I Left My Corporate Job Eight Years Ago To Teach Yoga!

Today is my 8th anniversary of 08/08/08!!!!!!!! I like all those 8s :-)
Eight years ago today, on August 8, 2008, I left my corporate job of over 20 years at UPS and began my new journey as owner/founder of Yoga For Real – it’s yoga for real people, for real life, for real results! Woohooo!!! 
I had been teaching yoga off-and-on part time since 2000 and felt called to get completely out of the corporate world and into a less stressful and more purposeful life. So, 11 years before I was eligible to retire, I boogied on out of there. 
I am so thankful! God is good! I’m looking forward to seeing where all God leads me this month, this year and onward. 
Thanks to family, special friends and clients who believe in me, encourage me and for all who have attended and/or are attending my classes and workshops. 
I truly want to use any and all gifts and talents God has given me to help myself and others live the best, most whole, purposeful and loving lives possible while we are on this earth – for our good and God’s glory. 

This has been quite a journey and I’ll share more of it soon.

Please pray for my continued journey and I will pray for yours. Will you celebrate with me today?! Woohoo!!!

Pay Attention To Your Daily Transitions

Think about all the transitions you go through in a typical day…. Transitioning from sleep to getting ready for your day… transitioning from home to work, school or other activities… transitioning back to your home and family life… transitioning from all the various roles you take on in one day… transitioning between projects, phone calls, meetings, classes, clients, patients, etc….
Sometimes do you transition from one activity or role to another without even slowing down? Do you just rush from one activity to the next without ever stopping to take a break? Do you “take your work home with you”? Do you drag your home life frustrations into your work life or vice versa? Do you feel like all your daily activities just kinda slide into one another?
Instead, how about if you create some ritual or activity that helps you be more present in each current activity/role throughout your day? Here are a few suggestions – and feel free to make up your own and share them with me! 
1) Between activities, take a Five Breath “Breathing Break” to get yourself centered, leaving the activity you just completed and moving fully into the next activity.
2) Stretch and move your body for a One-Minute “Stretch Break” (Hint: You can do this simultaneously with your “Breathing Break”!)
3) Give yourself a double thumbs-up and say (out loud if possible <grin>), “I’m done with that. I did my best. I’m moving on.”
4) Say a short prayer, offering up what you just completed and seeking guidance and direction for your next activity.
What other ones do you come up with? 
Try these for today and notice the difference they make in your day, OK? 
Let me know how this worked for you!

Simplify Your Life

“Summer Break” is here, yet sometimes with the extra activities of vacations, kids/grandkids home from school, lawn care, catching up on home projects and a multitude of possible activities, you may feel you need a break from Summer Break ;-).

Check out my RealQuickTip “Simplify Your Life” below as you get into your summer activities!

Cheri’s RealQuickTip: Simplify Your Life!! 
Our lives become so busy, so complicated, so hectic! Do you sometimes just want to” get off the ride”, catch your breath, and get away from the busy-ness for a while? Do you want to holler “Re-do!!” like when you were playing a game with friends when you were little?
You know, it’s not gonna spontaneously happen all on it’s own and some gracious benefactor is not likely to come along and say “You’re too busy. Let me handle everything for you… forever… for free.” (or if they do come along, send ’em to me too!! heehee!!)…
But the good news is, you can simplify your life! Everything doesn’t have to come to a screeching halt, but you can slooow down a bit and choose what you want to spend your time and energy on.
Sure, it takes some discipline and commitment, but you can do it! And remember, it’s your life – you get to decide!
So, look at your schedule… look at your stuff… look at your habits… and just start where you are to identify specific areas you can begin to simplify now. Stick with it – you can do it!
Imagine (see it and feel it) what a simpler version of your life will feel like, then take your first step toward it!

“Train Your Mind Like A Puppy!”

Do you tend to think (or obsess or regret) about things in the past? Do you tend to think (or worry) about things in the future?
How much of your thinking time is either in the past (stuff that’s already happened) or in the future (stuff that hasn’t happened yet)? 
It seems a common ailment that we do not spend much time truly focused on the present moment, the present task, the people we are with at this very moment.
Instead, we are jumping back into the past and dredging up things or we are leaping into the future wishing for things or looking forward to things or even worrying about things that haven’t happened yet.
While there’s nothing wrong with visiting the past or the future, do you tend to live in those places much more than you do the present moment of your life? Do you miss what is happening right now because you’ve traded it for thinking about something that’s already happened or something that hasn’t happened yet? What beauty are you forgoing right now?
Would you believe that training your mind like a puppy will help you live more and appreciate more in the present moment? Several years ago, I read this tip about meditation and share it in all my meditation classes and workshops. Here’s the scoop:
This requires you to stop regularly throughout your day and think about what you are thinking about! :-)
If you realize that your mind has run off into the past, call it back to the present moment – just like you call back a little puppy that dashes off. If you realize that your thoughts have run off to dwell on something in your future, call your thoughts back to the here and now.
You understand how the concept works when you are training a little puppy. It wants to run and wander and explore constantly and you have to call it back to your side. Same with your mind. While it’s ok to wander and explore sometimes, you must train your mind to come back to the present and focus on the task, the beauty, the person, the conversation, etc. that’s happening right here, right now. 
So, your challenge for today is to observe your own mind and your own thoughts throughout your day. When you find your mind wandering off to the past or the future, call it back  to the present moment, just like training a little puppy.
Notice what is happening right now. Really explore this moment of your life… this breath… it’s really all that truly exists. 

Autumn Says It’s Time To Let Go

Well, it’s Fall (or Autumn if you prefer) and what a beautiful season!! Fall is a time for vibrant colors and also a time to let go. 

Below are excerpts from two previous newsletters regarding lessons we can learn from Fall.

I hope you enjoy the short articles!

Tip Of The Month: Learn From Autumn
(from October 2008 Newsletter)

This time of year is a time of change in nature. Learn from nature and let this be a time of change for you too. There is a cleanness and crispness to the air. The leaves change colors and show their vibrancy and beauty. The leaves eventually fall off and provide a beautiful carpet for the earth. The trees stand tall and prepare for a period of stillness even though there is a lot unseen going on to prepare for the new life in the Spring.

Let’s breathe into this season and use it to be bold and bright and vibrant in our daily lives. Let’s let go of some things (what do you need to let go of?) in order to create a stillness and a space within us for something new and beautiful to arrive in our lives soon!! Release. Rejuvenate. Renew!!

Cheri’s RealTip: Learn From Autumn – It’s Time To Let Go!
(from October 2011 Newsletter)
Who is with me and loves this season?! Ready to enjoy the cooler temperatures… the bright blue skies… the crisp air…  then a bit later, the colorful leaves – beau-ti-ful!… then when it’s the right time, the trees release those leaves. 
That’s the lesson I want us to think about… releasing things from our lives at the right time. What would happen if the trees that are supposed to release their leaves never let go? I’m thinking that would not be a healthy tree for long. 
Take a look at your schedule. What are you continuing to hold on to in your daily/weekly/monthly/yearly schedule that you no longer enjoy or that is just too much? Is it the right time to let go? We don’t want to just start releasing stuff willy-nilly, but if it no longer serves your highest good and it’s the right time, release it!
In yoga class, we do breathing exercises. We focus on the inhale and we focus on the exhale. Both are needed… bringing the breath in during the inhale and also releasing the breath during the exhale. If we decided we liked drawing breath in so much that we just tried to hold onto the inhale way past the time that it had served it’s purpose or way longer than it was healthy for us, we’d be in trouble! We need the exhale… the release. 
So what things in your schedule, or in your house, or in your project list, or in your relationships is it the right time to release? 
Just like the trees, when we let go, it creates the opportunity for new life to come again. What is ready to bless your life, just waiting for you to let go and make space for it?

Yoga For Emotional and Mental Stability

In Class This Week, we’ll focus on three things:
  1. Lunges – We’ll practice variations of the lunge pose, including Warrior 1 modifications, low lunge and high lunge. These poses stretch the groin and legs, strengthen your legs and arms and increase your balance.
  2. Emotional and Mental Stability – We’ll do an 8-minute, 4-pose soothing Kundalini Yoga set (kriya) that does wonders for your nervous system in a very short amount of time and will leave you feeling mentally and emotionally calm, relaxed and stable. It’s my favorite – works every time! Oh yeah!!
  3. Pranic Meditation – In this 5-minute meditation, you’ll focus on your breath and the prana (life force) that is carried by your breath. According to Yogi Bhajan, this meditation “fertilizes the brain” to help eliminate depression and fatigue, provides a constant flow of energy, and boosts your health and intuition.
I hope you will join me this week for this very beneficial practice for your physical, mental and emotional health!

3 Easy Steps To Improve Your Health and Well-Being

The other day, I was thinking how important two things are: breathing and posture. I thought “If I could get everyone to breathe better and to have better posture, what a difference that would make!” Well, I happen not to know everyone, but I do know you, so we’ll start there! :-)

Then a bit later, I thought “Oh. And move! Gotta add that one!”

So, let me encourage you (and me) on these three things and allow yourself feel the difference in your health and well-being!

First, stop throughout your day for “breathing breaks” and just focus on your breath. Notice if you’ve been holding your breath or breathing shallow. Deepen your breath and take time to draw the life in on the inhales and relax as you exhale. Do this for 15 seconds to a minute several times throughout your day.

Second, take mind of your posture! Stand and sit up nice and tall! Draw your lowest shoulder blade tips down your back as you lengthen the base of your skull up. Lengthen your sternum (breast bone) up as you draw your lower front ribs down. Notice how much easier it is to breathe! See how this goes hand-in-hand with the first thing?!

Third, move your body!! We were designed to move. Moving helps every system in your body. Be grateful you can move and do it! Move in a way that’s fun to you whether it’s yoga, running, swimming, taking a walk, dancing in your living room… just move! Start with five minutes, then build up to 30 minutes a day if you can – any amount of movement is better than none!! By moving your body, you are increasing your health and well-being and you are honoring the One who designed you to move.

Be blessed in your breath, your posture and your movement.

Written By: Cheri Harvey, Owner/Founder Yoga For Real

3 Tips For Better Sleep

I think we are a sleep-deprived people. Uncomfortable sleep… not enough sleep… not realizing the importance of good sleep…. The results are not good, but the great news is that we can reset our sleep by doing a few things better.

  1. Set your bed time. Good parents do this for their children because we want them to feel good and perform well during their day. Hmmm… why don’t we do this for ourselves? I know I need to set my bed time a little earlier because I have a tendency to sit down about 9:30 or 10:00 to read or watch a little TV before I go to bed and the next thing I know, I wake up on the couch at 3:00 a.m. – ugh! So, I need to start getting ready for bed at 10:00 instead of sitting down to watch TV ;-). I heard a good tip last week – set your alarm to remind you it’s bed time.
  2. Get comfortable. Check what you wear, the temperature in your house, the clutter in your bedroom, the state of your mattress and pillow. These all contribute to a good night’s sleep. I need to buy an new mattress big-time (this means shopping – heeellllllp!!) and I’m trying out different pillows because some go flat or “dead” very quickly. What can you change in your environment to make your sleep more comfortable?
  3. Do some gentle yoga poses, stretches, breathing and meditation before you sleep. It really makes a great difference! Even just a few stretches and three minutes of quiet meditation releases tension from your body and generates calm in your nervous system to help you get a good night’s sleep. Try it and let me know how it works for you!
Here’s to your better night’s sleep starting tonight!

By: Cheri Harvey, Owner/Founder Yoga For Real

Yoga Is A Balancing Act

In last week’s classes, we focused on balance. Yoga is a great tool to increase your balance and restore your balance it if it’s gotten away from you.

When I first started taking yoga classes, my balance was way off. I had always had really good balance. Anytime I’d go through a parking lot, I’d turn the sidewalk edges and cement parking stop thingies into my personal “balance beams” and boogie on across them with a big grin and no problem. However, it got to where I could not balance! Ugh! How frustrating! After taking yoga classes for a while, I noticed that my balance was back and I could have fun on my parking lot “balance beams” again! Whoohoo!

One of the cool things about yoga is that what you do in class translates to your life. So, as I was learning balancing poses in class, it was building balance back into my body, mind and life!! Yeeeehaaaaw y’all!!

I now use balancing poses as a barometer for my life. If I’m all wobbly, it tells me my life is a bit (or a lot) out of balance, so I need to practice my yoga more to bring all of me back into balance. And you know what? It works every time!

Yoga builds balance in so many ways – here are just a few:

  • The standing poses create balance between the grounding you get through your feet, legs and hips… and the lengthening upward of the spine, head  and arms.
  • The one-legged balancing poses create stability and strength to keep you stable and aware as you walk, stand, run, etc.
  • Doing poses on both sides of your body brings balance to the right and left sides of your body, since one side tends to be more dominant and sometimes one side is tighter than the other.
  • Yoga also helps balance the two hemispheres of your brain – yeah, this is your brain on yoga!
  • Your nervous system is balanced between the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight mode) and parasympathetic nervous system (relax response) which is great since in our stressed out lives, we can easily get stuck in the fight-or-flight mode.

I could go on and on about the balancing benefits of yoga, but for now, just begin or continue your practice of poses, breathing and meditation and increase or restore balance in your body, mind and spirit – your whole life!!

Copyright 2012, Cheri Harvey, Yoga For Real, LLC., www.yogaforreal.com.

A Little Dab’ll Do Ya!

When you were growing up, do you remember that commercial for Brylcreem – the hair styling product for men – that said “a little dab’ll do ya!“? The point being that you didn’t need a whole big glob of the product to make a big difference – just a little bit would do the trick.

I feel the same way about yoga! Even just a little bit of yoga makes a huge positive difference! Let’s face it – some yoga demonstrations and classes can be quite intimidating. But, just starting with very easy do-able stuff like learning to breathe better, learning better posture, learning even a few poses, and giving yourself permission to relax will bring about changes you cannot even imagine right now!

It’s so cool when people come to my class saying, “I really don’t think I can do yoga.” and when class is over, they say, “That wasn’t hard and I feel SO much better!” Yep, a little dab’ll do ya! :-)

Of course, once you taste the goodness of yoga and start feeling it’s benefits, you will want to do more and you will know that you can.

Here are a few tips as you begin exploring yoga:

  • Start simply and honor your limits. Don’t dive into the deep end and over-do by trying hard stuff you aren’t ready for! Listen to your body – and find the right class and teacher that will honor where you are.
  • Focus on what you can do.  Don’t worry about what you can’t do.  You’ll get so many benefits from practicing what you can do, that the rest won’t really matter.
  • Be patient and keep practicing. Don’t expect all your problems to go away after a couple of classes. You didn’t get this way overnight and yoga won’t correct everything overnight, but keep practicing and the benefits keep coming!
  • Build up gradually. To grow, we must challenge ourselves. In yoga, we want a gentle challenge and to stretch our limits – but never pain, strain or ignoring limits. Take your time – there’s no clock you are racing against.

There’s so much to be gained from a good yoga practice, but you’ve gotta start! So, give yoga a try! Even a little dab’ll do ya!

Copyright 2012, Cheri Harvey, Yoga For Real, LLC., www.yogaforreal.com.