Is the Expat life for you?

Desiree and Andrew smiling while having a meal in a restaurant

Desiree and Andrew smiling while having a meal in a restaurantBeware the ideas you emphatically reject, saying you’d never do—- for they will likely someday come back to you as a big learning or growth opportunity.

When I began dating (my now-husband) Andrew, I was aware of his passion for travel. In fact, it was one of the reasons we quickly and easily came together. I had a traveling yoga career and he had recently sold his adventure travel business, so joining in with me was a no-brainer.

For 14 years, we traveled the world together, teaching yoga and loving life. We made friends in many countries and enjoyed all of the colorful and delicious differences in cultures.

When often asked “where would we choose to live if given the opportunity to live anywhere?,” we would always lean in the direction of our favorite destinations: the developing world. No question about it, because life in these countries is so different from what we have known growing up in the US. We enjoyed the vibrant colors, the delicious food and exotic smells, the interesting people and the simpler way of life in every country we visited. We were very lucky with to have had so much experience and to feel comfortable visiting just about anywhere on the planet. This hypothetical question was always just good fun to answer whenever it came up.

sunset with colorful sky, looking over a cityEven though Andrew and I had the desire to travel in common, there was one big difference between us. I was happy to be able to come home to the US and be near my family, while he was longing to actually live in one of these countries. Since I was the one who had children, he graciously conceded to my choice. I knew however, that this longing remained in his heart and mind.

Then along came the year 2020, and with it the first global pandemic of our lifetimes. Almost overnight, my traveling yoga career came to an utter standstill. After adjusting to teaching online, we decided to take that question more seriously. Where in the world would we choose to live?

It wasn’t so easy to figure out the answer to that question. I longed to live near my children and grandchildren in the San Diego area, even though they did not need or demand it and Andrew was ready for a big change. He had graciously agreed to live near the kids for 4 1/2 years, so it was my turn to compromise.

two people dressed up in parade down Mexico street
A typical parade in the central square.

We decided to take a Covid-safe summer road trip for two months in the western US and spent our time hiking and visiting with dear friends. We dreamed of having a home in a small mountain town and even made a few offers, until mid-August, when one of those Colorado mountain towns burst into flames with forest fires, and we were swiftly evacuated from our rented Air B and B.

Shortly after that experience we decided to give San Miguel de Allende, Mexico a try. Why this town? In 2017, on my first ever visit here, we had fallen in love with, and purchased, a vacation home which we had been visiting a few times a year.

After six months of living in Mexico here are some of the things we have learned:

  1. It’s very easy to make like-minded friends in a small, more walkable city. The total population of the area is 140,000 and 7,000 of us are expats.
  2. The pace of life is much slower than what we are used to in the states and we find that we don’t miss the speed or the vibe. Here we get to enjoy visiting with people we know and are constantly meeting new friends. Our time is spent lingering over delicious meals, hanging out in the central square listening to mariachis, watching break dancers, enjoying a parade, or taking in the delightful squeals of children at play.
  3. There is typically an abundance of world class art, theater and music events here and because it’s a small town, we can easily attend and support whatever is happening.
  4. The old buildings are well preserved and there are very few fast food restaurants and no billboards to be seen anywhere in town.
  5. The cobblestone streets naturally slow down the traffic and drivers look out for pedestrians all day long. There are no stop signs or traffic lights, people watch out for each other. We are told that the rule is: “just don’t hit anyone”.
  6. There is no visible homelessness in this town because in this culture people take care of their family members and most homes are multi-generational.
  7. We choose not to own a car because we don’t need one. We buy groceries often and have many choices from small local shops for fresh organically grown food. There is a Costco, about 45 minutes drive away and there are many local shoppers willing to make that trip for us.
  8. The interactions we have had with local doctors and dentists so far have been first rate in every way, and very affordable.
  9. We have felt safe from Covid here, as this town takes the disease very seriously. The protocols here are incredibly tight and most of the locals tend to follow the rules. We never see or feel even the slightest bit of resistance to a law that requires looking out for the well-being of others.
  10. There is petty crime here, because there is poverty. We don’t hang out at bars late at night and we avoid questionable neighborhoods—- the same as we would do anyway in the states.
  11. There is organized crime here in Mexico but it’s targeted. If one is not involved in selling drugs, there is very little risk of being the victim of a crime. We are careful about taking road trips and follow the US travel advisory guidelines to avoid dangerous areas
seven adults doing chair pose on a ledge overlooking a valley
These are my local students practicing “Chair Pose” on a Sunday hike.

This town now feels more like home to me than any other place else we have visited. From here we can easily fly domestically to Tijuana to visit our grandchildren who live near San Diego.

We have become part of a growing local yoga community and are finding ways to offer our services and our teaching as a gift. There’s no better feeling for me than being able to teach what I love to a community that appreciates it. That’s what I have done for over 30 years and now I get to continue doing in a slightly different form.

adults and children posing at a Mexico orphanage.
Visiting a local orphanage with some Christmas goodies

Someday it might once again be possible for me to resume my traveling and teaching career, or not. Who knows? Until then, I feel very fortunate to have found a way to stay close to my longtime friends and students through Zoom as well as make new connections in person.

Gifts and blessings come in unexpected packages. When we bought our vacation home in San Miguel 4 years ago, we had no idea we would someday end up loving our life here. My wish for all who read this piece is that they find their own way through this time of great change and transition and come out on the other side thriving.

My PBS Pledge Drive Host Experience

Desiree standing among yoga students outdoor in a lush garden area
In 2007, I was invited by a media company to make three DVD’s called “Yoga to the Rescue” in Los Angeles. One of the women working on that set was quite touched by the story of the loss of my son Brandon in 2003.  She eventually went to work for PBS on the east coast and we kept in touch from time to time. In July of 2020, when the world was settling in to the reality of being shut down from Covid, she called and asked if I would be interested in being a Pledge Drive Host for them. 
 
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is broadcasting made, financed and controlled by the public, for the public. It is neither commercial nor state-owned, free from political interference and pressure from commercial forces. PBS provides its member stations with programming in cultural, educational, and scientific areas, in children’s fare, and in news and public affairs but does not itself produce programs; the programs are produced by the member stations, independent producers, and other program producers worldwide.
 
They were interested in having me host the Yoga Pledge Drive program mainly because of my grief journey. I have always shared it openly and widely in the hope that it would help someone else who was dealing with the pain of grieving. The producers thought that it could inspire hope in people especially during this trying time in our history. Over the next six months, I worked with a very talented producer to make a show that would convey the healing and transformational power of yoga. We included interviews with several of my students and created a special DVD for Beginners that would be part of what they would receive in return for a pledge of support.
 
My yoga and meditation practices have helped me deal with the painful loss of my son. It is possible to learn to see death from a different vantage point. I now see it as his soul’s journey, separate from mine, rather than a bitter blow to me as a mother. His soul’s journey is not a personal assault on my well-being, and while we could be called victims neither of us need to remain identified as such. 
 
I realize that I am not the only one who has ever suffered from such a loss as this. The depth of compassion that I can now access for other people who suffer is bigger than it was before. After years of struggling and wishing things were different, I have found peace and acceptance of the most horrific event a parent can imagine. If I can do this, I have hope that others can as well. 
 
The body and mind are inextricably connected and the practice of yoga teaches us that every day. This is the message I want to share with the world: You will encounter pain in your life, and sometimes you will actually be a victim, but you do not have to suffer or remain in that victim state of mind. Our minds are capable of re-framing whatever happens to us and we get to choose whether we want to be bitter or joyful in our lives. Throughout history, there have been those who have risen from the ashes of despair. If they can do it, so can we. We can tell a different story and write a new ending. 
 
I am honored to be a part of this project and grateful for the opportunity to share the message.

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Time to Cultivate a Home Practice?

Feeling stressed? Anxious? Struggling with body pain? These trying times call for “extreme self care” and for all of us to learn more about how to release stress and heal our suffering. Creative solutions could include simple things such as drinking more water, eating simpler home cooked food, quiet time away from screens, playing outside in nature and— a dedicated home yoga practice.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about dedicating some time to take care of yourself:

Need a visual reminder?

Designate a space in your home where you can leave your mat and other props out. If they are easily accessible, chances are better that you will use them. I am lucky to have an entire room, but if this is not possible, at least keep your yoga props in a tidy basket so they are visible and you don’t have to dig them out of a closet every time you want to use them.

Got pain?

Make your practice all about healing your body. Begin with simply giving attention to whatever part of you needs it the most and let your time on the mat evolve from there. I have small tears in my meniscus which sometimes cause pain, and when that happens I know to practice the actions in hip openers that relieve the pain and re-track my knee. When my body was healing from shingles, I had to back off of my physical practice, focusing more on myo-fascial release massage with balls and blocks to relieve the nerve pain. Use blocks, balls or blankets to release tight fascia and do simple poses with steady breathing for best results.

No time?

Here’s a secret for you – I do not take the time for a full asana practice every day, I intend to do an hour of some type of physical practice each day, but there just isn’t always enough time for a daily hour of yoga! Sometimes I choose weight training or cardio because all of those are beneficial and keep me in balance. If our aim is self care, then even riding a bike can be yoga, or body-mind connection. If you are tired or low energy, perhaps a simple restorative pose such as legs up the wall or savasana will be the perfect remedy. The ability to self-soothe is one of the greatest gifts of yoga and you are worth it! Take some time for extreme self care.

Need a little more enticement?

Play your favorite music or burn some incense if you like. Do whatever makes you feel nurtured and supported. Lately, I’ve been putting on some inspiring mood music such as Ayub Ogada “Obiero”, and sometimes I go for something like Trevor Hall or Nahko or just practice in the quiet with no music at all – I let my current mood decide.
Having a set routine is nice, and it’s ideal to set aside time for some type of practice every day, but if all we can squeeze in is 10 minutes of legs up the wall or meditation at the beginning or end of our day that is enough —— you are enough.

 

Looking for a little extra guidance or motivation? Check out my newest classes on Yoga Download or TINT. Yoga!

Turn Fear Into Curiosity

By Desiree Rumbaugh


In my thirty years of practice, including owning a yoga studio for fifteen years, and my twenty years of traveling the world teaching yoga, I have had the good fortune of meeting and learning from students from diverse backgrounds. One recurrent pattern of thinking that I have often heard is the idea that our yoga practice should decrease in intensity as we get older. Many people feel that they no longer need to push themselves in their practice and they are more and more content to focus on restorative poses and meditation.

Now that I am nearing the age of 60, I hear and I truly understand these thoughts, yet I also feel strongly that here is another perspective. In my experience, aging gracefully requires more rather than less exercise. The majority of yoga postures can be therapeutic if we know enough about our anatomy to align ourselves well and engage our muscles during practice. When there is weakness in the body, it can be strengthened at any age. When there is stiffness, the fascia that holds the muscular patterns can be released. We are never too old to work with this balance of strength and flexibility.

 

When I first took up yoga in my twenties, I learned to practice from a very strong knowledge base of biomechanical alignment. In my fifties, I have added working with physical therapists and a personal trainer. The goal of my practice is simply to feel better. I do this not by avoiding poses that are painful or challenging, but by diving deeper into the question: “why is this hurting me right now?” In my quest for knowledge and with curiosity about my pain, I find answers that heal and new ways to strengthen and stretch that inspire a change in my practice that is always for the better.

 

What we do on our yoga mats can teach us to be more inquisitive and then apply this reflection to our life off the mat. When we have conflict anywhere in our lives we can get curious and move towards the situation rather than backing away in fear. The end result of our courageous curiosity will be growth and healing.

 

Join me sometime for more on transforming fear into curiosity. Bring your back, knee, foot, hip, shoulder, neck and wrist issues to a workshop. Explore all the possibilities, learn some new strengthening exercises and bring the passion back to your mat. Be willing to blow away the fear. Let’s explore together and see what we can learn.

My Definition of Aging Gracefully

By Desiree Rumbaugh

 

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

As I embark on my 60th year of life, I find that one of my favorite sentiments from the masterful Gandhi are words to live by. As the natural process of aging keeps me on my toes, I find that growing older gracefully is a practice that takes presence and an open, positive mindset.

 

Here are principles I apply in my own life:

 

Redefine your thoughts on exercise. Let go of comparing your present body to your former one. Be open to new possibilities. Be okay with the inevitable changes by learning to live in the present moment. You may stop running in your early thirties and take it up again in your fifties. You may begin weight training or cycling in your sixties and you may fall in love for the first time with Pilates in your seventies. There are endless possibilities in life if we remain open. Having a regular and very intelligent yoga practice that is steady and strong will make all of your physical activities more sustainable. It is never too late to stimulate our muscle growth, which helps to stabilize our joints and yoga keeps those muscles fluid and healthy.

 

Have friends of all ages. In addition to enjoying time with your peers, having friends on either side of the age spectrum adds perspective in both directions. Learn from the experiences of others and share your own wisdom with those who ask. Keep up with our fast-paced ever-changing world and you will never be bored. It’s fine to appreciate the “good old days”, but avoid getting lost in the fear of change by over-reminiscing or romanticizing the past.

 

Keep a beginner’s mind. Learning something brand new is going to take some effort and you will have to be okay with the beginner’s learning curve, but in the end, the growth you experience each step of the way will make it all worthwhile. Most people spend a large portion of their adult years perfecting one particular skill set through their work. While this leads to mastery and is typically the basis for a satisfying career or hobby, it also takes up a lot of our time, preventing us from learning anything new. Keep your eyes open for a brand new opportunity that may present itself at any moment and be ready to shift gears.

 

Continue to create your life. The moment we stop creating our life is when life begins to happen To us instead of Through us. Of course, there will be times when there are changes that are out of our control. We may even become dependent on others as we age or we may lose our ability to set our mind on a new track. If we are still able to direct our own mind then there are possibilities of creatively working with our circumstances to live the best life possible.

The Ten Day Silent Vipassana Meditation Course — My Experience December 2015

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I first heard of this course in the late 90’s, but wasn’t inspired to do it until about 15 years later when I had the experience of meeting 5 different people within the time span of one month who raved about it. That seemed like a sure sign, it was my time to go.

Taking ten (actually 12 with the arrival and departure dates) days off from work, family and daily life is not easy for householders. For many there is no way they could even consider such a thing at this time in their life.

Should you do it? I don’t know.

It depends a lot on your level of desire. It is a very rigorous commitment, definitely not for wimps. Upon arriving at one of the 164 worldwide Vipassana centers, you are first asked to turn in your valuables, cell phone and other electronics. They are stored in a safe until the day of departure. If that idea seems daunting or impossible to you, you may not be ready. I was relieved to have a break from technology for almost two weeks.

Are you ready to spend 10 days in complete silence and surrender to the rigorous schedule of only 2 simple vegetarian meals per day and up to 10 hours per day of sitting meditation? They discourage you from doing yoga or exercise but they do have a quarter mile loop where I managed to put in 4 miles per day of power walking.

The most difficult part of this for me was all the hours of meditation. I don’t even like meditation that much, but I know I need it. I’ve heard this from countless teachers for over 30 years. I have tried to meditate, but honestly, compared to what I’ve experienced in yoga and other courses such as Landmark Education or hundreds of hours with my therapist, meditation never really made sense to me. Sitting on a pillow with my eyes closed only gave my already very quick mind license to race around like a crazed stallion. My mind is like Netflix on speed, constantly bringing me old and new movies to watch. I would get up after meditating and my head would be spinning. I would have felt much more peaceful had I just read a good book. At least that would have kept my crazy mind focused on only one story at a time! As a true extrovert and verbal processor, I much preferred talking with my therapist or a wise friend whenever I felt the need to get back on track.

My final take away has been gaining another way to deal with my own self-generated misery around my real loss and pain, using meditation as a tool. Many of you know of my story. I am a trauma survivor, and I have been dealing with my pain/suffering for about 16 years now, beginning with a difficult divorce in 2000 compounded by the loss of my 20-year-old son in 2003. Losing a child is such a deep pain that it colors one’s experience, tying any present threat of loss back to the past “big one”, causing us to re-experience the gut-wrenching pain fairly regularly. Getting to the root of this suffering has captured my curiosity. Of course I know that I will always live with the remembrance of this loss. Can I learn though to free myself from this high-level suffering around my attachment to my first-born child? The more I can surrender my ego identification as the mother of “my” son, the less misery I will spin in stories of blame and shame. I want to learn how to do this for myself so that I can also help others who have experienced similar losses. I feel this now in many ways to be my life’s work.

Grueling as these 10 days were, they have forever changed my understanding of yoga as well as meditation. I now see this practice as a way of training the mind into an awareness that can allow and accept all that might be happening in the moment with equanimity. The idea of this skill is not new to me, but the Vipassana technique as presented in a clear, repetitive and sometimes even humorous way is digestible and transformational. In the past, I have been led through guided meditations, the “success” of quieting my mind depending on the skill of the teacher. Now I understand how to guide myself and do my own work to train my mind into a state of peaceful ease. It is very similar to training a dog to heel or sit rather than jump all over people.

The course is available to everyone and anyone who is interested in doing the work. The majority of the attendees were under the age of 40, which was a surprise as I had expected an older, more seasoned crowd. Many of them had no prior experience with meditation or any type of mind/body training. Our course had 30 men and 30 women, some had done the course before.

The course is not easy and it’s not fun. Many times I felt like leaving. At times, it took all of my willpower to stay with the program, so please remember to pack that in your suitcase. Meditation is not an escape or a form of entertainment. It is not always a feel good experience; that is not its aim. Andrew and I came home with a more grounded and spacious feeling. We felt more patient and present and joyful for no apparent reason.

The Southern California center that Andrew and I attended has small private rooms for older students and a dormitory for younger students. There is no cost. Students are encouraged to make donations to the not-for-profit organization www.dhamma.org. None of the teachers or servers are paid as this is a volunteer, pay-it-forward model. The teachings are elegantly and clearly presented, and are based on the ancient teachings of Gautama Buddha.

The instructor/guide, S.N. Goenka, (1924-2013) a brilliant, compassionate and humorous Burmese man, deeply understands the workings of both the conscious and unconscious mind. His talks during the daily video program take a beginner from point A (in my case kicking and screaming) to point B (meditating in a very healing, purifying way) and he knows exactly where in the process a new student will be, every step of the way. I found it very reassuring to know that my mind’s resistance to this process is textbook human behavior.

May all of us…. be happy, be peaceful and be liberated from our suffering.

Two Courageous and Empowering Things You Can Do as a Parent

My daughter got married this weekend, Valentine’s Day and it was perfect. Everyone was healthy and happy and the sun was shining. The day couldn’t have gone any better and all of our family and friends were there to witness the sweet and sacred moment.

MomDaughterYJ

What made this day so successful for me was not the hours of planning and preparation around flowers, dresses and food, but the hours I have spent with her over the years discussing and exploring life.

Our children look up to us from the day they are born. They observe us very closely and they imitate us (for better or for worse). They inherit not just our DNA, but our beliefs and our values too.

As I watched my daughter marry, I reflected back over our years together and suddenly, I felt deeply grateful for two courageous things I did in our relationship; two things I now believe made a big, positive difference for her.

The first thing I did was this: I showed her what it looks like to be true to yourself — even when it was really hard, and looked like failure to others. More specifically, I left my marriage to her father when she was 14, because even though we co-parented well enough, and everything looked fine from the outside, we were never able to achieve any sort of true intimacy in our 18 years of marriage, and I longed for that. We were competitive, and never able to “be on the same team”. I take responsibility for my part in that and I can now see my own immaturity and shortcomings.

This was a very scary time for me, but I knew deep inside I had to do it. Often, I hear people say they stay together “for the kids,” and perhaps that works for them. I wanted to do that, but at the same time, we were both extremely unhappy, caught in a hamster wheel of suffering, not knowing how to change our dynamics after 18 years. Finally, the thing I knew I needed to do to be true to myself was to leave.  This decision was extremely difficult and required a tremendous amount of mental preparation. When I was finally courageous enough to leave, she no longer had to witness her parents living together in an uncomfortable tension-filled relationship. She could see each of us for who we were and develop relationships with us individually. And more importantly, she no longer had to witness our less-than-ideal relationship as her primary example of what marriage is supposed to look like.

The relationship I now have with her father is cordial and friendly enough and we both exhibited stellar behavior at the wedding this weekend as we mutually gave her away to her new husband. Our attempts at communication are still a bit awkward, but at least, we’re no longer pretending that we’re fine or trying to fix what may not be fixable in this lifetime.

I’m now very happily re-married to a man I resonate with on every level (yes, they’re out there and that possibility truly exists)! My new husband and I have had to work though our issues and deal with our fears. I have now seen how that’s a normal part of any committed intimate relationship. Everything I have learned about marriage says that we marry someone who stimulates the places in us that need healing and now I know from experience how true that is. I have learned that when you’re with the right person, you want to do the work because they too are willing to work with you.  It requires self-understanding and courage, but ultimately there’s a sort of underlying joy in it and a huge reward as the intimacy deepens every time you work through a painful issue.

The second courageous thing I did for my daughter came about 10 years after the divorce. When I turned 50, and my daughter was 23, I asked her to tell me what, if any, traits of mine she would not like to inherit. Tears flowed from each of us, as she shared a few things with me that were painful to hear, but well worth it. It was the best birthday present I received, because it forged a new road to trust and intimacy that made our bond deeper than ever before.

I asked her this question because I wanted to know if there was anything in my behavior that I could change while I was still alive. There was, and I did, and I’m actually a lot happier and more comfortable in my own life because of it. I’m so proud of my daughter and grateful to her for being courageous enough to reveal her truth to me and for allowing me to face my fear of not looking perfect in her eyes (thank you, sweetheart).

I think all of us parents want be role models for our children, but what’s most important is that we be brave enough to be honest and authentic above all else. When we offer our offspring our deepest truth, we inspire them to live from theirs. I saw this in my daughter as she married this weekend, and to me, that was the most beautiful thing to witness.

I urge you to take the time to ask this question of your children when you feel they’re at the appropriate age. Of course they will inherit your traits, but wouldn’t you like to know which ones they have observed that are not inspiring to them? That way, you can decide if you want to shift some of your behaviors. Remember, when you keep evolving well past “middle age,” you’re modeling that for them as well.

Love is Stronger Than Fear

Desiree Rumbaugh

Tune in to the news, read the paper, talk to other people and you can easily find something to worry about or be afraid of. It’s worldwide. It’s the human condition. All humans have stress in their lives and feel afraid at times. Sometimes fear is actually appropriate and necessary in order to keep us safe. A certain amount of good stress is necessary in our lives as it keeps us growing and learning, but a build up of worry and fear is not good for us in any way and yet so many people seem to feed and thrive on a steady diet of fear!

Fear is at the root of chronic stress. Pain is another cause. We fear that we are not enough, that we made a big mistake in our life, that we’re not going to be okay in the future or that we will fall apart if we lose what we have.

The truth is, we are powerful spirits living human lives, we’re capable of much more than we know. No one, at the highest level of understanding is a victim. If that doesn’t ring true to you, read Victor Frankl’s account of his time in the concentration camp or study the lives of great leaders such as Mahatma Ghandi or Nelson Mandela.

In the bigger picture there are no mistakes, only lessons learned that lead to wisdom. And we will always be okay in the future if we pay full attention right here in the present  moment, because this is where our future is being created.

How do we learn to deal more effectively with fear? With roving anxiety? With bitterness and regret? We can push it down and many of us do that for years. Yet that’s only a band-aid solution, because it just keeps coming back up.

Here is my 5-step formula for releasing fear and cultivating more love:

1. Identify the fear. Call your anger, upset, bitterness, regret or anxiety by its real name: FEAR

2. Ask yourself why you are afraid. Who or what are you afraid of? And is the fear truly founded on an event? Are you actually in danger in this moment?

3. If you are in actual danger, do something to help yourself, or ask someone for help. Change the situation any way you can. If you’re not in harm’s way, continue asking yourself questions about the stress.

4. Breathe, meditate, pray. Take some time out by yourself.

5. Change your view. Look at the person or situation you are afraid of with new eyes; the eyes of your heart and soul. Practice compassionate understanding. It may be helpful to talk with someone you trust to get an objective outside opinion (witness consciousness). People who are not emotionally invested in our problems often have much clearer vision.

Experiencing even the smallest victory of love over fear gives us strength and nurtures our warrior spirit.

Every time I feel negative emotion and begin to spin my tales of woe, I now recognize it as a call to look deeper. When I look deeper, I always come back to the same answer: Love. It’s stronger than fear. The loving response feels more empowering to me. The eyes of compassion lead to the expanded and healthier heart.

What are you waiting for? Love is always available. Relief is just a perspective shift away.

Seven Ways To Cultivate a Playful, Child-Like Mindset

Do you remember how awesome it was to be a kid? Every day was a new opportunity to play, every person was a potential playmate, and every household item had the ability to be turned into something cool and fun, like a few blankets and chairs becoming a secret fort.

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As adults, we can still access that kid inside us and by doing so, infuse our days with joyful, creative energy. One of the well-known principles of yoga, or really any ongoing repetitive endeavor, is to keep a fresh perspective; a beginner’s mind. Because it’s such a simple idea, the importance and depth of it sometimes gets underestimated and overlooked.

Here are seven ways you can keep a child-like freshness in your yoga practice or any other area of your life.

1.     Be willing to try and try again and laugh when you “fail.” There really is no such thing as failure. What many people label failure is really only feedback on how to try again and do it even better. To see the truth of this, just watch an infant trying to walk. There’s no concept of failure, just a joyful exuberance to try and try again.

2.     Believe you can do anything, and speak to yourself accordingly. Kids believe in superheroes because kids believe that anything is possible. And truly, with the right attitude (and the willingness to try and try again – see #1) anything is!

3.     Be willing to be seen as silly by others. Kids are usually having too much fun to care how they look. Make joy and learning more important than your image, and you’ll inspire others to be goofy too (they really wish they could be, so set an example and give them permission).

4.     Be your unique, amazing self. Don’t edit yourself. That is such a grown up thing to do. Kids just ARE. They invite you to take them “as is.” So spend some time really discovering who you are and wear your style boldly and proudly.

5.     Shake it up. Don’t get caught in routines. Do things differently. Walk backwards. Brush your teeth with the “other” hand, try new routes, speak pig latin, eat your (healthy) dessert first.

6.     Observe kids playing and join in whenever possible. They’re pros at playing. And you were once upon a time. Engage in the light, buoyant, physical games like hop scotch, tag, jump rope and monkey bars to stimulate your childlike perspective.

7.     Learn a new, playful skill like hula hooping, square dancing or drawing which turn on the right side of the brain. Learning keeps the mind open and flexible.

This is just a starter list, of course.  There are endless ways we can stay young in mind and heart. But none of those ways will come to us until we choose to make keeping a childlike perspective a priority. Consider shaking your life up a little right now. Make a commitment to throw out your old, worn-out patterns and begin cultivating a fresh, new perspective that will infuse your life with playfulness and joy.

An Investment in Self Love

My usual morning routine begins with putting a teaspoon of coconut oil in my mouth and swishing it around for 15-20 min. Andrew actually likes it when I do this because the house is so much quieter.

An Investment in Self Love

Next would be to drink a glass of warm water with some lemon juice, followed by at least one liter of fresh water from our purification system. I drink another 1 or 2 liters throughout the day. Depending on my schedule, I have breakfast and do some work before my yoga practice, or get the practice done first thing before breakfast and work.

Lifting weights with www.jessicarumbaugh.com is also a part of my morning routine when I am home and can use my dumbbells, mini-trampoline, hula hoop and jumprope. I like a lot of variety in my workouts.

When I am traveling, I still drink the water, and I now have made a habit of doing 30 min. of aerobic exercise with videos from www.bradgouthrofitness.com. I really like the 15 min. programs called Live Lean 15. They are super simple to follow, target both the upper and lower body and I can do two of them in a row for 30 min. of sweat before I need to get ready to teach a class.

I know this seems like a lot to do in the morning, but it is an investment in self love that brings many returns. Even 30 min. per morning of any type of exercise is so much better than none!

Finally, I incorporate 10 min. of seated meditation and pranayama at either the beginning or the end of my yoga practice. I feel very blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to teach yoga for my career. Taking good care of my body and mind so that I can offer some inspiration to others is one of the best investments I could ever make.