Mindful Mondays

Mindful Mondays are brought to you by Joie Schmitz of YOGA\VIVRE. These quick one minute exercises are sure to help you start your week off on a positive note! Check back here each week for a new Monday message!

Feeling up to digging a bit deeper into mindfulness? Don't miss our guided Mindfulness Sessions!


Downward Facing Dog is a popular and widely-practiced yoga pose.  It has a long list of benefits, including: soothing headaches, easing anxiety and mild depression, clearing the sinuses, and energizing the mind and body.  Plus, in this pose, you’ll gain new perspective from an upside-down vantage point!  It’s the perfect way to mentally reset in the middle of the day.

Start on the ground, on all fours.  Knees should be directly under your hips and hands should be shoulder width apart, but slightly in front of the shoulders.  Spread your fingers widely and press through the pad and base of each finger to anchor your hands.  Curl your toes under.  Keeping your knees bent, slowly start to lift the knees off of the floor and press your floating hips back over your heels.  Gradually begin to straighten the legs any amount that is comfortable for you, but hyper-extend or lock-out your knees.  You should end up in a shape that resembles an upside-down letter “V.”

Breathe calmly through your nose.  Continue to hold the pose and refine your alignment for 10 breaths, but be sure to come back down to hands and knees if you feel any pain or discomfort.  

From your inverted letter “V” shape, scan your body with your mind and notice anywhere you feel sensation - that can be a stretch, or a release, or heightened awareness.  Engage every muscle in your body, so that you fully support yourself with your own strength.  You may notice this helps you feel lighter in the pose.  With your muscles squeezing, start to reach your hips up and back even more, then balance that by hugging in your low belly.  Take the tops of your thighs back and heels more toward the floor, without locking out your knees - a small bend in the knees will really help here!  Let your ears line-up with your upper arms, so your neck is long and relaxed.  For your final few breaths, keep everything you’ve created in the pose to this point, and actively press your hands and feet back down into the floor.  

When you come out of the pose, rest in a comfortable seated position for a few breaths.

Put a smile on your face and keep it there for one whole minute today!  If your mind wanders and causes your cheerful expression to shift, start over.  
Try this when you are alone and can focus all of your attention on your face.  Try it again when you are around other people and your attention is fragmented.  After each smile session, notice how you feel, and how the people around you may have been impacted by this tiny task.  

Daily obligations to your family, kids, job, etc. can often get priority over simple self-care practices.  But, in order to effectively balance and execute all of your responsibilities to others, you have to fuel yourself!  Take one minute (or more!) today to do something on your own that makes you feel great — take a bath, read a book, journal, go for a walk.  It can be anything, as long as it gives you time to just be with yourself and focus on you.  
(Note: The best part of this exercise is when you go back to your daily duties and realize that because you nourished yourself, you have more to give!)


Music enhances our lives: The type of song, the notes, the rhythm and the lyrics can cheer us up when we are down, or soothe us when we are stressed.  For thousands of years, music has been played at important ceremonies and celebrations, across cultures.  Our children learn letters and language through song.  We listen to music in the car; it is played overhead in nearly every store; it plays a major role in movies; music even weaves itself into the stands at sporting events.
Music can be a great tool for meditation too.  By focusing your mind on sound, disruptive thoughts fade into the background.  Today, select a piece of Classical music - on the radio, through YouTube, or from your own music collection.  Sit or lie down with your eyes closed and body relaxed.  Zone IN to the music.  Listen to each note, the fluctuations in the song.  Absorb the sound into your body and let the tones and vibrations seep deep into your consciousness.  
When the song ends, take your time opening your eyes and noticing how you feel.  

Take one minute today and meditate on what the word “trust” feels like.  Instead of rolling the idea of trust around in your head, get in touch with the feelings that trust elicits within you.  The sensations may be very subtle; detecting them can require patience and skillful attention.  Let your feelings arise freely; try not to suppress them or change them in any way.  How does trust manifest in your physical body?  Does this exercise alter the rhythm of your breath or the feeling in your belly?  How do feelings of trust, within you, impact your stream of consciousness?  What do you notice about yourself after sitting peacefully with trust for one minute?  There are no right or wrong feelings, and there is no end goal for this activity.  Trust that whatever comes up is an offering for you to explore.

Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious.”  
Curiosity keeps the world moving forward.  In grand scale, it can set off a chain of exploration, discovery, and invention.  On a personal level, it can lead you down a different path where untapped potential lies in wait for you.  Knowledge, talents, adventures - knowing your truest self - are all yours if you are curious enough to seek them and brave enough to venture into uncharted waters.  
Today, let curiosity lead you in a 1-minute meditation.  What are you curious about in this life, in this world?  What is unknown to you?  Sit and contemplate this question - maybe even write down some of the thoughts that come up.  An inquisitive mind is fertile ground for planting a seed of something new and life-changing.  

Find a flat surface where you can comfortably lie down on your back.  Completely relax your entire body and tune in to your breath.  Notice how your can feel the breath in your body when you focus your mind on it.
Start to mentally direct your breath: Imagine you can breathe in through the sole of your right foot.  Keep drawing that breath up the right leg and up the right side of your torso, all the way to the crown of your head.  Let the exhale move from the crown of your head, down the left side of your body, through your left leg and out of the sole of your left foot.  Now, go back the other direction - from left to right.  That’s one cycle.  Continue breathing this way for 2 more cycles.
Next, think of breathing through the palm of your right hand.  Pull the breath up the right arm and directly into your heart.  Exhale from your heart, down the left arm and out of the left palm.  Then, go back the other way - from left to right.  Do a total of three cycles through the arms.
Finally, zipper your legs together and reach your arms overhead.  Stretch your body from your fingers to your toes.  Breathe in through your feet and let the breath rise up through the legs, hips, belly, chest, shoulders, neck, head, arms, and hands.  From the hands, slowly begin to exhale and envision the breath washing down the body, all the way to your feet.  Repeat this two more times.  
Mentally moving your breath around your body helps to open up the flow of energy as well.  You may feel calmer, more balanced, and have more mental clarity when you sit up.  

Western culture tends to value people who take action, operate self-sufficiently, and produce results.  But, there are times when we all need help to complete a task or overcome an obstacle.  Sometimes, asking for the help that we need can leave us feeling weak or inadequate.  But, really, it requires courage and confidence to acknowledge what we are lacking and allow others to help us fill in the holes.  
If you have a presentation at work that would benefit from the expertise of your peers, ask them for help!
If you’re a stay-at-home parent whose free time is always filled with chores, ask your family for help!
If you need some motivation to jump-start that project you’ve been thinking about for a while now, ask a mentor for help!
Your turn: If _________ would be better with some support, I can ask ________ for help.
The end result of whatever you are working toward will look and feel fuller, richer and more complete if you combine your courage and confidence with the strength and support of others.  Just ask!

Technology has changed the way we live, learn, work, socialize, organize, see the world and connect with others.  It has, in some ways, brought people closer together.
Today, try using technology to reach out to someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while.  Send a simple text, email, or message to bridge the distance (of space or time) between the two of you.  Pairing technology with mindfulness can change your day in a meaningful way!

In honor of Independence Day, this week’s exercise is an open meditation on FREEDOM.  
Take a comfortable seat, or lay flat on your back.  Relax.  Breathe slowly and deeply as you bring your mind’s attention to the freedoms you enjoy in your own life.  There are not right or wrong thoughts - let them flow!  Just try not to attach labels to them or create storylines around them.  Keep it simple and streamlined.  For example: 

“I experience freedom when I look up at the sky.”
“I feel freedom when I walk outside.”
“I express freedom when I choose how I want to spend my free time.”
“I embody freedom when I open my heart up to a friend.”  

Where does freedom show up in your life?