Swimming Exercise and Mediation

Swimming in tropical colors.

Swimming too boring?

Are you not good at swimming?

Cant’ get started with meditation but want too?

Try this!

Reset your mind and body during a busy week.

Hi, I’m John Dawson Channel creator for eFit30.

I don’t usually appear in eFit30 videos; I’m, the behind the scenes guy but I wanted to share with you a different kind of exercise that I discovered by accident. I have had some injuries in my life that have led me to explore many different types of activities many of which I have shared with you here on eFit30.

Swimming is often not considered by many to be an option for exercise as it is not very mentally stimulating and yet can be quickly tiring. However, there is a way to change all that and turn this is a combination of cardio and mindful meditation, that is second to none.

So here is the step by step instruction on how to do this. I won’t be doing this on video in the swimming pool for you, but I will describe this to you so you can do it.

To meditate you need to pay attention to breath as opposed to breathing. You need to be able to focus on breathing in and out. You could also use focus or a type of body scanning meditation.

To better help with this exercise I suggest that you use a snorkel, flippers, googles and a nose clip. These tools will change the way you swim so that it is more effortless and enables you to be centred and focused only on your breath. When you are swimming, then you will be able to leave your head in the water seeing only the bottom of the pool. The best type of pool is about 50 meters long with lanes, so you don’t bump your head during the practice.

Start by sitting on the edge of the pool and clearing your mind of thoughts of work or outside matters. You may want to take a note of the time if you wish to punctuate your swim with a walking exercise after about 10 minutes.

Make sure all your equipment is adjusted so you are totally comfortable so won’t be distracted by discomfort or equipment malfunction, however, if this does happen don’t let that stress you simply see it as an opportunity to reset your practice.

On your first lap, I suggest you use breast stroke. Don’t swim quickly but rather focus on your arms reaching full and comfortably through the water. Notice the bubbles as you push forward and each time bring your hands back to a prayer pose then stretch. Some way down the first lap you may want to turn your attention to your legs making sure that you clench your but and for a small arch in your back as you gently approach the wall.

Once you reach the wall, you may want to stand and turn rather than tumble turn as your snorkel will fill with water. If there is a need to reset your equipment, this is a good time to do it before you turn back. On this next lap try over arm now as you have begun to warm your body. Once again on this lap, you can scan down your body to pay attention to your stroke, feeling that your arms and legs move freely and calmly though the water. The purpose of this is to get a smooth, comfortable stroke established which you will use throughout the rest of your practice.

Pay attention to your arms, your stroke, move your thumbs pas your thighs, watch your hands travel through the water and find a rhythm and stroke that suits you.

At the next turn switch back to breast stroke so that now you are blending short bursts of High-Intensity training into your practice. This although seeming effortless will produce results later and is almost exercise by stealth.

In this lap focus on your breath having established a rhythm on your first lap. If you are not happy with your stoke, it is ok to use as much time as necessary to feel comfortable with your routine. When focusing on your breath, you will notice that it is easy to do as this is a great part of what you are doing. Try to regulate your effort so that you are not out of breath but rather taking deep and purposeful breaths. If you find that you are out of breath, you may need to take the time to reset your body and start again.

Now that you have set the scene it is a good opportunity to remember the context of the reflective part of your practice and that is non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go.

As you are swimming up and down the pool, you continue to switch strokes each time. Focus on a “being” mode make time for yourself, slow down and nurture calmness and self-acceptance in yourself. This is a good opportunity to stop all your doing, learning how to make this time for yourself, slow down your mind and nurture calmness and self-acceptance in yourself using the serenity to focus and centre, learning to observe what your mind is up to from moment to moment, watch your thoughts let go of them without getting so caught up and driven by them.

If you are feeling fatigued, you can split your routine in two with a walk. Starting from either end of the pool leave all you swimming equipment behind and walk towards the other end of the pool if the pool is the same depth at either end this is best otherwise you may need to begin at the shallow end and turn back when it gets too deep.

Walk slowly and using the techniques above consider how you move. Carefully use your whole foot to grip the bottom of the pool and stride forward thinking about your form with each step. Once you are comfortable with your pace and are feeling that you are fully using all the muscles in your legs, you may want to move your arms to create resistance in the water. Using opposite arm to leg sweep your extended arm forward with your hand cupped as if you mean to push as much water as you can away from you as you strive forward. After several steps, you may see a small wave form behind you and maybe even see the wash fall over the side of the pool and into the overflow. Once you have established your routine, relax into your meditative state and let the water calm your thoughts. Watch the light reflect though the ripples in front of you.

Once you have completed a forward lap you can turn a walk backwards, this time cupping your hands back and pushing the wave out behind you. If you feel the strain in any of your joints from this, don’t continue this exercise and move onto the next part.

Next crab walk sideways using only one leg to push you, keep that leg as straight as possible and use your hips to push out, if you have done Pilates clams you may feel this working some of those muscles. Again to add extra resistance use both arms at the same time to push a wave of water to one side as you extend your leg.

After you have completed one lap on each side you may wish to do the wind-down, swim using the same techniques as above except this you may feel different to the first time you as you be more relaxed and know what to expect.

Your routine should take about 25 minutes. In the end, I suggest these stretches finish your routine.

Calf Stretch. With both hands on the pool, wall stretch out your legs behind you. Legs should be hip width apart, feet pointing forwards towards the wall. Lean in towards the wall with your arms outstretched then begin to lower your heels towards to ground. If you require more stretch, you can start to bend your arms slightly, keeping your feet on the ground.

Next a Thigh or Quadriceps Stretch. This stretch helps loosen up the knee joint. Stand near the pool wall for support and steady yourself with the right hand. Lift the right foot behind your back and grab it with the left hand. Stand straight with the thighs vertical and gently push the foot further towards the lower back towards the buttocks. Then when you are ready to swap sides.

You can use this exercise with other Pilates or Yoga videos from our channel each week as a holistic approach to your fitness.

If you would like to explore mediation more thoroughly, I highly recommend reading, “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness” by Jon Kabat-Zinn







Top 5 Ways To Boost Your Metabolic Rate

Want to boost your metabolic rate so that you can see faster fat loss success? If so, you need to start doing a few key things throughout the day that will help you burn more calories 24/7.

Those who do have a faster metabolic rate will see an enhanced level of fat loss results because of the fact it’s that much easier for them to create the calorie deficit they’re going for.

Let’s look at some of the best methods to boost your calorie burn out there.

Sip Green Tea

First, consider drinking at least two cups of green tea daily. Green tea contains certain compounds that will help to stimulate your metabolic rate and get you burning up body fat at a faster pace.

The slight caffeine content of green tea as well will help to boost your metabolism up even higher yet and help to energize your body.

Get More Sleep

Next, also consider getting more sleep. Those who are deprived of sleep tend to feel sluggish and tired all day long and also have a slower metabolism as well.

Furthermore, lack of sleep can also cause food cravings to set in, so yet another reason you should be getting enough.

Use Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a fast and easy way to boost your metabolism as this spice will increase the amount of energy you burn off a heat in the hours following consumption.

If you prefer not to use cayenne pepper, adding chili peppers would work equally well.

Interval Train

Interval training is a must-do as part of your workout program if you want to see good results. After an intense interval training session, your body will burn up to a few hundred more calories over the course of the next 24 hours.

This significantly helps enhance your overall fat loss results.

Build Muscle

Finally, don’t overlook the power of adding lean muscle mass to your frame. The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest, so the easier fat loss will be.

Focus on strength training workouts or pilates classes to help make this happen.

So there you have the main ways to boost your metabolic rate so that you can go on to see the fat loss results you desire.

Do these and you won’t be disappointed.

Start here with this Pilates routine.

5 Handy Tips to Have a Fit Vacation

Hi, my name is Jacquilyn, I am the food-loving fitness enthusiast behind Jacquilyn in the Kitchen. Chances are at any given point in the day, I am either eating, thinking about eating or reading a cookbook. And you can imagine that so much time dedicated to food must be balanced by exercise. When I discovered eFit 30 I was so happy to have found a great resource for workout videos that kept me engaged. I particularly love the Pilates video series and have been an avid follower ever since.

I am currently living in Tuscany as a culinary assistant for a bed and breakfast that does cooking classes (i.e. my dream job). When I was planning my trip, I wanted to be smart about maintaining balance and still actively trying to be healthy. I created a workout schedule for myself that includes the eFit 30 workouts because they are so valuable and accessible. I am three weeks into my trip and I have learned a lot so far about being fit on vacation.

Lessons learned:

1.Plan ahead: it is way TOO easy to slip into vacation mode and mentality of “I will get to that later”. Well my friends, if you are on an extended stay like myself (6 weeks), that mentality can wreak havoc on your body and everything you work so hard for. So, plan ahead and know that your trip will include indulgences, but make sure you have plenty of opportunity to move around as well.

2.Compromise: when travelling with others, I have realized I can’t be so selfish and get my way all the time. I might have an idea in my head of the perfect workout for me, but if someone wants to workout with me, then I should be happy for the company and happy that I am still getting exercise.

3.Don’t make excuses: I don’t have the luxury of familiarity or creating my own schedule, but I CAN work with anything I am given and make time for my workouts whether it is early morning or late evening.

4.Be adaptable: I am trying to be creative with my workouts and use my surroundings. I wasn’t able to bring any equipment with me and I am not getting a gym membership, so I am using workout videos without equipment and the great outdoors to inspire me!

5.Enjoy your vacation: vacation absolutely should feel different from your every day life. You might get it once a year if you are lucky, so ENJOY it.

Jacquilyn in the Kitchen

 Jacquilyn in the Kitchen


The eFit30 update.

Last Friday was the launch of the LiveLighter sugary drinks campaign, where the spotlight is being turned on the consumption of sugary drinks, which is associated with increased sugar and energy intake and in turn, weight gain, obesity and chronic diseases. http://www.livelighter.com.au/the-facts/sugary_drinks.aspx  We will be writing a blog on this next week and give you our take on this hot topic.

For something completely different this week we will be filming “Trevor Aung Than” at Circus conditioning! http://circusconditioning.com/?page_id=22 Trevor says “To be clear, I do not actually teach circus-skills but am able to help with problems you may be having because of your acro/gymnastic trainings.” In short he will be showing Lara Dwyer from Sukha Yoga, some moves to help Yoga Practice and hopefully you too. Lara may also show us some new Yoga routines.

You may have noticed the new Prenatal Yoga series from Holly Ginn-Thompson, this is part of a four part series that adds to our existing mother baby series from Babes on the run. These are very gentle exercises and help get you ready for baby. Let’s face it if this is your first this may also be the last time you get to yourself! (Dang did I say that out loud, well to be fair I have 4!)

We have also added to the Pilates routines from Elizabeth Wilson and now have the full range of routines from beginners to expert; this series is a solid set of exercises and uses all the mat pilates routines you expect and love! Liz explains and demonstrates them perfectly, this may be why she is a pilates examiner!

Back on the website we have had two blogs a week for the past couple of weeks inspired by your questions on our YouTube Channel, so hopefully we may eventually answer one of your questions in detail in the coming weeks! If not email it and we will try to answer it for you.

Have a great week and stay fit!


Embrace Simplicity

woman doing yogaA yoga practice can appear complicated when a novice watches experienced yogis do their moves. It is understandable why one would hesitate getting on the mat. Not to mention the plethora of styles that are emerging on what seems a daily basis. The photos of serious twists and balance can push the “not me” button in the mind of one on the fence of giving yoga a try.

Here’s the deal…it is a practice. Start simple, stay simple. The more you practice, what appeared too complicated to even attempt will eventually join the ranks of what is simple in your practice. Practice to embrace the inner workings of the body as you immerse yourself in a move.

It takes life experience to truly embrace the philosophy of “keep it simple.” The word simplicity implies there are no bells and whistles to enjoy. One assumes simplicity lacks complexity; however, this assumption is wrong. It is the perceiver’s choice to feel and absorb the details of what appears to lack substance. The heart and mind are given time to synchronize. Allow that to happen and feel what happens.

Leonardo da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Teaching a magnificent woman, who is handling the challenges of cancer, expanded my appreciation of simplicity with just one
pose. Still weak from a recent chemo treatment, we focused on breathing and grounding poses to stabilize and nourish. Dandasana
(Staff pose)
revealed the magic of stillness.

To help the spine re-learn the action of being straight and strong, she sat with her back against the wall. The shoulders were rolled back and down so that she could feel the scapulas gently press the wall. The straight arms pressing on the palms into the Earth enhanced the sense of strength. The dorsi flexed feet of extended legs with engaged quadriceps activated the leg muscles. She was strong without force.

As she inhaled, she felt inspired. As she exhaled, she felt the flow of energy move. A simple pose with complex results. Anatomically, the
body was active while the mind  relaxed. The synaptic connections in the brain relayed the message to release the enzymes that ignite the internal pharmacy to deliver the chemicals to restore. It is only when the body is in the parasympathetic state the immune system can truly function.

The connection to the Earth in an active, conscious state provided stability and confidence. Taking time to push fears into the ground to be recycled awakened a sense of well-being. Psychologically, the mind experienced a new perspective and truly enjoyed the
beauty of the present moment. Each moment built onto the next moment and a new bridge was crossed.

The envisioning of a golden thread coming down from above into the crown of the head added to the strength of the pose. I could see
her be lifted up ever so slightly. I guided her to “see” each organ smile…then, each cell. The power of smiling added to her input of positive
energy. In fact, her Dandasana transcended from being a pose to a sophisticated state of being.

Ten minutes of Staff pose felt like a timeless sense of bliss. Simple…yet, not. To guide and interconnect with this state of being was
a gift for both of us. The uniting of the energies emerged with the simple action of being present and aware of the details. Healing was taking place.

After our practice, she felt more energy, no more pain, and the color of the skin was vibrant. I share this story for those blessed with good health and those in pursuit of homestasis. There is always plenty to learn why and how something works. But, sometimes just letting it happen without mental interference is just what the mind, body, and spirit needs.

Practice sophisticated simplicity. You might find it was just what you have been seeking

Valerie Goodman

10 Superfoods

Some foods are so packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial substances that they have been labeled as Superfoods.

Including these superfoods in our everyday diet can have health benefits. These include protecting our bodies from some cancers, heart disease, high cholesterol and toxins. They can help our digestion and improve our overall health.

These superfoods are also rumored to make you live longer! Now with such amazing benefits why not look at including some of these in our diets!

Blueberries: These are my favourite of the superfoods. They taste delicious and are easy to pack for a quick snack. Kids love them! They are full of ellargic acid, which is an antioxidant that has been proven to slow the growth of some cancerous tumors. The extracts also have anti-inflammatory properties. Such a small little fruit that really packs a punch! Even better 1 cup is only 80 calories but has 4gms of fibre.

Goji Berries:  These little berries have been used for years by China for medicinal purposes. They have more Vitamin C than oranges, more Beta carotene than carrots and more iron than steak! They are also filled with antioxidants and Vitamin B. Try some goji berry tea.

Broccoli:  Well known for it’s cancer preventing powers this little veggie is loaded with Vitamin C, Folic acid and carotenoids and Vitamin K which helps in blood clotting and building strong bones. It is also packed with fibre so keeps you fuller for longer!

Salmon:  Salmon is packed with omega 3 fats and vitamin D, E, B-Carotene. Omega 3 is beneficial for our heart health and brain development and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Just 2 serves per week can provide us with the recommended intake of omega 3.

Kale:  Low in fat high in fibre this inexpensive veggie is full of antioxidants, Vitamin K, C, A and is high in iron. Often known as the “Queen of Greens”. Kale is great for your heart health and eye health as well as having antioxidants that help prevent cancer.

Yoghurt: Yogurt contains active cultures known as “probiotics” or “friendly Bacteria”. They help to restore digestive health and fight off infection by boosting our immunity. It is also full of calcium and is much easier to digest than milk. Such a versatile food easily added to our diets.

Sweet Potato: These delicious veggies are full of vitamin A, C, Calcium and potassium.  Sweet potatoes are low in calories, full of fibre and stabilize blood sugars so are very good for diabetics.

Eggs: A high source of protein eggs can leave you feeling more satisfied for longer. They are full of antioxidants that help keep eyes healthy and help reduce the risk of macular degeneration. One egg a day is still ok if you are watching your cholesterol.

Beans: Loaded with insoluble fibre, which helps lower cholesterol. They are a great source of protein and some even contain omega 3. You can add them to your cooking, use them as a side dish or even replace your meat with them one or two nights a week. Great to help lose weight as they are low in fat!

Dark Chocolate: This can be a very healthy treat! Rich in Flavanoids, which can lower blood pressure and boost, heart health. Choose 70% cacao to get the maximum benefits of the antioxidants. Having a small treat with such a rich taste can feel decadent and even give your mood a lift!




Breathe Life in Yoga

Irregardless if you have practiced yoga for a long time or you are new to it, the fuel that gives you  energy is your breathing. The average person unconsciously takes around 21,600 breaths a day. Calculate a year’s worth and you have taken 7,884,000 breaths! Your breathing sustains life in every cell of your body and mind. Your breathing can be a reflection of inner emotions or used as a means to manage them. Yoga can instill in your mind and body the secret of internal homeostasis while off the mat.

Simply by learning to consciously breathe life in your practice.

By practicing different breathing methods, you discover the power of the inhale and exhale. To focus on a four count inhale and four count exhale, you cut the average minute intake of 12-18 breaths in half. By letting yourself be engulfed with awareness of breathing, time perception changes.

Think about it. Using a four coVal at Radnor-7046-3unt breath in an hour practice, you breathe around 480 times. Making that change in breathing alters more than your oxygen intake. Notice how time flies during a great practice? Your perception of time has been altered by focused breathing. By being in the magical zone of a practice, time vanishes. An hour can feel like minutes. You stopped watching the clock and let go of time.

Time lost its grip on you…simply by conscious breathing.

Breathing slowly and deeply can calm you. Breathing rapidly can energize you. Breathing in response to negative emotions can progress them to another level. Your brain has neurotransmitters to respond to how you inhale and exhale. Good deep breathing tells the brain to tell the body that all is well by releasing serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid). These transmitters and hormones send the message of bliss, focus, calmness, and happiness throughout the body.

Shallow rapid breathing ignites the sympathetic nervous system to get ready to fight. Cortisol , cortisone and adrenaline tell the body to slow down digestion, suppress the immune system and make sleep a challenge. Let the overflow of these hormones and neurotransmitters fire away and your body can surrender to illness. This “fight or flight” mode was not designed to be the dominant force in your body. It does serve a purpose in times of emergency. Unfortunately, stress unconsciously propels individuals to breathe shallow and imbalance of hormones wreak havoc on the inside.

Done consciously, you can use rapid breathing to your benefit. “Breath of fire” is to inhale and exhale rapidly by taking a smaller intake of air. To do breath of fire while in a pose, such as Downward Dog, for a minute can get you charged up. It is energizing and wakes up another realm of senses. To integrate rapid breathing in a morning practice can give an extra boost of adrenaline to the body to use. The difference in using it in a practice vs. response to stress is that you’re the one in control. You are using your body’s resources to your advantage. You might find your need for caffeine replaced by a few minutes of breath of fire!

The classic Ujjayi breath (ocean breath) is a staple in breathing to practice. All breathing is done through the nose. The space in the throat is slightly constricted in order to produce the audible sound of air passing through…like a wave in the ocean. To do it, you make the effort to swallow and retain the engagement of the throat. It is not a tight hold…just enough tension to feel and hear the breathing. When you release, the air you breathe becomes quiet again.

Ocean breath gives the mind something else to listen to instead of thoughts. It improves your sense of linking breath with movement. It is calming and energizing at the same time. Also, by practicing ocean breath for a few minutes after you practice, it helps to move out lactic acid that built up in the muscles you just worked. You can minimize soreness by breathing.

The body and mind work together. Consider conscious breathing a practice within a practice. There are numerous other breathing techniques to experience. The key is to make it a focus and the intuition of what will serve you best to practice will  emerge.

By Valerie Goodman


Start your morning with Vinyasa flow Yoga practice.

Sukha Yoga teaches Vinyasa Yoga. A Vinyasa yoga class involves linking asana’s (body posture) and breath in a connective sequenced flow. At Sukha Yoga, we invite you to practice in a way that is comfortable for your body so that you can be completely present and aware of how you like to move. The increased interest and attention to ourselves on how we move and breathe encourages us to slow down and in turn teaches us to become more aware, on and off the yoga mat.

lara 10

Lara is passionate about helping people maintain a positive, healthy well-being. Throughout her studies and work as a Naturopath (Bachelor of Natural Therapies from Southern Cross University) she practiced Yoga and was always curious to learn more about this ancient health promoting system. In 2008 Lara moved to New York City and along with many other ‘New Yorkers’, sought out Yoga to help create calm in the midst of so much chaos. It was here in a sweaty, packed studio at Laughing Lotus Yoga Centre in Chelsea, Lara was introduced to ‘Lotus Flow’ Vinyasa Yoga. This beautiful practice of Vinyasa honours Yoga’s rich lineage while incorporating innovative sequencing, mindful alignment, breathing practice and meditation. The power of this lively practice inspired Lara to become a teacher and bring it home to Perth.

Lara seeks inspiration for her classes from music, stories, literature and poetry and bows down to her teachers, Dana Flynn, Mary Dana Abott, Sheri Celentano, Alison Cramer and the powerful faculty at Laughing Lotus in New York City for sharing the many blessings. Lara is dedicated to furthering her knowledge and experience as a Yoga teacher. In 2010 she completed her restorative Yoga teacher training with Judith Hanson Lasater and in 2012 Lara returned to NYC to complete her Advanced Teacher Training a Laughing Lotus. While in NYC, Lara undertook courses with internationally renowned teachers Rodney Yee, Elana Brower, Raghunath Cappo and Josh Michaell.

Lara is a member and registered with Yoga Australia and her 500 hour teacher training is recognised internationally by Yoga Alliance. Lara is a proud ambassador for lululemon athletica and is grateful for the support in which the team at the Perth City store has given her. Lara is honored to be able to share her love for Yoga and pass on the ancient teachings  with those who show up on the mat.






This “Afternoon flow” practice is designed to allow you to release your shoulders especially if you have been sat in front of a computer all day!

By Lara Dwyer http://www.sukhayogaaustralia.com.au/

Lara from “Sukha Yoga” teaches Vinyasa Yoga. A Vinyasa yoga class involves linking asana’s (body posture) and breath in a connective sequenced flow. At Sukha Yoga, we invite you to practice in a way that is comfortable for your body so that you can be completely present and aware of how you like to move. The increased interest and attention to ourselves on how we move and breathe encourages us to slow down and in turn teaches us to become more aware, on and off the yoga mat.


The Real Shavasana

Have a great yoga practice, full of energy, twists, new edges and surrendering to those precious moments of Shavasana (corpse pose) is delicious. The breath returns to normal, the heart slows down and a lot of things beyond the physical start to let go. If you let yourself drift in between the delicate balance of physical to non-physical awareness, you get a glimpse of the horizon that exists within you and beyond.

All fears, doubts, anger, and any other slew of nagging emotions can recede out of mental awareness. Peace, love, serenity and stillness settle if you let Nature take its course. Slowly, you’re guided out of your shavasana and brought back to the physical world and get on with your day. The good dose of dopamine and new synaptic connections of positive thoughts help ingrain your practice in you to the cellular level.

Do you fear the REAL Shavasana? Meaning…you lie down and physically surrender for good. No touching of fingertips, no deep inhale, no reactivation of the thought process…the practice of life is truly over. This article is dedicated to a dear friend, who’s mother faced fear and watched it be replaced with beauty.

After attending a beautiful celebration of my close friend’s mother, I started to really ponder the heart of Shavasana. Just like yoga, life is truly a practice. It doles out its mirage of experiences and each of us get to choose how to approach them. It is not meant to be an easy practice; otherwise, you would stagnate and fail to learn your strengths and weaknesses.

In yoga, a new pose presents itself, a new challenge or a changed thought of approach reveals itself. Life is no different…except, you stay on the mat of life until the whole practice is complete. How you practice life boils down to choices of approach. You can cast blame to excuse yourself for circumstances; however, true strength is built from an inner light that some hearts just can’t help but fan with faith, hope and love.

My friend’s mother was a true yogi…even though she never touched a mat. She took every challenge with the strength she possessed in her heart. She did not fear to be who she was and was anxious to be a part of people’s lives. She made a difference in many lives that will be passed on in countless ways. She was loved by all who knew her. Even when tossed the C (cancer) card, she played her cards with hope, faith and courage. She waited for her miracle to manifest and her hope was realized. Miracles do happen and my friend was blessed to witness it.

Madeline passed away on September 24th; however, that is not to be considered losing the game. If we truly believed that concept, then know that every person in the past, present and future is a loser. I think you know better. The miracle, the gift, the delicious drift between the physical and non-physical world, gave her a glimpse of her next “practice.” The sharing of this experience will forever change my practice of yoga and life.

Two days before she died, she woke up and was vividly lucid, pain-free, and in awe. She grabbed her daughter’s hand, looked her in the eyes and exclaimed, “I’ve gotten a look at the Other Side. It is beautiful. So beautiful. Everyone is there. The colors are beautiful.” Struck by the reality of what her mother was saying, her daughter told her she would be holding her hand until she was ready to join the others. She asked her mom, “you’re not afraid anymore, are you?” Madeline smiled, shooked her head and whispered…”no, not anymore.”

“It is so beautiful…” and she squeezed her daughter’s hand to reinforce what words were insufficient to express. She lost any fear and never lost hope because she discovered a new reality. No contrived illusion…a glimpse of what is past the edge of fear and doubt. She got her miracle…just not the one her mind thought was best, but the one the Light in the heart knew was best.

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing, and no good thing ever dies”. (Shawshank Redemption)

The day she surrendered to her ultimate Shavasana, she was smiling. Not only smiling, but moving her lips with the remnants of physical strength she had left to the heartfelt song, You Are So Beautiful, by Joe Cocker. There was no resistance; only blissful surrender to the ultimate Shavasana we all will face one day.

May we all have the peace within the heart to face Death with a smile and remember it is only a practice to take us to a brighter and more beautiful edge to cross over. Thank you, Madeline, for being who you were…nothing more, nothing less…simply beautiful.

By Valerie Goodman.


Flexibility, Candy and Yoga

“How long will it take before I can get more flexible?” is probably the most common question asked by most upcoming or new yogis. This is like asking the classic Tootsie Roll lollipop question of “how many licks will it take to get to the center?”

There is no true answer. It depends on the person experiencing it. With the Tootsie Roll, you can take your time and relish the flavor drop by drop until that chewy center reveals itself. Or, you can take a few quick rolls of the lollipop in the mouth until you crunch down to the core and enjoy it for a few brief moments. Which sounds more gratifying?

The same approach is with yoga. Forget about time. Forget about the agenda of poses to be able to do by a self-imposed deadline. Forget about flexibility. It sounds strange and conflicting to the task motivated mind. What is more amazing is that the moment you stop worrying about what you think you should be doing, you will discover the bliss of enjoying what you ARE doing. The more flexible you become with time, the more details you will notice. Whether it be music, art, acting, a single flower in the grass or yoga, the beauty of all masterpieces are in the details.

When in Downward Dog, do you use the time to feel each fingertip press down? Do you feel the subtle lengthening of the muscles in the body take place? Do you envision the cells moving around enjoying your exterior movements that nourish them to be stronger? Do you feel the gift of inhaling and exhaling consciously? So many details to observe moment by moment….breath by breath. Use this flexibility of time off the mat. It is in the details of active living that we learn more, grow more, become more. The advancement of technology has not given us more time…it has made the “to do list” longer with less time to experience the details.

If you’re going to eat the Tootsie Roll lollipop, savor every nuance of it. The sweet flavor covering every taste bud the longer you let it rest in your mouth. The subtle change of the smoothness of the candy as you let it melt and coat your throat. The silly guilty pleasure of savoring sweet sugar. The anticipation of getting to the core.The priceless gift of just being in the moment. The center will come soon enough and then it is gone. It is not wise to just keep on eating candy to enjoy the moment; however, yoga is a candy you can devour for a lifetime.

Practice it long enough and you will uncover a core of yourself you never really knew. You intuitively know it is there; however, if you let time press you forward too fast, you might overlook the most beautiful of details. Fortunately, the unraveling of the layers of Self via yoga is a lifetime practice.

So what’s the hurry? Enjoy the flavors that make you who you are. You just might find there was more to you than you could ever imagine. Let the mind become more flexible with time and the physical changes will emerge. The sweet core will not dissolve and leave nothing else to enjoy. Instead, it will do just the opposite. Expect an expansion and be ready to share it. You will not run out of sweetness to share.

So, to simply reverse roles with inquiring minds of flexibility, I ask you…once you become more flexible, how many practices will it take for you to leave the mat?

by Valerie Goodman