It’s autumn — what are you harvesting in your life?

Image source: Chascar (Flickr)

With thanksgiving just around the corner and the leaves changing colors all around, it’s hard to forget that autumn is traditionally harvest time. In my neighbourhood apples are being plucked fresh from the trees, the last few blackberries are being hunted and picked, and squash are starting to appear once more. When I see all this bounty being reaped from the land, I can’t help but examine what kind of bounty I’m reaping in other areas of my life as well. What am I harvesting in my personal and professional lives? Success? Kindness? Love? Or Anger? Hurt? Disappointment?

It brings to mind that classic saying: you reap what you sow.

Come harvest time, farmers don’t wander out in the fields wondering what they will find. Will it be pumpkins or corn this year, I wonder? No, they know what type of bounty they’ll be bringing in, because they know what they planted. It seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? So naturally, it makes sense to look at the rest of our lives in the same manner. What you are harvesting in your life is directly related to what you are sowing. If you’re surprised by your harvest, by what you are bringing into your life this fall, then it could be time to examine what you’re putting out there.

Are you sowing kindness? gratitude? compassion and love? If you want to reap success and happiness in your life, then plant the seeds for it. If you are surprised by your harvest, then maybe it’s time to take a closer look at what you planted.

So this fall, at the very least, plant a smile. Whether it’s on you, or someone else, you’ll harvest the benefits immediately, and sometimes, that’s just the difference that can change your day around.

How to take your yoga camping.

  

This past weekend I went camping with a group of friends for four days in the mountains. And when I say mountains, I don’t mean some pretty numbered campsite that you drive your car to and that has outhouses and shower facilities around the corner; I’m talking drive a few hours through the mountains in a 4×4 vehicle to find a clearing by the ocean to park a tent or build a shelter out of nearby trees, if you wish (seriously, one friend did this). That kind of camping.

Knowing that I would be without the comforts of home but would have time aplenty (yeah, I just said aplenty), I was determined to bring my yoga camping with me, showers or no showers. So I did. And guess what? It’s surprisingly easy. Here’s how to make it work:

Step 1: Bring a yoga mat. Your cheapest, oldest, worn-out yoga mat. You know the one the dog tried to chew up? Yeah, bring that one. ‘Cause it’s going to get dirty while you are doing yoga outside, and so are you.

Step 2: Bring layers of wicking and quick-drying yoga clothes. You want to be as comfortable as possible but still be able to move. Again, these will probably get dirty, so be prepared. Layers will keep you both warm and cool, and the quick-drying abilities will ensure that if you get rained on or want to give them a rinse that you will still be able to wear them for tomorrow’s yoga. Because if you’re going to take your yoga camping you might as well make the most of it, right?

Step 3: Bring music. This can be a stereo, an ipod, or even the radio in your car if it comes right down to it. Yoga to the sounds of nature is great, but if you aren’t lucky enough to be camping on a warm sunny day, you might need some extra motivation to get moving, and dancing for 5 minutes to an upbeat song can help get you warm and ready for yoga.

Step 4: Find a flat surface. Or an inclined surface. Or just any surface, really. If you wind up with your mat on a funny angle, just think of it as an extra challenge in stabilization, and change around your position on the mat with every downward dog so that you can reach all angles. If there are no surfaces to place a mat on, then practice your standing poses. I’ll bet your Warrior III feels a bit stronger when you are trying not to fall off a rock.

Step 5: Experiment. This isn’t your typical at-home or in-studio practice, so why not take the opportunity to do something different? Instead of bringing a class with you, just practice what comes to you naturally. See some trees nearby? Practice tree pose. Missing some sunshine? See how many sun salutations it takes to bring the sun out. Was that an eagle that flew by? Eagle pose. Get it? Go with the flow.

And if all else fails, there’s always more to be learned in downward dog – a yogi’s best friend.

The Best Way to Find Inspiration

Inspiration is a powerful thing. It can spur you to action in many ways, and can bring joy to your life; which is why I find myself looking for inspiration some days when I’m feeling lost and bogged down by everyday life. It can really be helpful to go to the online world and get inspired – there are so many great and inspiring blogs and websites out there these days. But what I’ve discovered over the past few years is that my best source of inspiration is my own life. Sounds a bit contradictory, doesn’t it? When things in my life are weighing down on me, I search a little deeper to find the inspiration in my life. But that’s exactly why it is so powerful. If I turn to others for inspiration, I may certainly get inspired, but I may also get a lot of other unwanted stuff along with my inspiration – more things that I want to buy, jealousy over what others have, and frustration about the things I can’t change in my life. On the other hand, by turning inward and recognizing that I can find inspiration in my own life, I might get some unexpected benefits – gratitude and perspective, for example. So while I do think that finding inspiration outside yourself can be valuable and is something I wouldn’t give up, the best way to find inspiration (whether that is for yoga classes, recipes, career choices, or anything) is to start by looking to your own life. What can you see there that inspires you? What can you imagine others being inspired by in your life? What are some changes that you’ve made in your life that you are proud of?

Some of my inspiring things:

I love to bake. I can hardly believe that something so pretty and yummy could be made by my two hands.

Cooking and eating healthy yummy food. It wasn’t that long ago that the only thing I could make for myself (and therefore often the only thing I ate) was pasta from a box. Seriously. My eating habits are better and I also appreciate food so much more these days. It actually tastes better too!

If I can do yoga, then I can do anything. Enough said.

The beauty of nature: not everyone is as lucky as I am to live in such an amazing, gorgeous place. But there is always beauty to be found somewhere, no matter where you are. Even when I’m in cities I collect a list of beautiful spots in my mind that I know I can return to; a tree lined street here, a park there, etc.