Stretch Yourself

Yoga is about flexibility of the body, but it’s also about flexibility of your mind, spirit, and strength. Flexibility is something that is achieved incrementally. Stretching just a little every day makes impossible yoga poses possible! Through Crosswork, you can apply yogic habits to other areas of your life, like your finances or writing goals. The incremental habit of saving $25 a week or writing 250 words a day will help you reach your goals of paying off a debt, taking a vacation, or writing a book.

Flexibility of the Mind Yoga helps to change your thought patterns and perceptions. Instead of ruminating over the past or getting lost in daydreams about the future, yoga helps you learn how to rest and be present in the moment.

Flexibility of the Spirit Yoga helps you learn to practice non-violence (or ahimsa) toward others and toward yourself. Self-compassion and empathy for others help you lean into thoughts like believing that good is coming your way. It helps you overcome self-limiting beliefs that keep you from reaching your goals.

Flexibility of Strength Yoga helps you build strength and flexibility in large and small muscle groups. For instance, inversions and handstands help build the hands, forearms, and shoulders. But they also help build your core and glutes. Even mild inversions, like wide-leg forward fold, increase your strength.

But there’s a difference between stretching yourself and stretching yourself too thin. Stretching yourself may be uncomfortable, but it leads to self-improvement and self-awareness. If you’re caught up in a hustle-bustle that leaves you feeling perpetually drained, chances are you’ve overextended yourself. The good news is, even if you find that you are currently stretched to-the-max, yoga also teaches us how to realign and begin again.

Why Meditate?

What do you think of when someone says meditation? Maybe you picture a person sitting crisscross applesauce, with their hands on their knees, chanting OM. Maybe you think of monks or others who have devoted themselves to a life of faithful practice. Or perhaps you think of someone who is completely tuned-out.

Meditation is concentration. In Sanskrit, the word is samadhi (suh-MAH-dee.) To meditate is to be still and think on something. It is the opposite of tuning out; it is a habit of intentionally focusing your mind and awareness. Mindfulness meditation is powerful. It is free, it can be learned by nearly anyone, and it can be practiced anywhere.

Meditation is powerful. Along with other practices, including asanas (or postures), breathing, and ethics, mindfulness meditation is one of the 8 limbs of yoga. Through meditation, many people have treated or reduced the effects of anxiety and stress. It can lower your allostatic and oxidative stress loads, diminish the signs of aging, and give you an overall sense of well-being. Meditation also builds neuroplasticity– or your brain’s ability to learn and adapt.

Meditation is free. Let’s face it: a clean, sustainable lifestyle filled with organic food and clothing generally costs more. Yoga, walking, sunlight, sleep, and mindfulness meditation are free. This makes them viable health benefits to nearly everyone.

Meditation is accessible. You do not need any special clothing, equipment, gear, or a specific environment to practice meditation. You can begin anywhere, any time. Mindfulness practices are safe for people of different ages and abilities. And perhaps the most significant facet of mindfulness meditation is that it gives truly different people a common bond.

Sarah teaches mindfulness meditation for stress reduction and chronic pain.

Good Bones

When it comes to wellness, a lot of emphasis is usually placed on nutrition, muscles, and regimen. What do I eat? When is carb day? Am I replacing electrolytes? How many reps should I do? Too often, bones get overshadowed by the attention that we give to muscle development. In fact, our bones are so dependable that (unless there is an injury) most of us don’t really think a lot about caring for our bones until advanced age. Here’s why you should.

Bones have a breaking point. Bones are tough, but they are not rigid—they’re porous. The fact that they actually bow enough to absorb shock when we jump and lift and twist is a miracle. Bones are really hard working. They protect your organs and tissues. They store minerals. They have an outside layer called the periosteum, and inside, they have bone marrow which produces red and white blood cells. They also create levers that our muscles work around so that we can move.

Bone density has its highs and lows. Bones grow with us, and they grow through stress! Not the deadlines and income taxes type of stress, the putting down the potato chips and getting off of the sofa to go play tennis kind of stress. A lifestyle of inactivity can actually contribute to bone loss. You can build bone density up until around age 30. Sadly, after that, you are already past the point of peak bone mass.

Bone density can be supported. While it’s nearly impossible to naturally build significant bone density after the first two decades of life, you can work to maintain your existing bone density. Here are three ways that you can care for your frame.

  1. Nutrition. Eating vegetables, protein, and getting enough vitamin D is good for your muscles… and your bones.
  2. Exercise. Specifically, weight bearing exercise. But you don’t need much. The weight of your own body during a brisk walk for 30 minutes each day is generally enough.
  3. Yoga. Yoga can increase our stability, which minimizes the chances of falls and bone breakage. It also increases proprioception (our internal awareness of where our body is at spacially) which can also lead to fewer falls. And studies* have shown that even beginning yoga at an advanced age can help maintain bone density in the spine.

* For further reading, check out this article from Harvard University.

What is a Dosha?

In the world of Ayurveda, a person’s dosha encompasses their personal constitution– mentally and physically. Each dosha is directly related to a person’s preferences and aversions, their personality, the seasons, the elements, and more.

There are 3 doshas: kapha, pitta, and vata. One of the 3 doshas will be dominant in your life– even if only slightly. Our goal is to keep them in balance, and when they are out of balance we can usually tell. For instance, a balanced pitta is loyal, nurturing, and forgiving. But an unbridled pitta can lead a person to feel less secure, controlling, or insensitive.

Knowing your dosha is just one of the many ways that you can nurture self-compassion. Through crosswork yoga, you can equip yourself to become more mindful of where your dosha is and how to navigate back toward sattva, or balance.

You Are What You Think

Why have my workouts plateaued?
If the surgery was a success, then why am I still in pain?
I moved on, so why does thinking about my former job still upset me?

Have you ever wondered how individual components of your life fit together?

Professionally, intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually YOU are a complex being made up of trillions of specialized cells that work together to perform intricate and sophisticated processes– all day, every day. Even while you sleep!

When our systems are not balanced, cells are affected — in supply, in form, or in function. Dispropriation at the cellular level can set off a physiological chain reaction affecting our tissues, which can upset our organs, which can disturb our body’s systems until eventually we can even experience dysfunction or disease.

But when our systems are in a state of balance, our brains are better able to build neuroplasticity– growing and adapting appropriately to the stimuli around us. We feel energized to do the things we love and expect that we are able to do those things. We are hopeful and feel confident that we have the tools to prosper.

No longer threatened, we no longer react. Instead, we can aptly respond to everything that comes our way. In full belief that all things are working together for our good, we are released from haywire defense mechanisms.

Crosswork is a conscious, intentional shift in the ordering of our thoughts and habits. Simply put, crosswork is a lifestyle of mindfulness.