Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?

 Space is something that I find truly marvelous in the most literal sense of the word. Like these tributes to Opportunity that I can’t even read without tearing up. It’s a gosh darn robot, and I can’t handle it. 
Last words, in any sense, have that effect, don’t they? But I gravitate a little more to the less grand, less sweeping kinds of last words. No bedside declarations or call outs to a higher power for me. My list of famous last words is dedicated to the incidental, inconsequential, sometimes intentional.

“Because the soup is getting cold” Leonardo da Vinci
One of the best books I’ve read of late is Walter Isaacson’s biography of the *maestro,* Leonardo da Vinci. It uses his notebooks as a kind of journey map through his life and his work, and ends with his final note about setting down his pen, as “…the soup is getting cold.” It’s a seemingly ignominious note to include in such illustrious company. But to me, it gets to the heart of humanity and the things we all have in common. No one likes cold soup, right?

“My battery is low, and it’s getting dark” Opportunity Rover
Oh, Oppy.  The last transmission from the little rover that could breaks my heart. And if I’m being honest, I don’t know why exactly. It’s not an object with emotion other than that with which my personification imbues it. Maybe it’s my interest in space, and a bit of nostalgia and sentimentality, that combined make me very sad about this.

“This is funny” Doc Holliday 
So many old west characters died with their boots on, except this one. Despite living the gunslinger life, and doing his best to die in any other way than the agonizing suffocation of TB, Doc died in a bed. Memorialized as the character with the most classic lines in “Tombstone” might be some consolation?
[to grow as more emerge]

Holistic Nutrition Certification

I recently wrapped up a random class that I heard about via my 200 hour yoga certification: Functional Holistic Nutrition at Saint Paul College. Here’s the course description: 

The focus of this class is to develop a solid awareness of nutrition; be able to utilize that awareness for the individual student, and to make suggestions to somatic practitioner clientele in a legal and ethical fashion as outlined by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) associate membership. 

No, that’s not what sold me on the class. 

What sold me on it was the fact that the class is co-listed between Health and Culinary Arts. Meaning that, in addition to just studying nutrition and learning about how to relate to clients in a wellness coaching atmosphere, we got to cook as well.  And it was seriously delicious!

Much of the class was focused around learning about different regimens and ideas around nutrition, and some *pop* kinds of things by Mark Hyman, the paleo craze, etc. But in the lab (aka cooking) days, it was all about how to prepare foods in ways that reduce calories and additives without losing flavor. Things like using coconut or avocado oil in place of vegetable oil; tips on creating salad dressings without relying on fatty bases or store-bought options. 

For me, as someone who struggles with weight and knowing that I should, say, reach for carrots instead of Oreos for a snack, this class felt re-affirming and helped strengthen my own resolve to do better. Coupled with my wellness coaching training, I can more clearly see how my habits and patterns have 1) created the cravings for sugars, carbs, etc, and 2) how I can start healthfully moving away from those things. Realizing that I had lost 8 lbs in a few months simply by making a few mindful changes in my diet proves to me that the power of food lies in more than just cutting calories and choosing labels that say ‘organic.’

I’m incredibly excited to have the class under my belt, and to be able to share the information as well in a formal health assessment. While I don’t have my exact range of services laid out quite yet, as well as a fee structure, it’s coming. You’ll be the first to know =D

Proprioception & Your Yoga Practice

I’m a bit of a skeptical yogi. Whenever I hear teachers say anything about *wringing toxins* I curl up inside, and I definitely don’t use any of that in my own teaching. But I love finding things that DO support the things I’ve found to be true in my own practice. And by practice, I’m including yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and proprioception.

Proprioception? 
Also called kinesthetic awareness,  it’s “…the brain’s ability to sense the relative positions and movements of the different body parts. Because of proprioception, you know exactly where your hand is in space as you move it around, even though your eyes are closed.” Close your eyes and touch the tip of your nose. That’s proprioception in action: knowing where your nose is, where your finger is, and bringing them together.
To do this, the brain creates body maps that represent our various body parts with correlations to different parts of the brain, communicating through mechanoreceptors where everything is and what it needs to do next. Even as I type these words, my brain is creating infinite body maps to determine the keystrokes, how I’m moving my feet under the desk, blinking, everything. 

Just like navigating to a new location, having a good map makes the trip easy. Having a bad map can make it less easy. The same logic applies to our body maps. And confused maps cause pain.  You’ve probably heard of phantom limb pain, where an amputee can still feel sensation in their missing limb. 

How to Improve Your Body Maps with Mindfulness
Tara Brach wrote that “…Buddha called physical sensations the first foundation of mindfulness because they are intrinsic to feelings and thoughts and are the base of the very process of consciousness.”  After we’re born, our brain automatically labels some areas, like the psoas muscle, as unconscious to help conserve energy. Like breathing and our heartbeat. We don’t have to conciously think about every breath we take or every beat of our heart like we have to think about scratching our neck. 
But yoga and mindfulness work to reawaken those energy-saving muscles and systems, to bring our attention to our own bodies and how they’re functioning. Yoga means “to yoke”; it truly works to connect all the dots within our physical awareness in addition to our emotional awareness and beyond. 

Proprioception and body awareness go hand in hand, and are nearly identical depending on who’s defining them. As we move through asana practice, we develop a deeper sense of how we’re feeling. I’ve noticed students automatically keep their finger tips engaged, their abilities growing to make micro adjustments through the hips, and more.  And what we do call this ability to check in with ourselves, to find those areas that need to relax and allow us to move deeper? Mindfulness, babycakes. 

Developing a consistent practice is the perfect way to enhance proprioception in your body. Finding ways to move, everyday, can and will have major effects on your mental and physical health. No wringing out of toxins needed 😉