5 Tips on Crushing Your To-Do List


If you think about all the things you would like to change – at work, with your health, your family, your relationships – how long is that list? I’d like to walk the dog more. I’d like to start bringing plastic bags to the store. This is the year that I will finally read a book for no reason. Does your list even have an end or does it keep going on and on and on?

Or maybe the things on your list are SOOO big (yeah, I was thinking I’d tackle global warming this week!?!, or I want to start my own company from nothing with just me and my snappy yoga pants – I so feel that one), that you feel totally overwhelmed just thinking about it.

That is one of the reasons that change it so difficult for us. Where do you even start? Even if I work on one of these things, there are 900 waiting in the wings, giving me the evil stink-eye glare that tells me “I better be the next one you start working on, Buddy”.

It is so much easier to forget the things-I-want-to-change list even exists and just couch it in your jams with some potato chips, a glass/bottle of wine and Netflix for like the rest of your life, right?

There are some days that I am so in that place. And then I look at my kids and I know I need to get up, have a shower, put on a fresh pair of non-peanut-butter-smeared yoga pants, make my super-octane coffee, and try.

Here is my 5 Step Try Plan to get you through whatever is on your change list . . .

1: Toss Your List. Get rid of it. Let the dog chew it up. Flush it down the toilet (be careful with that one). Put it in the shredder. Done. Gone. Now let’s start again, but this time, we have some different rules.

2: No More Than 5. This time you make your list there can not be more than five items for you to work on. They don’t need to be big things (my list has “write this blog” on it, and “order my daughter’s yearbook pictures”. I know. It’s February and she had the pics taken in September. I am working on it).

3: The Prize for Funniest Goal Goes To. One of the things on your list must make you laugh out loud every time you read it, or at the very least, it must make you smile ear-to-ear. What? How do I do that? Goals are serious and important and supposed to be boring. They have nothing to do with fun or – heaven forbid – laughing. Understood. Here are a couple of ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Wear my fanciest, over-the-top outfit to the grocery store for no reason and act like this is totally normal.
  • Dance from beginning to end to the entire album of (enter in my fav album of all time here).
  • Book an entire day off to do a marathon of some TV series I have never watched, but everyone is talking about.

4: Location. Location. Location. Tape the list to your fridge where you will see it, find it and smile at it every day. If you are a tape-it-to-my-bathroom-mirror soul, you do it. I am just in my fridge way more often than my bathroom, so that’s what works best for me.

5: Pick the Easiest One. Maybe it is just to take the recycling out. Maybe it is just to finish writing this blog 😉 but pick the easiest one, then do it and cross it off your list. Highlight it. Done. You might only get to that one goal today, and that’s cool. Tomorrow we have to tackle that epic dance party to Justin Timberlake’s entire Bring Sexy Back album. Or maybe you get most of your to-dos done and you need to write out a fresh 5 tomorrow. Awesome!

Just know that you have done a million, billion things to get right here where you are in life today, and it is pretty amazing because YOU are pretty amazing. And whatever step you decide to take next, it is just that, one step.

You have got this. You are slaying this because you always have, and always will!

Well, I am about to put on some stilettos to do my grocery shopping (that is a fib. It is February in Canada. No one wears stilettos anywhere, but I do have a snappy sequence yoga top that might do the trick).

But now back to you. In the comment section below, do let me know what is on your list, what album are you dancing to for your funny to-do, or you can always send me a pic of you grocery shopping all glammed up. That would be AWESOME!

Wishing you love and light, Dear Friend – Marla

5 Yogi Steps to Deal with the Haters

Now that February is here and we are all surrounded with pinks and reds, hearts and Valentine’s Day messages, cupids and talk of love everywhere we turn, I wanted to chat with you about the opposite, what’s at the other end, the haters.

We all see it and feel it. Maybe it is someone at work, something you saw on TV, a nasty post on social media, a snide comment from someone you know. When we experience this, even as a bystander, we often take some of it in – that anger and rage – and allow it to grow, fester and impact our wellness.

After spending 2 decades studying yoga and mindfulness, I have put together my top 5 lessons I have absorbed from some of the best teachers and gurus on this topic. So let’s dive into understanding what is really going on here in these instances when we feel haters in our presence and how to best deal with them.

  1. They had it before they walked in the room. The first thing to know is that people that utter words of hate, contempt or just general unkindness, developed these emotions a long time ago. Well before you posted that funny pic of you on vacation and got that reaction, a long time before you sat down for Christmas dinner when they made that comment to you. They have been carrying that fire – that pain – for a long time.
  2. It has nothing to do with you. We all have issues that have built up way deep inside of us. Even though we might not know it, we are all looking for outlets to get that pain out, to release it. The saying “The straw that broke the camel’s back” comes to mind where we snap, we lose it, we shout or kick the wall or utter words that are unkind to those around us. It has nothing to do with the person on the other end of your release.
  3. They want you to carry their fire. Think about the instances in your life where someone else was spewing fire with their words or actions. They have been carrying this fire for so long, that they are basically saying “Here, you carry this. I don’t want it anymore”. And that is what happens. As you are reading that not-so-awesome facebook post, listening to them gossip, you start to get angry. You are now carrying their fire. They won.
  4. Let their fire fall to their feet. Working in the area of detoxing and helping people constructively rid themselves of toxins (I think of it as emotional and physical sludge), that has built up, I know how important it is for us to have an outlet – tons of outlets – to get our crap out. Sometimes we do that by having a good cry, writing down what we are feeling, or just being honest with ourselves (I find yoga always helps). The goal is to get this crap out, away from us, but not to load them onto someone else’s shoulders. So when we encounter this hate, take a step back from them and let their fire fall to their feet. That fire is not yours to bear. Don’t take it on.
  5.  Send them love and light. I do this every single time I see an instance of someone wanting to spread their hate. I stop and really look at them. I take time to truly see them (thank you Yogi Kevin Naidoo @kevinnaidoo for this lesson), and understand that they are in great pain. They have so much fire and they desperately need a constructive release. I do this yogi thing where I envision them surrounded in a beautiful, healing, warm golden light and I mentally send them these words “You are beautiful. You are perfect. I see your pain. I also see that you are so much more than your pain. Know that you are loved. Know that you are a gift”.

Okay, cool. So now we have given the haters in our life a serious yoga-ninja-flying-drop-kick, but what if those words of hate are coming from you? We have all had bad days where maybe we lean on the horn a bit too much on our morning commute. Maybe your coffee didn’t work (happens to me at least once a week). Maybe you are being pushed to your limit physically or mentally at work and you are the one that says something not so awesome.

It’s okay. We have all been there. The other day when I was racing around getting the kiddos ready for school and it was -51C outside (found out that is an actual temperature that is possible on Planet Earth!?!) and they were arguing about LEGO and I couldn’t find a single toothbrush in the house, I told them that I needed them to go to school now or I was going to lose my mind. I said that. My 4-year-old told me if I lost my mind he’d find it for me. Kids! They push, pull, expand, sink and elevate your heart in more directions than you ever thought possible.

Anyway, back to you: In yoga and mindfulness, we have four helpful questions that are trained to ask ourselves before we speak:

  1. Is what you are about to say TRUE?
  2. Is it KIND?
  3. Is it really NECESSARY?
  4. Is it better or MORE HELPFUL THAN SILENCE?

I hope this helps you. So let’s get back to all the February love business now.

Please know that you are loved. Know that you are a gift (even better than chocolate).

Love and light – Marla

What is She Doing With Her Hands?

We hold these poses – downward dog, cobra, warrior 1 – to the point that our every cell knows exactly what it should be doing, what is should be feeling, where to soften, where to strengthen, but often the mystery and origin of each pose doesn’t even cross our minds. Does this pose look good in my snappy new yoga pants – yep – then on to the next pose, right?

Gosh, I guess I started practicing yoga over 20 years ago now. I had a small apartment walking distance from the university at the time. I was either there at school studying, or working as a waitress a Red Lobster restaurant nearby. There was no time or money for a gym membership.

MY FIRST YOGA VIDEO

As a math geek, I can’t say I really even though about participating in any type of sport seriously. I didn’t even really think about it. If it didn’t happen in the library, it didn’t happen in my mind. I did make a basketball team one year a friend recently reminded me, but just as their team manager. The coach thought my math skills would help them as I could analyze their opponents. Ha! I can only imagine the look on my parents face when I came home that day telling them I had made a sports team!

Needless to say, I was never going to win athlete of the year, dancer of the year, gymnast of the year, but I knew just walking to school every day wasn’t going to cut it if I wanted to be a wellness expert one day, so I got a yoga video tape.

Wow, doesn’t buying a videotape and using a VCR seem like a million years ago! I wonder where all those tapes are nowadays?

Anyway, there I was with my first yoga video. As a non-athlete, non-bendy type, I was realistic that this might not go well. I pressed play, slowly went through the moves, and was shocked to find out that, dang, I think I am slightly flexible (all that reaching for the books on the top shelf paid off, I guess). That really wasn’t that bad. I think I have found my “sport”.

AND THEN CALI

As the years went on, I kept up with my home yoga practice whenever I could fit it in, or remembered it (let’s be honest). I learned the postures I liked, the ones that were tricky for me and challenged me, the ones that I thought “How the heck did they even get in that pose?”

It wasn’t until we moved to San Diego later in our 20s that I really dove into the world of yoga. I didn’t even know that there were different styles: Bikram, Restorative, Yin, Core Crunch Yoga?!?

But I also learned more about the history of each posture, the story of each pose.

Verde Shoot-8

WHAT IS SHE DOING WITH HER HANDS?

I feel I have to stop and totally come clean with something right now. Whenever I was in a class and the yoga teacher would say “Close your eyes. Go inward. Concentrate on your breath. Blah, blah, blah”, I wouldn’t. I’d peek around to see what everyone else was doing. Boy, the guy next to me is totally asleep. How is that even possible? And I wonder where she got those awesome yoga pants? Do they sell them here? And what is the teacher doing with her hands. Are we supposed to be praying or something?

I remember staring at our teacher. I know I wasn’t supposed to as this was the shut-eye-go-inward bit, but I wondered what is she doing. Her head was bowed, hands in a prayer position. I guess she is praying?!?

ARE WE PRAYING?

I grew up in a somewhat Catholic family. We went to Catechism (basically its Sunday School except it is on Saturday mornings when all the good cartoons were on TV). I think it was just a good excuse to get my brother and I out of the house so my parents could have some time to themselves.

I can’t say we ever had a regular Sunday church routine. Normally after Catechism on Saturdays, we would head to my family’s farm a few hours out of the city as my Dad had to help out and keep the 100 acres there in order, so my brother and I got to run around the fields, hiding in the lilac bushes, exploring the barn, and looking for snakes for the rest of our weekends growing up.

All that said, I had an okay idea of what this whole religion thing was, and I was somewhat sure that here, in this California yoga class, something religion-ish was happening.

That was until I knew the story.

WHY THE NAME SCREWS US UP

Poor Angali Mudra, which is the hand position that I am demonstrating in these pictures. Poor thing it is misunderstood from the get go. First of all, it is called Angali (pronounced AHN-jah-lee), so like Angel, like this is the hand gesture for the angels.

You can see how people give this one look and thoughts of church, praying come to mind, but one day I learned the real story.

Verde Shoot-9

SO LETS TRY IT

Let me walk you through what it is supposed to look like and we will try it together, then I will tell you the story.

  • Connect your palms: The base of your palms meet and touch gently in front of you. Then the tips of your fingers meet, you guessed it, gently as well: pinky to pinky, thumb to thumb and so forth. Other than the base of your palms and the tips of your fingers, the remaining part of your hands don’t touch. It is kind of like you are ever so gently protecting a baby bird in your hands.
  • Thumbs to breast bone: Us yogis like to call that our heart center. So now your lovely thumbs make contact with your breast bone or sternum gently. (I know. I am counting the number of times I can write “gently” in one section, too).
  • Look at your baby bird: Now look down at where you imagined that baby bird to be in between your hands.

And that is it, Angali Mudra, but what does it mean?

THE STORY

This is how I tell the story of Angali Mudra word-for-word like I do when teaching a class if it feels right to tell it. I am not a crier by nature, but I usually tear up by the end of this story, so just be forewarned (read as: just know where your closest Kleenex box is).

Okay, so remember, this is how I tell it to my class, so imagine you are on your mat, wearing your snappiest pair of yoga pants, your muscles are rejoicing from a lovely class, your mind is “Ahhhh-ing” in bliss. I have just finished bringing you out of a very relaxing shivasana. We are now all sitting in a comfortable upright position, our hands in Angali Mudra at our chest. . . .

(now, I am in yoga teacher mode)

In yoga we often talk about how you, wherever you are today, with whatever you mentally and physically have showed up holding, are a gift, just as you are. That gift resides in you, in every cell, in your every breath, and is unique to only you. But it lives somewhere, and we call that place our heart center. All of your gifts, your ideas, your talents come from this special place.

Now I want you to think of your heart as a door. When our heart is open, when that door is open, you are in a place where that gift can grow and be shared and go into the world and become whatever it was that it was intended to.

But like anything in its infancy, any gift that is venturing through those doors in your heart for the first time, it is fragile and needs to be lovingly nurtured before it is ready to go out into the world.

This is why we practice Angali Mudra. Look down to your hands. Even though the tips of your thumbs meet as do the base of your palms, there is a space at your heart center that is open. This is where your gift enters your palms.

Now look at the space between your thumbs and your pointer fingers. It is like there is a window, a skylight,  facing up so only you can have a clear view of that beautiful gift that is there.

In this posture, you are looking at your gift. You are acknowledging that you are a gift. You are lovingly giving this gift the space it needs to grow before you are ready to share it.

On your next deep inhale, silently, slowly tell yourself “I am a gift. I am a gift. I am a gift”.

Every time you are having a hard day, or a hard moment, I invite you to come back to this pose and just keep repeating this to yourself: “I am a gift”.

Now it is time for a big, slow exhale, and with that exhale gently open your palms as you acknowledge that it is time to let that gift go, share it, let it grow. It is now time. It is now your time.

You are not a gift when you get that raise, when you hit that certain weight, when you achieve that next goal. You were born a beautiful, perfect gift. You will die a beautiful, perfect gift, and every breath you take in between, you are always that: a beautiful, perfect gift. Just as you are.

I am a gift. . . I am a gift. . . I am a gift.

Namaste, yogis!

So that’s it: Angali Mudra. It gets me every time. I know there are other versions of this story out there. If your version resonates deeper with you, stay with that, but I like this one.

IN SUMMARY 

I often do not feel like a gift. I feel tired (why didn’t I remember to buy coffee yesterday), and pulled in all directions (shoot, I did’t get back to that person yet today), and then there is the whole Yikes! What is the temperature outside in Winnipeg in January!?! So I come back to Angali Mudra and I use it. In a few easy breaths, it helps me press the reset button, grounds me, and takes me inward to what is important.

I also find it so helpful as a parent as it reminds me with the kiddos or with my partner, that they are all pure, beautiful gifts too, every tantrum, every argument over who should get the last banana, every I didn’t have time to clean the cat litter – all of that combined. They are precious gifts, too.

Just like you.

Wishing you love and light, Dear Soul – Marla

Special thanks to Flossie Park and the entire team at Soul of Yoga in Encinitas, CA for making it their mission to take every student that walks through their doors and lovingly showing them all the beautiful layers of what yoga really is!

If you have any comments or questions on this blog, questions or suggestions, I do love hearing from you. One of us Bliss Beings here will get back to you within 48 hours.

12-Step Summer Wellness Guide

With us now reaching the peak of the summer heat, we have been looking at how we can all get the most out of this season – enjoying fresh fruits & veggies, relaxing in nature – and not letting our wellness slip during this sometimes difficult time of year.

Even though most of us thrive in this weather, there is a group that does not tend to shine when the sun is. Nope, not vampires! They are our amazing Pitta body types that I speak about often. Does this sound familiar: someone who is uber determined, goal-oriented, assertive, has big ambitions, but on the flip-side, they can have a bit of a temper at time, be impatient, and have a shorter fuse than most.

These wonderful, amazing people that are capable of SO much when they nurture their strong internal fires can be left feeling like they are putting out a raging forest fire when the summer is at it’s peak (like right now).

Here I am sharing with you all a sneak peak of the FREE 12-Step Summer Wellness Strategy Guide to help you better understand Pittas (if you are one, or if some of those around you are), and how we can all help them get through this difficult time of year.

 

Wishing you all a wonderful, restorative and calm rest of your summer – Marla

2 Rooms Left

https://www.aaronsonthelake.ca/rest-restore-renew/

Hi All!

I am excited to let you all know that we have 2 rooms left for my next Wellness Retreat, which will take place from the evening of Thursday, August 23rd to after breakfast on Sunday, August 26th at the historic, lake-front Aaron’s on the Lake Bed and Breakfast, which is located about 45 minutes drive north of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Our days will be filled with sunrise yoga on the pier, meditation in their organic English gardens, wellness chats in their charming lake-front gazebo house and I’ll be cooking all of your meals from scratch for you. There will be plenty of time to rest, renew, restore during out 3 days together. Really, it will be 72-hours of pure pampering, and I can’t wait for it and to be with this small, intimate group to really recharge all of our batteries.

The cut off for registration for the retreat is this Friday, July 20th. I am offering you all a $100 off your registration for those of you registering with a friend, partner or spouse (or anyone you want to share a room with), so that means a savings of $200 per room! Just use the promotion code RETREATME at check out with our friends at Aaron’s on the Lake.

Learn more at Rest. Restore. Renew Retreat.

If you have any questions about the retreat, do not hesitate at all to reach out to me.

Let’s retreat – Marla

 

 

 

 

July 7-Day Wellness Cleanse Handouts

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Hi Bliss Body Wellness Tribe!

As we are all gearing up for next week’s 7-day cleanse that runs from July 9-15, I wanted to share with you the handout you will need. The first page of the PDF contains the shopping list, and then each day has it’s own worksheet space for you to use.

 

Bliss Body July Cleanse Handout

Tonight I will be hosting a live chat on Instagram (@blissbodywellness) to go over this sheet and all the wonderful shopping items you will need.

Can’t wait to get started with you all next week.

With gratitude,

Marla

 

So, Hi!

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Hi All! With so many wonderful new faces here, I wanted to take a moment to welcome you all, to THANK YOU!!! for following this wellness site along, and properly introduce myself.

So, Hi! I’m Marla. I am mom to Violet (6) and Jack (4) who you see dancing through my some of my pieces here from time to time. My hubby Sean, the kids and I returned to Winnipeg, Canada last year after being away for 17 years – mostly enjoying the sun, sand, food, PEOPLE and yoga in San Diego.

When I was very young, I became seriously obsessed with wellness. It stemmed from having many loved ones around me sick and pass away too soon from diseases that were (we know now) preventable. I didn’t like what my DNA was trying to hand me. I thought, sure, I’ll take the blue eyes, the feisty nature, the fondness for math, but the rest – the cancer, heart disease, weight issues, gout, allergies – I don’t want. I didn’t care if I had to work 10x as hard to be healthy because I wasn’t born with an athletic or coordinated bone in my body, or genetically destine have a “healthy” body shape. I was going to figure this out, and I did.

So, I did what you do: become a doctor, right? But after a couple years in pre-med, I realized I would probably be working to do more damage control than making sure people never got sick in the first place. I then ended up with a Food Science degree. But I needed more: In order to help myself and others on their wellness journey, I was going to need to learn a lot more. I studied any modality that was scientifically proven to play a role in our wellness: Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Tai Chi, Yoga, Reflexology, Reiki. A few years ago, I went back to my first love (medicine) and completed a fellowship in Healthy Aging at Stanford School of Medicine.

All those degrees, certificates, studies aside, I hands down learned the most important lessons when I was blessed with a 12-year life detour to work with some amazing wild animals. It is crazy to think that I really figured out how to be a healthy human being only through watching the rest of the animal kingdom. So my first breathing/meditation coach was an Asian elephant named Kamala. Each week when we were together, she would bow her massive head down allowing me to gently place my palm at the base of her trunk as we closed our eyes and slowly inhaled, exhaled together. I learned protein absorption from a rock-solid 400-pound silverback gorilla named Kakinga (who happened to be a vegan!) I learned the art of chewing your food from a leggy giraffe named Bahati who had the most dreamy eyelashes that seemed to go on forever.

So that’s me. The combination of all of those things has me here offering you all 7-day wellness detoxes once a month, leading wellness retreats, teaching yoga, writing detox cleanse books and cookbooks, and launching a weekly podcast called Your Wellness Journey this summer. Oh, and mom to Violet & Jack 😍

So tell me about you. Where are you on your wellness journey? What is behind you? What do you hope to find ahead of you?

So tremendously humbled and grateful for you . . here . . today!

Love and light, Marla

 

 

Podcast: The Science Behind Eating Food

Bliss Bosy Wellness-35

Hi Bliss Body Tribe!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with veteran podcast producer Matt Cundill of Sound Off Podcasts. In this food episode we dove into why we crave salt and sugar, moving from San Diego to Winnipeg last year, why the European diet is so different from the American one, and what is up with our love handles. I am not sure how Matt did it, but he even snuck a few Star Wars food references into the show 🙂

You can listen along here and let me know what you think!

Wishing you all love and light!

Marla

Oh, and I am just starting to get the Bliss website up and running, so my apologies it is mostly under construction 🙂 I promise it will be complete in no time.