Notice the Thought, But Don’t Think It.

  
Notice the thought, but don’t think it. 

“What the heck?” my daughter scoffed, incredulous as she read that line over my shoulder, “That doesn’t even make any sense, that’s impossible.” I was as dismissive of it as she was initially, but alas, the sentiment has been rattling around in my head for the last few weeks and I’m awfully close to obsessing on it. 

How do you respond to it? Are you wondering how it could be possible to do such a thing? Does it sound like nonsense or perhaps it has a ring to it, a distillation of your need to get control over your own thoughts? 

I think it’s fair to say that when considering meditation many believe that it is a way to master our minds, to elicit some control over our thoughts. I also think that many immediately realize the futility of that pursuit and we give up on the idea altogether. 

So let's explore the veracity of the claim that we have any control at all over our thoughts. As an experiment, an inventory, grab a pen and paper and set a timer for five minutes then write down every thought you have. 

My bet? You wouldn’t even make it to three minutes. Our brains are whirring non-stop, unconsciously filling with thoughts in seemingly unconnected ways. That snub you suffered from that mean Jennifer on the playground in fifth grade to that new haircut you’ve been considering to that adorable pooch from the Westminster Dog Show and on. Indeed, controlling our thoughts is an impossible task. So if we don’t have a way to control them how can we change the way our minds are working if they’re not working for us? 

We can change how we feel about the thought, how we respond to the thought. 

That’s what I think “Notice the thought, don’t think it” really means, to consider how the thought makes you feel, why do you feel the way you feel about the thought and instead of being at the mercy of the emotions the thought might stir in you, rather you start making conscious, deliberate choices to feel those feelings or not. 

So, without thinking about them, what are your thoughts?
 
Written by Hot Feet yoga instructor Stacy

Christmas Presence

I grew up in a secular home and my childhood Christmases always left me wanting, no matter the volume or quality gifts my family was able to provide us children, the day following Christmas was always accompanied by profound emptiness; a soulful vacancy that all the presents in the world could not fill. My home was also a broken one and Christmas came complete with the magical gift of highlighting the dysfunction within my family something awful. Suffice to say that the Ghost of my Christmas Pasts stalks me to this day and, even though I am entirely conscious and keenly aware of this spectars origins and its unwelcome nature, I find that I am still trying to wrestle my stolen joy from its decades-long talons. 

 

Enter yoga. During a particularly hot practice earlier this week, while in Corpse Pose meditating on burnt out light bulb above me, I had an epiphany. I realized that I could practice Christmas instead of experience Christmas. I realized that I could take my attitude toward my yoga practice into my holiday experience and, as I do in yoga, choose to view my successes or failures as part of the Christmas-practice learning process. Yoga is not a destination, that is, you never really “ arrive” in yoga. The practice reveals that you are capable of poses you thought were outside of your ability, your balance improves, your ability to focus increases and you become stronger. Christmas could be the same. And, while Christmas Day itself might be “A Thing” on the calendar, it does not have to be the destination. That is, mindfully practicing Christmas every day of this season could bring about the same benefits I find on my yoga mat and who couldn’t use more balance, strength and focus? Can someone actually possess too much of these attributes? If so, I have yet to make their acquaintance. 

 

So I start today. If you see me at the studio and I seem a little awkward, it’s because I’ve embarked on a new practice. Perhaps you would like to practice with me? Perhaps you’ve been practicing for awhile and you can show me how its done. No matter where you are in your journey, you are welcome to practice with me anytime, Christmas or otherwise.

Stacy Manning
Hot Feet Fitness Instructor


The Benefits of Gratitude

 

 

We are in full swing of the holiday season, which means a lot of extra get togethers, parties, and time with friends and family. This can be really fun and also add a touch of stress. Adding in a bit of gratitude to the mix can really boost our moods, relationships, and health. 

 

There have been many studies done about gratitude. One study was conducted by two psychologists from the University of California, Davis and the University of Miami. They had a group of people that they divided into three groups. They were all asked to write a couple of sentences each week for ten weeks. One group wrote about things they were grateful for. The second group wrote about things that irritated them. The third group wrote about events in their lives that affected them, neither positive or negative.

 

After the ten weeks, the gratitude group were more optimistic, exercised more, and felt better about their lives. 

 

What are the benefits of gratitude?

 

·      Gratitude improves mental health and general well being

·      Gratitude strengthens relationships

·      Gratitude frees us from toxin emotions

·      Grateful people have higher self-esteem and feelings of self-worth

·      Grateful people are more resilient under stress

 

How can we add more gratitude in our daily lives?

 

·       Tell someone you are grateful for them

·       Write a quick note to someone and send in the mail or leave on the bathroom mirror or their desk at work

·       Write something you are grateful for on a piece of paper or journal just for yourself

·       Send a nice text to someone new each day during the holiday season

·       Invite someone over for coffee or dinner as a thank you for their friendship

 

 

Want to read more inspiring articles about gratitude? Here are the articles that inspired me:

 

7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude

How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain

Why Gratitude Is Good

Author: Alli Shircliff

Save the Turkey! Healthier Vegan Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

 

We all love a plate full of the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving: bright red cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, squash, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. This year try incorporating a couple of vegan dishes that are sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar. They are so tasty that you won’t even tell the difference!

 

Here are two ideas:

 

Maple Syrup-Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

 

Ingredients:

 

1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries

1 small orange, zested and juiced

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup water

1 pinch sea salt

1 cinnamon stick

 

 

Directions:

 

1.    Combine cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup, water, salt, and cinnamon stick in a pot; heat over medium-high heat until simmering.

2.    Reduce heat to a simmer, place a lid on the pot, and cook, gently stirring every 5 minutes, until sauce is thickened and cranberries have burst, about 20 minutes.

3.    Remove cinnamon stick before serving.

 

 

Butternut Squash with Walnuts

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

Ingredients:

 

1 butternut squash- peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch slices

 cup water

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup dark rum (optional)

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch salt

¼ cup walnuts

 

Directions:

 

1.    Combine butternut squash, water, maple syrup, rum, cinnamon, and salt in a skillet; bring liquid to a boil.

2.    Reduce heat to low, place a lid on the skillet, and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

3.    Transfer butternut squash to a serving dish, keeping the liquid in the skillet.

4.    Continue simmering liquid in skillet until a thickened sauce forms, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour sauce over butternut squash.

5.    Garnish butternut squash with walnuts right before serving.

Author: Alli Shircliff

Körper Stretch Teacher Training First Take

I recently attended the Körper Stretch teacher training and give it five out of five stars. As a yoga instructor, I haven’t been to a teacher training since my yoga teacher training. The Körper Stretch teacher training was just what I needed and wanted.

 

The instructors, Shea and Spring, were very welcoming and professional. They handed out the curriculum booklet when we arrived, gave us a schedule for each day of the training, and made the environment warm and comfortable. We went through the background of what Körper (meaning ‘body’ in German) Stretch is all about: a class focused on full body stretching for all fitness levels, body types, and ages. We learned that it isn’t a yoga class, but a class focused on stretching. 

 

We learned the benefits of stretching: increased flexibility and range of motion, injury prevention, improved posture, improved sports performance, and stress relief.

 

We were then led through a master class taught by Shea, which was a great way to think and feel the class a little differently after having learned the background of Körper Stretch. Then we spent some time going through potential stretches to use in class and wrote our own 5-minute sequence. Each of the participants then taught a 5-minute class segment and we got feedback afterwards.

 

I left feeling stretched (physically and mentally), got a good night’s sleep, and returned the next day. On the second day, Spring led us through a master class. This was a nice way to start the day and to see a different version of the same type of class. We learned that every teacher will teach the class differently, while at the same time providing an environment of stretching. 

 

Then the participants each led a 25-minute class. This was the real test of how we understood the material and concept of Körper Stretch. Then we each got feedback and wrapped up the training.

 

I would recommend this training to anyone who wants to learn more about stretching and anyone who wants to take their exercise or practice to the next level by teaching. The Körper Stretch Teacher Training is an inspiring way to learn, to grow, to stretch, and to be part of the community!

Alli Shircliff
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Stretch Teacher

 

 

Kind Words

"I am not a social media type and do not want to join Yelp. However, I do want to give Kudos to Hot Feet Fitness in Burien, WA. I am in town for a 6 week training seminar for work and Hot Feet Fitness has been a life saver. I attended class 10:30 yoga flow class Sunday Sept, 1, 2019. The instructor music and quality of class went well above and beyond my expectations. However, what was even more impressive was how squeaky clean the studio is. I would definitely recommend this studio to anyone looking for a quality yoga studio with experienced and high quality instructors."

 
All the best,
 
Jeanette Muzio
Alaska Airlines 

Opportunity abounds!

For many years in my BC (before children) era I toiled in the restaurant industry and, because I enjoy suffering, my jam was waiting tables in fine-dining houses. It’s a very self-explanatory position. As a waiter, I waited. I waited for the kitchen to prepare the food, I waited for the bartenders to pour liquor and I waited for the diners to dine. 

 

If you were savvy enough to avoid restaurant work you might not know the three universal rules that govern all dining establishments with regard to the waitstaff. Because these rules have proven to have great value out here in the Real World, I thought I would share them with you. They are as follows: 

 

Wash your hands. 

 

You’ve got time to lean? You’ve got time to clean. 

 

Never leave your section empty handed. 

 

The first two are pretty straightforward. Nobody needs a lecture on the merits of keeping sickness at bay with clean hands, nor has anyone I know ever completed their to-do list. In other words? Get to work.

 

However, the third rule is a bit more than it seems. While you can interpret “never leave your section empty handed” to mean the obvious and entirely useful, “Never head up or down the stairs without a laundry basket”, it also has a deeper meaning to me. It pushes me to consider what my “section” is in this world and for how much of it I am responsible. When considered in that light, NLYSEH can be interpreted as, “Never walk by garbage on the ground in public, pick it up”. Or perhaps, “Never walk by a grandma-type loading her groceries into her trunk without offering to help”. Further, and more challenging for me, it can mean “Never be afraid to apologize to a stranger for causing them inconvenience, even if they are the one being difficult”.

 

Our community is our section and we shant wait for the opportunity to be of service in little ways; we all have the capability, the responsibility, to clean things up a bit. Never leave your section empty handed, even if its a simple handshake, a kind word, a generous smile or simply filling a bag of trash on your way to the studio. 

 

Opportunity abounds. Don’t be a waiter. 

Stacy Manning
Hot Feet Fitness Teacher
 
 

Why You Should Consider Yoga During Pregnancy

 

 

As yoga’s popularity increases, its benefits are becoming more and more well known. Many people around the world will attest to the stress relief, core strengthening and flexibility that yoga provides. One group that can especially benefit from yoga is expecting mothers. 

 

Prenatal yoga will ease the burden of childbearing by supporting key muscles, making it easier to sleep and preparing pregnant women for childbirth. In addition to the physical benefits, yoga will increase confidence leading up to labor and calm the minds of expecting mothers. Still wondering if prenatal yoga is the right choice? Read about some of the proven benefits below. 

 

Strengthens Key Muscle Groups

Regular prenatal yoga will strengthen and tone important muscles like the abdominals and pelvic floor. The pelvic floor supports the baby as well as the digestive organs during pregnancy. Carrying a child places an extremely large burden on this important muscle group so strengthening it through yoga is a great idea. 

 

Promotes Good Posture

Carrying a child can place a great strain on the lower back, which changes the mothers’ center of gravity and can lead to bad posture before and after childbirth. There are many yoga poses designed to help alleviate pain and tension in the lower back, which improves posture and makes daily life easier. 

 

When the center of gravity changes, the feet may also be affected with problems like over pronation. This can lead to heel pain, feet and leg cramps that make standing and walking extremely unpleasant. Yoga allows the feet and legs to be elevated and stretched to reduce soreness.

 

Preparing for Childbirth

By doing yoga, you can become more in tune with your body which may increase confidence leading up to and during childbirth. The deep breathing techniques often practiced in yoga are useful during labor to make the body relax. Studies have shown that the confidence boosts associated with yoga lead to smoother deliveries. 

 

Aside from the physical benefits of prenatal yoga, joining a yoga class can provide a support system during pregnancy. Exercising and socializing with other women will help ease tension and anxiety about childbirth. 

 

Quality Sleep

Getting a good night of sleep can be challenging during pregnancy and will only get harder after childbirth. Cramps, heartburn, and stress are all common reasons why falling and staying asleep can be such a pain. Luckily, bedtime yoga has important benefits that will make sleeping easier than ever.

 

Practicing yoga before bed will help establish a bedtime routine which is a great way to wind down at night and tell your body it is time to rest. Additionally, yoga provides relief from some of the pregnancy related aches and pains that may keep women awake. Yoga encourages steady breathing which helps calm the mind and prevent anxiety and stress from getting in the way of rest. 

 

Make sure to consult a physician before practicing yoga if you are expecting and avoid hot yoga classes as well as poses that place a burden on the abdominals. Soon, you will be experiencing the wonderful benefits yoga can provide.

Stephanie James
Freelance Content Writer 

Make Your Habits Stick!

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” the saying goes. Often times, this is used to justify the belief that some people can be too old to change, that once a person has made a particular action or thought process a habit, they are doomed to repeat this for life. 

And while it is human nature to stick to our habits, we don’t necessarily have to be the victim of unhealthy ones we build.

When it comes to our habits and the brain, our biology can tell us a lot about why we tend to autonomously perform an action. Every time we think in a certain way, perform a task, or feel a particular emotion, we continue to strengthen the neural pathways in our brain in carving these processes as habits. This is called Neuroplasticity.

When we think about something differently, learn a new task, or choose a different emotion, our brain creates a new pathway. Using this pathway enough eventually replaces the old one. It just takes time to carve that new mental pathway in order to do so.

Of course, this is an ultra-condensed and simplified version of what actually goes on in the mind when we move through our habits. In real-time, we move through our habitual actions in the blink of an eye, often times not realizing what we’ve done until far after it’s finished. When it comes to ending old habits and creating new ones: 

-Awareness is key: Become aware of events leading to a particular negative thought or
emotion. Understand its root.

-Avoid Avoiding: Allow the experience to penetrate itself. Fully.

-Experience, Without Acting: It is possible to experience pain/pleasure without being driven to act upon it

-Recognize that the moment is temporary and that this too, shall pass

When it comes to teaching an old dog new tricks, it turns out you can! You are never too old to change, but it does get harder to change the older you get. Anyone who is willing to do the work is able to change if they want to.

Diane Ratana
Hot Feet Fitness Barre, Meditation, and Yoga Instructor

Sing your heart out: Do we sing because we are happy or are we happy because we sing?

Yoga aims to connect us with ourselves, with each other, with the universe. Yoga means union. Singing or chanting is a means of coming together. It is done at birthdays, celebrations, and to share common emotions. At times it can be used in a religious context, but beyond that it brings people together with a common intention. Whether that intention is to celebrate God or celebrate life, health, overcoming obstacles, or love, singing is a means of connecting to each other and to ourselves. 

Something I have noticed in my 12 years of teaching yoga is that singing is a powerful tool. It can bring up feelings of vulnerability disguised as anger or resistance. But let me reassure you, that singing in the shower or on your yoga mat does not need to be Grammy worthy to have a powerful impact. The voice is as unique as each individual, no one sound is exactly the same. It is freeing to face fears and be completely comfortable with who you are, what you look like, what you sound like. So embrace your uniqueness, your beauty and the healing power of your sound.


Kristen O'Connor
Hot Feet Fitness Yoga & Meditation Instructor