The Last One

In many of my experiences walking into into a group home to share Yoga I am often met with much reluctance. I think this is partly because so many view yoga as it is something you do on the floor with a somewhat healthy body in strange shapes.

For someone in a wheelchair this idea seems obviously impossible and out of their ability or comfort zone, and rightly so.

Several years ago I was standing in the kitchen of a home a couple years ago trying my best to cajole a few guys into joining me. I often have to frame it in terms of “hey, come over here and hang out with me for a minute”. I get to chatting and asking them questions and engaging in them, and then usually before long I have them hook, line and sinker. This particular day was just that except that the only person in the kitchen was a large man who made several wisecracks to me about doing yoga.

I started with my usual onslaught of engaging questions like what did you have for lunch, did you see who won the football game, what is your favorite season, how long have you lived in Colorado, etc. Within a few minutes, we are in a deep conversation about the mountains and things we agree make Colorado awesome. After a short while passed and he made another crack about yoga, I giggled and said we had actually just been practicing yoga for the last fifteen minutes.

I explained to him what the definition and essence of yoga is and that is exactly what we have been doing. Gotcha! I exclaimed as he grumbled something about weird yoga people. I offered him a professional foot rub and the rest is history.

Since that day, he and I have met twice a month for 1:1 yoga for over two years.

Here is what it looks like—I arrive and wake up him for a nap, I insist he come out of his room (he prefers isolation and even though I honor his preference, part of the deal with me is some resemblance of boundaries and expectations), he shuffles his large and partially paralyzed body to an easy chair in the living room, I plop down on the floor and rub his feet and then with his permission I move his body for him. I stretch his left side and listen to his horrible wise-cracks and jokes.

Just like that, I was able to get a skeptic to see that Yoga is union, coming together and finding a sense of self in the moment.

In time I have watched as his confidence grew and we went from me moving his left side to him agreeing to arm wrestle me, pull me up from the floor and reach for me. Prior to Yoga he often said “I can’t move my left arm, it is paralyzed”. Now he sees that while it may not be as strong as it was before his accident, it is moving some and he is building strength in his once really strong arms.

After about a year of working with this man I arrived one day to learn he was in the intensive care unit. It didn’t occur to me once to not swiftly drive over to the hospital and complete our yoga session there.

He was intubated but awake when I walked into the strange sights, smells and sounds of an ICU. I introduced myself to his nurse and explained I was his yoga teacher. The quizzical look on her face was something I see often when people don’t fully get what I do. I asked her if I could rub his feet and she agreed that he would probably like that. As I stood next to his head to say hello, his eyes opened and he looked shocked to see me. I teased him that he couldn’t get out of yoga by being in the ICU so we better get busy. His eyes filled with tears and even though he couldn’t speak, I understood what he was saying.

As I finished up rubbing his feet and was packing my things his heart rate and breathing became labored and alarms got louder and louder. His oxygen was tanking despite being on a ventilator. I instinctively put my hand on his chest and said “Watch me. Breathe with me”. After about 30 rounds of deep breathing, his numbers returned to as normal as they could given his situation. The nurse stood with her eyes wide open. I told him I was going to glue a picture of my face to the ceiling so that every time his oxygen dropped he’d see my face and remember to breathe. His eyes twinkled.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to showcase my students’ yoga practice to people who would never see yoga through this particular lens. The first feat is getting the students to see it’s not twisted bodies on the floor, the second is showing staff or caregivers the possibilities. Moving his body for him created not only connection but also the movement his once healthy body still desired.

This beautiful soul had his last foot rub a couple weeks ago and took his final breath this week. I will deeply miss our time together and what he gave my life. It is usually the least likely Yoga students that bring me the most. I hope that he valued our time together as much as I did. He was a special one.

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Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

For the last few months I have been so drawn to a specific and potent aroma. I can’t stop reaching for it and I got really curious about why my brain and my body has been wanting this one so much.

This divine floral is all about the heart, being vulnerable, and finding sweet moments of childlike joy.

This year has been a little rough in my world. Some aspects of my life have flourished into greatness, while other areas have been heart breaking and have brought about quite a bit of grief and sorrow.

Truth is, my heart has been hurting. There I has been some loss and with that opportunities for acceptance that are seeking to emerge.

Ahhh. So that is why my spirit has been craving this smell. It’s sweet floral is an instant soothing to the soul. And the heart.

One of the most fragrant among essential oils. In fact, it is being used as a critical ingredient in the legendary perfume Chanel No. 5.

Ylang Ylang helps us connect to our heart and become balanced by releasing negative emotions and deep emotional sadness. It calms the heart and balances emotions during times of high stress, crisis, tension, or depression.

More importantly, it opens the heart to receive more love and acceptance. 

As a reflection of Ylang Ylang’s ability to restore a healthy flow of positivity in the heart, the essential oil helps encourage a healthy circulatory system. It improves blood flow, fights inflammation, and assist with other heart problems.

The Emotional Benefits:
• The oil of a childlike heart
• Powerful for melting the walls around your heart
• Increases love, compassion, trust, empathy, and intimacy
• Softly releases any negative emotion or trauma you’re carrying within
• Use when you’re struggling to connect, put yourself out there, or be vulnerable and tender

Ylang Ylang, meaning “flower of flowers”, has its petals used in Indonesia to decorate the beds of newlyweds due to its aphrodisiac properties. Just so ya know.

Other health benefits::
• Promotes libido and hormonal balance
• Favorite for heart health, including healthy blood pressure, healthy heart rate, and more
• Calms the stress response in the body
• Used for a very restorative sleep

It is just so good. The investment is so worth it because it is so versatile for uses. Check out this gorgeous ebook that breaks down the many uses.

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Calling Your Energy Back

How can you live without knowing what your spirit is doing and what your spirit is saying to you?”

― Caroline Myss

Learning to be in touch with who you are at the deepest level is the GREATEST gift you can give yourself in this lifetime. If you don’t know who you are, there is no chance you will live your best life, and that is a tragedy. One of the very first ah-ha moments when I had my great wake up was realizing that I was not my anger or my sadness or my physical form. I was learning that I was something much more powerful than that.

Part of being human is the tendency to want to control things. The trouble with this is that there is a whole Universe that exists outside of the realms of your control, and if you spend your whole life clinging to your PLANS you miss out on receiving what may often be a far better option than what you could have ever mustered up alone. When this clicked for me, my life truly changed. When I released the control, I began to flow with life and was open to the lessons and whatever was showing up in my life rather than holding so tight to the control of how I thought life should be.

I learned early on that in order for me to be my very best I had to create time each day to prepare my spirit for what was to lie ahead and at the end of the day to call my spirit back. This practice helps you to discern what you’re engaging in that either feeds your spirit, or takes away your spirit. When we connect to ourselves on this deeper level, we realize that we are not all the labels that have been stuck to us and we are not the outward expression of our body. We come to realize that our spirit is fed with being aligned with love and that some things steal that love, and steal our spirit.

Remember that each day is a new beginning. Your task each day is to learn the practice of consciously entering your body and your day. Begin by focusing attention on your entire day from morning to evening. Take a few moments to review where you need to go, and who you need to see. Ask yourself if you have expectations about the day and notice if you feel stressed or comfortable. Are you prepared? Then sit with yourself for a few moments and open yourself up to whatever comes during the day.

We go about our day so often asleep and unconscious. W go through the motions, allowing ourselves to get caught up in the whirlwind of expectations, judgments, and ultimately disappointments. We invest our energy into other people’s dysfunction and often hop on the familiar “what if” train. Sometimes we also give so much of ourselves that we feel unbalanced and drained.

This can all be exhausting.

Just as the morning practice of welcoming in and opening yourself is so important, the evening ritual is equally important. As you prepare to enter sleep, review how you used your energy during the day, how you invested your spirit, what you learned about the investments you should or shouldn’t have made. I like to imagine that I left tiny little sparks of light with each step, with each moment of eye contact, with each smile or touch. I think about my reactions to things that were not mine to react to. Did I waste energy in gossip, complaining, comparison or judgment? Those are all energy drainers. I watch my day in my mind and see where there was light left and where I contributed to a lesser energy that takes away the goodness of my spirit.

And finally, as you close out your review of the day, ask yourself, “How do I open myself to receive guidance as I sleep?”

Then listen.

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The Invitation

In these uncertain times I find myself longing for what I know and for what brings me a sense of feeling grounded. For many years I come back time and time again to this poem. I share it with those who I know are willing to meet me in the space of vulnerability and see me from the heart of compassion. For me this poem invites me into myself and reveals the truths of who I am, or who I strive to be.

The Invitation

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.


It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.


I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me

is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.

And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”


It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.


It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.


It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.


I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

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Simply a Reflection

The beauty you see in me is a reflection of you.

rumi

Tell me what do you love or admire about yourself?

I asked this question in all of my adaptive and traditional Yoga classes last week as we delved into the idea of Self-Love. The answers often are so sad when it comes to my students with brain injuries. You see these people have lost what most of us value and are having to rediscover the aspects of themself that they actually like. Most have lost their livelihood, their purpose, their families, their independence, their freedom to come and go, and oso much more. When they look in the mirror they often see the challenges and the impact of the injury so finding the qualities within can usually be really challenging. I also have enjoyed asking my group of students that are all over the age of 85 and living in assisted living. I am startled that so few of them can proclaim something that they love about themselves. Perhaps it is a generational thing where they didn’t spend as much time as younger people these days who seem consumed with the Self.

The answer seem to be so hard for them to find.

I ask the question anyway and the answer is usually that they are blank on what they love about themselves.

I keep asking, though.

On one particular day in a class that included a range of ages and abilities, I asked a woman living with a brain injury who is close to my age and is often very down on herself the question. When I asked her what she liked about herself her eyes dropped down to the ground and she quietly said, “nothing”. She was hunched over with her arms on her legs looking so hopeless and sad. This woman is so kind, so willing, so sweet and is so beautiful.

I knelt down so that I was in her eye gaze and asked again. And again, I got the same response.

I knew that I was about to open a beautiful can of worms and an opportunity to teach exactly what Rumi was saying.

I turned the question around. I asked this woman what she liked about me. She looked at me and easily said, “You are brave, and strong and so beautiful”.

We smiled at each other and I looked into her eyes.

My response was this—I am simply a reflection of you. What exists in me is also in you otherwise you would not recognize it. We are indeed a mirror reflection of each other.

She sat tall and said, “really?” Yes my sweet friend, really.

I learned this concept many years ago and try to always remember it, especially when I am with someone who feels that they are not enough or someone who struggles with identifying what makes them special. I ask them to think about someone they admire and what qualities do they see in them that they like? It is those qualities that also exist in ourselves.

Consider that. What you see in others exists in you. Kindness, integrity, compassion, love, bravery, beauty, honesty, humor, etc. If it was not part of you and familiar, you would not recognize it.

The tricky and often sticky part about this is that when we also see a quality within others that we find less appealing, it is because that too is familiar in us. When this happens to me I say, “ahhhhhh yes, there you are to remind me what I am here to work on”.

When we stumble through those ordinary days of self doubt and wondering what is really good about ourselves this can be an amazing concept to return to. When we feel burdened by life’s hardness and separate from the ideals in which the world has attempted to create, and we feel so less than, simply look into the eyes of someone you admire and know that the only way you can see those qualities is because they also exist in you.

It is familiar. It is a mirror reflection of yourself.

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Self Love

This time of year can seem like we are stuck in endless amounts of cold, dark winter days that go on and on. Also for some of us the holiday hype leads to a low-energy winter drag that sometimes can last months.

Many of us also dread the month of February because the influx of romantic love seems to be everywhere. I’m all for love but I have learned over the years that without self-love, there will be no room for love-love. It’s just doesn’t happen.

For many years I was a seeker of love outside of myself. In some ways we all are—we want validation and to be seen—that is normal human behavior. My trouble came when in the truth and quiet moments with myself, I really didn’t like who I was, and actually loving myself was not even in the ball park.

Then I woke up.

I realized that my kids needed a healthy mom. They needed someone who demonstrated self love. They required a mom who was no longer angry but instead developed an acceptance for life’s hard things and took them as lessons to grow.

I also became radically aware of self care. For decades I thought self care was selfish and totally for the elite. Wow, right? I came to realize that the only way I was to find pure unconditional love was to begin by loving myself unconditionally. You attract what you are.

Today I actually coach women (and men) on the power of a deliberate self care routine to help become the very best version of yourself. It’s not all about bubble baths, although those those do help tremendously.

I crafted this essential oil blend with the intention that it dives into the areas of our brain and heart that focus on positive self love and self image. There was a lot of thought and trial and error that went into finding the perfect combination to embody self love that is purely unconditional.

Unconditional Blend

Rose: Opens the heart chakra and allows you to feel unconditional love. Creates a sense of well-being and calmness while awakening your ability for self-compassion, nurturing, and love.

Lemon: Opens the heart chakra to self-love and self-nurturing. lightens while uplifting your spirit and bringing clarity into your life.

Neroli: A natural tranquilizer and regulator of the nervous system that opens the heart chakra, uplifts your spirit, and encourages confidence, joy, and peace.

Marjoram: Restores warmth, self-compassion, and self-nurturing when feeling lonely or isolated.

Lavender: Helps you to relax, let go of the stress, and release fear, which fosters connect with the heart center and opens you up to more love.

Jasmine: Uplifting and joyous oil that balances the emotional system, soothes anxiety, and helps with depression and apathy.

Geranium: This emotional healing oil restores confidence and trust in others. It can help to heal a broken heart and open one up to love.

Ylang Ylang: This is a powerful remedy for the heart and releasing trauma from the past. This oil helps to release bottled up emotions that weigh heavy on the heart which allows for a more playful, carefree, emotionally connected and loving experience of life.

Tranquility Blend: Includes Lavender Flower, Cedarwood, Ho Wood Leaf, Ylang Ylang Flower, Marjoram Leaf, Roman Chamomile Flower, Vetiver Root, Vanilla Bean Absolute, Hawaiian Sandalwood. Encourages individuals to first reconnect with themselves and discover peace that lies within, and then to reconnect with the humanity in others. This brings a calm, tranquil, peaceful, relaxed, compassionate and connection person.

Rose quartz: Rose Quartz is the stone of universal love. It restores trust and harmony in relationships, encouraging unconditional love. Rose Quartz purifies and opens the heart at all levels to promote love, self-love, friendship, deep inner healing and feelings of peace. Calming and reassuring, it helps to comfort in times of grief. Rose Quartz dispels negativity

Plus a sprinkling of rose petals makes this blend gorgeous to look at, too.

You can purchase this gorgeous blend here or invest in my self care package and it is included along with bath bombs, soothing foot salve, yoga and meditation.

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The Way

As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.

Rumi

Over the years I have shared my story and the path that has lead me to who I am and what I do as my purpose in the world. We all have a story that has put us on the path, or maybe you’re still seeking the path?

Here is what I know and believe wholeheartedly—the path is there, we choose to take the steps or turn away.

The way is right there. We know it in our gut, and yet like myself for many years we deny the way. We look elsewhere for love, joy, purpose, and contentment but when we take that first committed step on the path that is appearing, and despite the fear and unknown, we keep going and sure enough in time that path becomes the way.

I’m forever grateful for the hard years of my life because it led me here. I am here. I am on my way. I am.

If you’re feeling lost and without purpose or love I encourage you to stop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Listen.

You already know.

Take that first step. Open up to your life and your happiness and your purpose. It’s yours. Own it.

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And So It Is

Dear life,

Grant me the courage
To change what I am capable of changing
And the grace
To accept what is beyond my control
And choose my battles wisely.

Please help me to fix what has fallen apart and is broken in my life
That would benefit from being mended
And accept what would not
And move on accordingly.

Grant me the strength
To fully seize each day
And make the most of each moment
Savouring the ones that provide me with joy, meaning and fulfilment

And remind me to treasure time spent with those I love
And pursue my passions and what uplifts and energises me
And focus on all that lies ahead of me
Rather than all that lies behind me.

Please help me to embody love
And radiate it to all whom I encounter
Regardless of whether they remain in my life
Or are no longer with me.

Please help me to remain calm and at peace
During the chaos and shifting seasons of life
And flow with it
Understanding that everything is fleeting and temporary
But that the true nature of who I am is eternal
And more than this limited body
And transitory physical experience

Please show me how to let go of fear, pain and resentment
So I can feel light, unburdened and free
And prioritise what is important
While disregarding what is not.

Please comfort me in my grief
And reassure me with the knowledge
That I will one day be reunited with those I love who have left this reality
But remain in spirit with me

And in the times when I am hurt
May you show me how to heal and move forward

In the times when I feel small and fragile
May you remind me of my inner strength

In the times when I feel weak
May you remind me of my inner power

In the times when I feel lost
May you help me rediscover purpose and meaning

In the times when I feel lonely and isolated
May you remind me that everything is interconnected

And in the times when I have lost confidence and trust in myself
May you help me remember who I am.

Words by Tahlia Hunter

(Inspired by the Serenity Prayer by Dr Reinhold Niebuhr)

Artwork by Elaine Bayley Illustrations

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A Common Question

I get asked this question all the time—why can’t I just use oils from natural food stores or Amazon?

👉🏻doTERRA’s transparent testing assured me that the rigorous testing ensures pure and potent essential oils. If you can’t get access to the companies testing, I’d steer clear. Most store bought oils are adulterated and contain synthetic and potentially harmful ingredients, even though the label says “100% pure”.

👉🏻 the sustainability practices for the earth play a huge part in what company you choose. Is the company honoring the earth by not depleting natural resources just to make a profit?

👉🏻 the ethical treatment of growers and farmers.
doTERRA makes sure that farmers and growers are not just paid, but they help contribute to the greater good by providing hospitals, schools, water lines, jobs, training and better living quality of life. It’s a true honorable partnership based on ethics. This isn’t mass produced/grown in a green house fast production. Every drop changes the lives of growers. Imagine knowing that you’re health investment is providing schools, healthcare, water and more to people all over the globe!!!?!

👉🏻the benefits of pure oils is clear. I used to use store bought and had minimal results when treating things like sleep and skin issues. Using pure and potent essential oils, I have successfully bettered my health and my families. I especially like the benefits for my students with brain injuries who respond intuitively and naturally without cognitive bias. This goes far beyond what smells good 😉

This beautiful link explains how many lives are enriched by using doTERRA.

I have a special bonus for those ready to jump in or make the switch. Message me for details.

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Competition

I recently shared my strengths according to Gallup Strengths Finder and am still digging into that theme a bit. I loved learning my too strengths, but I was also fascinated to learn my bottom ones also. Competition is the second to the bottom strength! This means competition is pretty irrelevant to me and my life.

Competition is very low in my skill set personally and professionally. That is not a good thing or a bad thing, it just reinforces my top strengths. I highly recommend taking the strengths finder test if your curious how it impacts your personal and business life.

I did some digging on competition and found some fascinating thing. Harvard business review says this about competition-

While it can sometimes be productive, too often it is actually destructive to your overall goals. That’s why people who don’t have as much of a heart to compete have advantages in life and the opportunity to be more successful.

Non competing individuals are more motivated than most of the people around them.

Here is why:

They aren’t as ego-driven.
People who compete often do so in large part to satisfy their egos. If you don’t have the heart to compete, then most likely you don’t have a big ego.

They’re less stressed.
Competition in life adds a lot of unneeded frustration. If you’re not obsessed with competing, you’re largely free of that stress. That frustration is an almost overwhelmingly negative influence on your sense of self.

They’re calmer.
A sense of calm comes over those who don’t endlessly think about how they’re going to get ahead in races of all kinds.

They wish success on others.
The person who doesn’t obsess about competition often wants others to find success as well as themselves. What’s so great about that is how success begets success.

They believe success can be shared.
Competitions are almost always win-lose situations. People who don’t want competition in their lives tend to believe in win-win scenarios. Instead of looking for ways they can outsmart their opponent, they search for methods to team up with them and overcome whatever obstacle that they face together instead of apart. By doing that, they double the chance for success.

They have inner peace.
Obsession is unhealthy, whereas peace is just around the corner once you remove competition from the equation. By focusing on improving yourself instead of beating others, you are well on your way to the inner peace everyone craves, even if some of them don’t know it.

I’m telling you, learning about your strengths can lead to so much understanding in your relationships and professional life. I am so grateful I know these things about myself because I am able to see that I am unique and while others around me may be fed by competition I don’t have to try to fit in. I can be me and I can support them as they are then. Cool, huh?

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