10 things you can do to change your life even if you’re crazy busy.

 

Many of us are so busy, that we forget take care of ourselves, or we think we just don’t have time.   Before I had kids, I had been teaching yoga for 12 years, and I had basically devoted all of my time to teaching and taking care of myself.  My life was devoted to my own growth on my terms.  Now, things are so different.  My life is devoted to my children and my work, and I barely have time to fix my hair before I leave the house.  However, I have found that I actually have time for things that are important enough to me, it just depends on my priorities.  Apparently, doing my hair is not on top of the list, but these ten things that I will share with you are, and they actually make my life better.

1. Oil Pulling

I do this every morning while I’m making my kids breakfast.    I use organic coconut oil, swish it around in my mouth for about 10 minutes and spit it out in the trash so that I don’t clog our drains.  It draws out the toxins from your system, makes your teeth whiter, and your whole mouth healthy.  It feels like you just had a professional teeth cleaning, and its chemical free.  After I finish, I brush my teeth and scrape my tongue.  A recent visit to my dentist confirmed the benefits of this practice.  She was blown away by the health of my teeth and gums.

Follow this link to read all about it….http://wellnessmama.com/7866/oil-pulling-for-oral-health/

2..Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is excellent for stimulating blood flow, the lymphatic system and the natural cleansing properties of the skin. It flakes off dry skin that helps to rejuvenate the pores, and stimulates the production of healthy oils.  It also wakes you up and makes you feel radiant.

I use an “earth therapeutics dry brush” that you can get on Amazon.com.  Before I get in the shower, I brush my whole body. Using long, upward strokes, I start with one foot, and move up the leg, and then I do the other foot and leg.  Then I brush my hips, belly, chest and back.  Then, I do both hands and arms, and my neck.  Be sure to hit all the joints where the lymph nodes live; they will love this.

3.  Rosewater and Oil on my Face.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body.  It breathes and assimilates the stuff that we put on top of it.  Basically, you don’t want to put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put  in your body, because eventually, it ends up there.   When I came to this realization, I started spending silly amounts of money on natural and organic face care products.  Then, one day, I read the ingredients of a facial serum that I loved, and realized that it was just oil!!!  Cleansers dry out my skin anyway, so I decided to just start using the oil to cleanse and moisturize.  It works for both.  It’s amazing because you save money, save your skin and body from nasty chemicals, save the earth from all that packaging, and your skin regains its natural and healthy glow.

Here’s how I do it: I just rinse my face with water, then spray rosewater, and then apply my homemade oil recipe.  Here is  recipe that I use, but you can play around with different oils depending on the type of skin that you have.

Marni’s Magical Multi-Purpose Oil

2 parts Apricot Seed Oil

1 part Rose Hip Oil (this has vitamin C which is amazing for your skin)

2 drops geranium oil

1 drop lavender oil

*you can buy rosewater at whole foods, or online.  Find one that has only roses and water.

4.  Water water water

I drink water all day long.  When I don’t drink enough, I can see the wrinkles on my face showing up, and when I drink enough, there are none.  I also notice that if I don’t drink enough water, my body feels tighter, and I have less energy.

5.  Yoga

I practice yoga regularly.  I’ve been practicing for 17 years now, and it has become something that I always do.  It is a priority, and part of who I am.  When I have more time, I practice for an hour or two, but when I have less time, I’ll just use that time to do whatever will shift or focus my energy quickly; depending on what I need.   Being a busy working mom has actually helped me to become so much more focused and efficient when I practice yoga.

6. Meditate

Nothing can benefit us the way that quiet focused time alone does. Meditation rewires the brain, helps us deal with stress better, and enhances our lives in every way.  In the warmer months, I do walking meditations in the woods by my house, and in the colder months, I sit.  I sometimes sit for just 5 minutes, and other times for 20.  Whatever I have time for, I make it happen, because I can tell he difference when I don’t do it.  I am  much nicer and happier  when I meditate.

7. Friends

I have some amazing friends who I believe are actually superheros in disguise.  We all need a few  close friends who inspire us to our potential, and totally love us for all of our crazy weirdness.  My superhero friends are people I can call when I’m struggling with something, and we can both take it really seriously and laugh at it at the same time.  They also all believe in faeries, and for me that’s important.

8. Journal

I write a lot.  I always have 3 journals; one for inspiration for the classes that I teach, one for what I want to manifest in my life, and one for all the dark crazy stuff that just needs an outlet sometimes.  Writing helps me to organize my inner self, connect to what matters to me, and stay inspired by my life.  I either read something inspiring, or write in a journal every night before I go to bed.

9. Laugh

I don’t take my self too seriously, except when I do ;).  Rather than beat myself up,  I have learned to laugh at all the ways in which I am imperfect.  Life is so much more fun that way.  Laughing with others creates connection and brings lightness to a heavy situation.

I’m noticing that I basically turn into a comedian any time I have to sit in doctor’s office.  I hate going to the doctor, and used to avoid it all costs, but now, as I get older, and my body speaks louder, I end up there more than I like.  So, I’ve turned it into an opportunity to try to make the nurses and doctors laugh.  Its a fun challenge. When they have to cut me open or look at some naked part of my body, its kind of like we’re friends already, and its less weird and more funny.

10. Get Outside

Get some sun.  Walk barefoot in the grass or mud.  Breathe fresh air.  Listen to the trees.  Hug the trees.  Go camping.  Watch birds. Notice things.

and now, this moment, we enjoy.

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My children running up our driveway with capes on.  They inspire me everyday to wake up and pay attention.  They remind me of the overflowing magic of this life.  They remind me of the miracles that happen in every cell of our bodies in every moment that we are alive.  They remind me of my own innocence that I forget about sometimes.  They remind me to sit down and shut up about all the stuff that isnt happening right now.  They remind me to use my own brilliant imagination way more often than I’m used to.  They wake me up at dawn, and in the middle of the night, so that I dont forget to wake up even when I’m sleeping…  They scream and cry every single day, and when was the last time that we did that?  When was the last time that we let ourselves really scream and cry?  Every day, they jump on the couch for an hour and I sing 5 monkeys jumping on a bed like 236 times in a row, and they never get bored.  They have a way of understanding the newness of moments even if the new moment seems similar to the one that just passed.  They know that its not, and that this new moment is a worthwhile one to enjoy.

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One of the most profound practices of yoga is to actually recognize yourself in others. Yoga is meant to teach us about how we belong to this world.  It is meant to help us to wake up and live this life with more connection to each other.

As a storyteller, I’ve learned to listen to stories as if I were every character in the story. We usually tend to identify with the hero of a story, and try to distance ourselves from all of the other characters.  We usually struggle with relating to the scary monster or wicked step-mother.  So, when I listen to a story, I widen my compassion to include all of the characters.  When you listen in this way, you begin to integrate all the parts of yourself and open the lines of communication between your own shadowy parts and the parts of yourself that live more in the light.  You begin to recognize the symbolic meaning that is wrapped into the story, and you realize universal truths that vibrate within everything.

We can use this same method of relating inside of our own relationships to others.   We can see them as a mirror that reflects all of the parts of our selves, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  When someone else does something or says something that really pushes a button, or inspires us, or makes us angry, or makes us feel happy, we can recognize that they are just pointing towards something already inside of us.  Now, this is a sobering experience….

This is absolutely one of the most challenging practices, and it is the most beautiful, because it opens us up to really taking responsibility for all that we are.  It becomes a fast track to awakening.  We recognize our own vulnerabilities when we see them in others, and instead of pulling away, we get closer. It teaches unconditional love, that holds everything.  It also enables us to actually have real friendships with others that is based on mutual wakefullness and responsibility.

The stories and myths that I study, help us to learn about our own interior spaces so that we can navigate our exterior relationships with more wisdom and intelligence.  Our relationship with others become filled with magical opportunities to wake up and aknowledge the fullness of life; the full spectrum of experience.

Fake it till you make it…

Solarplexuschakra

One of my first yoga teachers used to say, “fake it till you make it”.  I knew that she didn’t mean for us to pretend that we were something that we weren’t.  She would say that, to remind us, that in order to grow ourselves, we would need to be willing to see ourselves in a much bigger way than we were used to.

So often, we think and say that we want more money, more love, more fulfilling work, etc.  But, if we truly sat for moment and thought about what having those things would actually require of us, we might realize that we aren’t actually ready for them.  So, a big part of getting the things that we say that we want, is preparing ourselves for having them.

If we want more happiness, then we have to take responsibility for being happy.  We have to act as if we are happy right now, and then we will become a magnet for happiness.  If we want more love in our lives, then we act like love in this moment, and love will permeate our lives.  If you want more abundance, than act as if you are that already.

When you being to do this, you will see how there is probably some kind of internal resistance at first.  You might hear yourself saying things like; “I dont deserve to be happy until…”, or “I cant possibly make that kind of money doing this…”, or “I dont know enough about yoga to be a good teacher….”.

When those thoughts arise, you bow to them, and thank them for revealing your own resistances to you.  Then, you replace these thoughts with thoughts that hold the positive energy of what you actually want.

This work takes a great amount of courage, because we are taking responsability for ourselves in a radical kind of way. It requires a willingness to step fearlessly into the unknown, and to trust that you are more powerful than you realize, because it is our own light that frightens us the most….

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Marianne Williamson

practice, and all is coming…

 

 

Marni Sclaroff Yoga Session in San Francisco

Photo by Joe Longo

“Practice, and all is coming”…..the late Pattabhi Jois, father of Ashanga Yoga, used to say.  Keep showing up to your practice over and over again, forever.  Life will continue to unfold in its never-ending flow and you will do your practice.  There will be ups and downs, heart-breaks, moves, new jobs, new friends, children or not, new roles that you must play, and you will do your practice.  You will dedicate yourself to something so profound and meaningful that it will inspire you to practice it for the rest of your life.  It will be different every time because you will be different every time.  It will meet you wherever you are, and hold you when you cry, when you suffer, when you feel immense joy and gratitude.  Yoga will be there with you when you realize that you are utterly alone on this journey to yourself, and you will also realize that you are absolutely never alone on this journey, because we are all practicing right beside you.

IMG_2190Can we continue to grow ourselves,  have experiences, and challenges  and still keep our sweet innocence intact.  I think this is the great work of the spiritual journey; to live our lives with wide open curiosity and raw vulnerability, while staying firmly rooted in the wisdom that we have gathered on our journey to this moment.

An Interview from KiraGrace, purveyor of amazing yoga clothes.

 

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KiraGrace: Marni- we understand that not only are you a yoga instructor but you’re dancer as well! Could you give us a little more insight into your dance background? Does this influence your practice?

Marni: I have always loved to dance. When I am dancing, I feel free, and it gives me the opportunity to express feelings and emotions that are beyond words.

In 1996, I took a yoga class with a teacher who also taught bellydancing. I began to study both yoga and bellydance with her. I loved the way that both modalities brought me into a deeper relationship with myself and others. Both yoga and bellydance invite us into the heart space; where we begin by acknowledging whatever is true and real inside. They require a willingness to be open and vulnerable to our own longing. They both take us deeper into the intimate relationship with the mystery, and all the ways in which we are co-creating our lives with spirit. When I am performing, I place myself in direct relationship with whoever is performing with me, and all of the people in the audience. We are having a collective and co-creative experience together. This also happens in class; we all come together, and as each one of connects to our own interior space, our postures become beautiful expressions of the heart. This is why we leave class feeling better than we did when we came in. We all had an experience of being with ourselves, connecting to our essence, and then having it reflected back to us. This type of reflection has incredibly potent healing powers.

I have also experienced great healing from all the ways that we move the body in bellydance. The moves are generally centered around the hips and belly, and they awaken vitality in those areas. Any time we move the body in a conscious way, we are giving it an opportunity to release and heal old wounds and tension. So many women are holding onto old wounds centered around their sexuality, sensuality, and self-esteem in these areas, and bellydance can be a way to open those places and heal. I have seen hundreds of women completely transform their relationship to themselves through bellydance.

KG: Your bio indicates that you have struggled with depression and eating disorders in the past, and that yoga has helped you navigate through those challenges. Was there an ‘a-ha’ moment with yoga when the answers seemed clear, or was it an ongoing process?

Marni: It has been an ongoing process with “a-ha” moments along the way. I feel blessed in a certain way because I had a “dark night of the soul” at a very young age. At 15, I was diagnosed with severe depression. I was contemplating life and death, and asking all kinds of profound questions that most people don’t usually think about until they are much older. I had really low-self esteem, and even though I was pretty thin, I always saw myself as being overweight. I was starving myself, and counting calories, and sometimes I would throw-up whatever I ate. I survived these years by saying to myself, “if I still feel this bad tomorrow, I will kill myself then.” I look back on this time, and I now realize that it was actually a powerful initiation into who I am today.

One of my teachers, Douglas Brooks, always says that, “Life is an invitation and never an obligation.” When I first heard him say this, I knew exactly what he meant. When I was depressed, everything in my life felt like an obligation, just waking up in the morning felt like such a heavy burden. I felt as if nothing was going to change and there was no good option except to end it. Facing my own death like this for so many years actually taught me that I did have a choice. When we are stuck in depression and despair, we feel worse because we are unable to see the options. But, if you always know that in any moment, you actually could end it if you wanted to, you start to realize that by not ending, you are choosing to live it. This was the radical shift/a-ha moment that occurred inside of me. I realized that I did have a choice, and that I was choosing to live my life. I realized that my life is such a gift, and that it invites me every day to wake up and learn to love it all over again. I realized that all of those years of saying no to my life was coming from a place of misunderstanding. I didn’t yet understand that I could choose to say yes instead. So, now, I choose to say yes, and things are so much more fun this way.

KG: As a KiraGrace Warrior, you have chosen to include service and yoga as part of your life- how does the practice of service manifest itself in your life?

Marni: When my twins were 4 months old, about a year and half ago, I moved from Encinitas, CA to Reston, Va. I’ve moved around a lot on my adult life, so I’m used to starting over. However, this time was quite different because I am now a mom of young twins, and I’ve discovered how isolating our lives can be as mothers in this modern world. So, when I moved to Reston, I found the local yoga studio to call home (Beloved Yoga), and I have devoted myself to building a community of women who support each other like sisters. We gather once or twice a month, practice yoga together, share our stories and do everything we can to uplift each other in our lives. I know that more women are coming together in this way all over the planet, and it is all in service of the highest good. When women support each other, we have more energy to nourish and nurture our children and communites, who then become beacons of light for future generations. We all need friends who can inspire us and remind us of our own strength and beauty.

KG: You are known for including an element of storytelling and playfulness to your classes- what are the benefits of this dynamic approach to the teachings of yoga?

Marni: I want people to understand that yoga belongs to them. Yoga works when we bring it to our lives. It must leave with each person as they walk out of the yoga room and onto the street. They must take it home and into their relationships. This will happen if I can make the teachings real for the students. I share myself with my students. I bring stories from my life and from all of the sacred traditions, that illuminate the teachings inside of experience. When we hear good stories, we begin to see our own stories in a new light. We relate to our lives in a more expansive way, and we begin to see the common symbolic messages. This opens the lines of communication between the mind, the body, and the spirit, and it makes the yoga practice really personal.

The main reason that I’ve been able to stick with my practice for almost 20 years, is because I’ve made it completely personal, and I have fun. My yoga practice always meets me exactly where I am. If I’m feeling totally crappy, I can go to my mat or teach a class, I can let the crappy be there, and still do good yoga. Feeling crappy is so much more fun when you take yourself lightly. So, I can feel like total crap and still tell good stories, teach great classes and laugh at myself. So, this is how I share myself, and I’ve noticed that students really appreciate this about me. I bring my full self to whatever I’m doing, and that gives everyone else permission to be themselves exactly as they are in that moment; angry, fearful, sad, joyful, happy, whatever…We begin there, and we let the yoga work its magic, and sometimes we laugh, or we go deep and real, and other times we just move and breathe and love the fact that we are alive and together.

KG: What is the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?

Marni: Never give up.

KG: What yoga pose did you choose to feature for this blog and why?

Marni: I chose to share Kapinjalasana, which is named after a mythical bird that lives on dewdrops. This became one of my favorite poses during my pregnancy, because it was one of few strong and expansive postures that I could actually do when my belly got huge with my twins. It gave me a feeling of gracefullness and freedom, that felt wonderful during that time. Its a sweet combination of arm balance and backbend, and it lets the heart be fully expressive and open.

The Sky Invites Us

questions and answers

 

 

I love the way the sky poses such questions like: why am I here? who am I anyway? how big is the universe? how small are we? how did this all begin and how will it end?

Its asks us to ask,

and when we do,

we receive the secrets of the infinite,

and all of the powers of the mystery.

Adhikara: what it means to be a skillful student of yoga.

wild thing heart explosion

 

The Sanskrit word for studentship is adhikara, and the literal translation is “how one cultivates his or her inherent gifts”.

I love this word, because adhikara puts the ball in your court.  It speaks to the way that each one of us is ulitmately responsible for our own growth and awakening.  Our teachers can support us by sharing the methods and practices, but then it is up to us to do the practice, sit with ourselves,  contemplate what we learned, and understand how it is relevant to our own experience.  As students, we must digest what we have learned.  If a teacher says something that we dont understand, then we sit with it until we do.

One of my teachers studied with the great master, BKS Iyengar, years ago,when he was teaching to very small groups of students.  My teacher is a brilliant and devoted student, and he once said that he wouldn’t ask his teacher any questions about yoga unless he exhausted every other avenue of discovery first.  This is a perfect example of his adhikara, and how he was taking responsibility for his own learning and growth.

As a teacher, I offer myself fully, generously, and humbly to the people who show up as my students.  At the same time, I honor them as mature and responsible human beings.  I look for their inner potential, and I see all the ways in which their inherent gifts can be further cultivated.

So, what does it mean to be a good student?

Here are some of the qualities that are necessary for learning and growth.   Think about your own studentship, and how you are culitvating yourself.  You will probably see that you naturally resonate more with certain qualities, and not so much with the other ones.  Honor your natural gifts, and at the same be willing to sit with yourself and all the places where you are ready to grow.

5 qualities of a good student:

Be Expansive like Space– Connect to the all the ways in which you are being supported by a bigger energy.  Know that the teacher is inside of you.

Be Steadfast like the Earth– Commit yourself to your practice, and do it on a regular basis. Everyday, wake up and practice loving your life all over again.  Get to your mat even on days when you dont feel like it (especially those days).

Be Fluid and Flexible like Water– Be open to all the ways that life is constantly shifting and changing, and so are you.  Enjoy the way that your body is different everyday, and let your practice can change with that.  Be open to learning new ways of approaching your yoga practice.

Be Devoted like Fire-Connect to all the ways that yoga nourishes you, and let that fuel your devotion and discipline.  Know what inspires you, and seek those things out on a regular basis. Fuel your own fire, and when it gets low, surround yourself with people who can help you re-spark.

Be Creative Like Air-Use your imaginitive powers to connect more deeply to the teachings.  Keep a journal and listen to the stories of yoga and relate them to your lown life experience. Be curious and inquisitive. Sing, dance, draw, be in nature, talk to your friends about your inner experience, love yourself and all the ways in which you are wild.