, the ribs and the chest, and into the back body as well -- all 360 degrees.
Practice this for just a few moments every day, and you’ll find that you can breathe more deeply and fully any time you like.

09 June 2014

Learn to Breathe More Deeply - Part I

This is the first in a video series I'll be releasing this week. (3mins)


Hello, I’m Kali Patrick from A Journey into Health.

This video series is for anyone who wants to learn to breathe more deeply and fully.

Complete, diaphragmatic breathing has many health benefits;  in my opinion, reducing stress and tension is one of the most important. In this video, we’ll first learn how to arrange the body for optimal breathing, and then work on developing “witness consciousness”, which is just a fancy way of saying “paying attention”.

So let’s get started.

Find a comfortable seat, either cross legged on the floor with a little something like a folded blanket under your hips, or in a chair. If you’re in a chair, your feet are flat on the floor, and your back is nice and straight. Consider not using the back of the chair, or placing a pillow behind you.

Soften your face and your shoulders, allowing your arms to hang loose, with your hands resting in your lap. Either close your eyes, or bring your gaze down to the floor in front of you. 

Now just notice that you’re breathing. Without trying to change your breath in any way, simply pay attention. Connect with that part of you that is able to witness what’s happening in your body as you breathe. Be curious.

How is your breath showing up in this moment? How might you describe it to someone? Is it short, long, choppy, smooth, irregular, flowing  or halting? Imagine as though you had to describe what breathing in and out were like to someone who didn’t know.

Notice if you’re eager to “do something” about your breathing. See if you can surrender that desire and simply breathe. Observe.

The only thing for you to do right now is inhale, exhale, and cultivate this sense of awareness.

04 June 2014

Juiceland Juice Cleanse: Day 3 Finally Brings Dedication?

Update: I'm doing another 3 day starting 6/26. I'm actually very excited about it. Since this cleanse I've gotten very into juices, and I've found that I missed them! I even ended up purchasing several in between. :-) So we'll see how round 2 goes!

drink fresh juice @juicelandaustin

OK, so on day 3 I'm acutely aware of the fact that I've "cheated" for 2 out of 3 of my juice cleanse days. But the honest the truth is, I'm OK with that. To remind us all, "cheating" entailed a handful of pistachios, some crystallized ginger, and a bag of frozen peas (defrosted and cooked, with a little salt, of course)!

Still, day 3 brought new dedication to stay just on juice and tea and water. How did it go? Well, I DEFINITELY felt the need to eat food, especially around lunchtime, which was always the time I ended up snacking on real food. I made it past that milestone, yay!

I also managed to do some Ashtanga yoga, though not the entire thing. I made it to asana #5 in the seated sequence, which isn't bad given my limited caloric intake. In fact, it felt really good. I felt like I was able to engage my lower bandhas in a way I hadn't before.

Other things I noticed today (also yesterday, though I'm not sure I mentioned them):
  • My nose is occasionally runny, and I've been sneezing a bit. 
  • I'm SO COLD! It's about 90 degrees here in Austin, and it feels hotter if you're in the sun or a car. Yet whenever I'm in the apartment, a store, or any place where there's any breeze or AC, I'm cold. (Great idea do to a hockey game last night, wasn't it? LOL.)
  • The taking of an herbal laxative on day one has kept me loose for days 2 and 3, no more required!
  • More water between juices helps with hunger (duh).
  • My primary craving (every day!) was for a banana.
When I picked up my juices this morning, I wanted a pick-me-up, as I was missing my coffee and feeling sluggish. The girl at the counter was friendly, helping me decide how to make yerba matte less yucky. She was on her way to make me a lovely sounding version with pineapple and cayenne, when I changed my request to the yerba matte latte that grossed me out last week. My thought was I'd try it without the agave--no luck though, I drank 1/2 of it and was nauseous. I don't think yerba matte is for me, else the hemp milk is just too much. (I've never been a "drink milk in a significant quantity" type of person--of any milk, even the alternatives--although I use them often for smoothies and baking.)

Anyway, I ended up going to Whole Foods to have food on hand for tomorrow. It wasn't so bad, and I even found myself looking at what juices they have. I plan to do a smoothie in the morning, unless of course I'm craving the organic omega-3 eggs, the smoked salmon, the organic cauliflower, avocados, or bananas, blackberries, blueberries, apple, and pear that I bought! :-) I plan to have a salad with those ingredients for lunch, and a light halibut with bok choy for dinner.

Around 5 pm I felt really wiped, but I'd also gone to the chiropractor who put my body back in alignment after I'd done a great job knocking it out, sitting in front of my laptop with bad posture for too long, putting together my upcoming workshop content (see http://ajourneyintohealth.blogspot.com/2014/05/upcoming-workshop-announcement.html). I was so sluggish that at 6:30pm, before teaching a Hatha class, I caved and had a banana! Oh well.

I do like the idea of doing this once a month. My hypothesis is that it should be easier to break poor habits by cleansing more regularly. At least 3 days out of the month, my body would get a break from the toxins I love: coffee, chocolate, and alcohol! Speaking of which, I'm not sure when those will get re-introduced, but my guess is that a nice dark chocolate will be the first on the list--it was last time!

03 June 2014

JuiceLand Juice Cleanse Day 2: Body Hate & Bad Hockey

Update: I'm doing another 3 day starting 6/26. I'm actually very excited about it. Since this cleanse I've gotten very into juices, and I've found that I missed them! I even ended up purchasing several in between. :-) So we'll see how round 2 goes!

drink fresh juice @juicelandaustin

Well with no celery and more variety of juices, there isn't much to say about Day 2.  The juices were fine; it was me who wasn't.

I cheated again with the crystallized ginger and handful of pistachios, and then had a bag of frozen peas (cooked of course). Sigh. Around lunch time I just really wanted to eat FOOD! I then ended up in a funk about how much weight I'd gained over the past few years, but decided that I was going to don a bathing suit and go to the pool to get some sun ANYWAY. That was all fine until a gang of kids came and started making comments about "the lady's bootie". Fortunately I was enthralled with Bruce H. Lipton's Biology of Belief and was able to ignore most of it before I left at my usual time.

I tried to do some exercise too--I decided to pull out my difficult Bar Method DVD because I didn't make it to a class, but then I found I really couldn't do much. I desperately need another chiropractic adjustment, so everything just feels off , and that has nothing to do with juice.

Overall I felt disappointed in myself, which led to old familiar feelings of hating my body. But as I rode to the Cedar Park Center to watch the Texas Stars get their butts whipped in game 6 of the AHL Western Conference Finals, I decided that I could spend those three hours beating myself up with automatic negative thoughts, or I could go and have fun. I decided on the latter.

It was somewhat more difficult than usual to smell things and not want all the nasty food stuffs there. One smell that stood out in particular for me was ketchup (which I never eat, weird!)

I slept mostly OK, but woke up to a nightmare about discovering that my juice was ground up body parts--likely due to a comment made yesterday by a yoga student's husband, who said that in the 60s or 70s there was a movie like that, though I can't find any reference to it.

More than yesterday, I am thinking this would be a good once-a-month "clean house" kind of thing. Although I will admit to getting excited about eating food. Honestly, what I really have been craving is a banana.

02 June 2014

JuiceLand Juice Cleanse: The Celery Madness of Day 1

Update: I'm doing another 3 day starting 6/26. I'm actually very excited about it. Since this cleanse I've gotten very into juices, and I've found that I missed them! I even ended up purchasing several in between. :-) So we'll see how round 2 goes!

drink fresh juice @juicelandaustin

A few weeks ago I got a wild hair to try another juice cleanse. (In fact, I thought it might be a good idea to do a little mini-cleanse at the start of each month.) I played around on JuiceLand's web site and decided to go hard core, for the "Purify" package. Here's what happened on Day 1.

Because I was teaching Sunday morning it was best to pick up my juice Saturday night. That was totally convenient; I was excited, until I got home and realized how many of my juices were green. This turned out to be the correct instinct: I HATE celery. I don't tend to eat celery, and I should have known because I can always overtaste it in veggie stock. Of course celery was in EVERY green juice, as well as the one other juice that wasn't green (that was better). I was totally relieved it wasn't in my Green Hemp Milk, which I added on for more calories.

The other thing I learned is that I need variety. Having 2 of the same juices (2 Cold Pressed Green) two times (also 2 Cocolillys) just wasn't working for me. Fortunately, I sent email to every address they had for cleanses, and they agreed that they'd allow me to customize my order for an extra $8 (worth it!) and leave the celery out of the next day's batch. When I got to the store however, there was a mix up with the customization, and so we ended up taking some bottles out of the cooler to get the order right. (Apparently the cleanse juices aren't made at that particular site.) Whew!

I had a pounding headache pretty much all day long, but I hadn't slept well the prior two nights due to nightmares and general restlessness, so I attributed it to that. When I still had the headache after a nap though, I started wondering whether it was that + my love of coffee. (I had been better though--only drinking it before noon!)

I did cheat a little bit: I felt nauseous after drinking yet.another.green...I noticed this when flipping over onto my belly outside by the pool. I came inside and had a few pieces of crystallized ginger and a handful of pistachios because I was feeling desperate.

Another thing that I'm re-learning: I like to chew my food! It's just not as satisfying to me to be drinking everything. It must be that cephalic phase digestive response, and I'm wondering whether not deriving as much pleasure from my food offsets any nutrient absorption I'm getting from the fact that it's somewhat pre-digested for me. I ended up skimming through the online screening of "Super Juice Me"(it seemed relevant), and all I could think was "BUT I LIKE BROCCOLI!!!" (the narrator mentions that juicing has been beneficial for him because he hates vegetables like broccoli). I enjoy eating healthy fruits and vegetables--I could do it all day long!

I also found myself pretty hungry later in the evening, and wishing I hadn't used up my last lemon in my water, because I WANTED to make a Master Cleanse lemonade drink. (I had tried this cleanse--for experimental purposes of course--back in May, and lasted 8 out of the 10 days with little hunger.) I'm not sure why I could drink the same thing all day long, and not feel hungry, while on the Master Cleanse yet not feel this way drinking different flavors of vegetable and fruit juice. Hmmm....

And one really rare occurrence, before I pack this up for Day 2: I ended up sleeping through my 5am alarm this morning. I have a Zen alarm clock, one that chimes more frequently and intensely the longer you ignore it. It took me a LONG WHILE to figure out it was going off. I decided not to go to Barre class this morning, and to sleep in until 7:30. So yay, I slept well! On to Day 2.

01 June 2014

Celebrating Life: National Cancer Survivors Day

When Heather Von  St. James asked me to write something to help her spread the word about mesothelioma and it's causes for National Cancer Survivors day, of course I agreed. But what would I say? My only personal experience with mesothelioma was back in 1999, when my boyfriend at the time was told he had cancer. The doctor originally thought it was mesothelioma, so of course I did a few internet searches to see what I could learn.

The most common risk factor for malignant mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a material used by builders and construction workers as insulation before people learned it was carcinogenic (in the late 1970s). What I didn't fully realize before Heather reached out to me and I watched her touching story is that mesothelioma isn't a "disease of the past" because we now know better. And, it has the potential to affect many more than those who had the misfortune of installing or working directly with it.

Here are just a few interesting facts* about how asbestos and mesothelioma continue to impact our lives, even in 2014:
  • "Some 30 million pounds of asbestos are still used each year in the United States."
  • "The number one cause of occupational cancer in the United States is asbestos...."
  • "Asbestos is still mined in several countries throughout the world, including Canada, and is exported to many industrialized and developing countries."
  • "Asbestos can still be found in myriad homes, schools, and commercial or industrial buildings."
  • "Asbestos was once used in more than 3,000 consumer products, including common household items such as toasters and hair dryers, some of which may still be in use."
*Selected from http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-cancer/asbestos-facts-statistics.htm.

I've never had a cancer diagnosis, so I write this blog with all due respect to my survivor friends and former colleagues. I can't pretend to understand what it's like, how scary it can be. But what I know from my own experience and training about healing the body-mind is that one must cultivate three things:
  1. An understanding. Absorbing as much learning as one can about dis-ease, adding an interpretation to it. In other words, gathering not just knowledge, but wisdom.
  2. A recognition that one is unique, yet not alone. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, different life experiences that created our bodies and minds. What applies to one person doesn't necessarily apply to all. Yet our individualities fit together to create our whole world--we each have parts to play.
  3. A healthy attitude. Here I don't just mean blind optimism or positivity. I mean having an authentic and real love for life, cultivating compassion toward self during trying times, and desiring to be open and to feel in this world, despite the inevitable ups and downs.
When I watched Heather's video (http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/#.U4c7ZyjLNYo), I realized she exhibited all these qualities. Additionally, she felt inspired to help others understand more about this preventable disease, in the hopes that just one more life might be saved. That is one of her parts to play.

This National Cancer's Survivors Day,  I encourage you to take a few moments to gain some understanding about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos. (Good sources include http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/, http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-exposure/, and Heather's blog.) Recognize that this dis-ease still can affect each and every one of us, because we are a collective here on planet earth. And last but not least, open your heart, do not live in fear, and live your life to its fullest, each and every day!