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ProjectME Podcast: Managing Intense Stress

ProjectME Podcast: Managing Intense Stress 2456 1694 Gayl Walder Yoga

Tune into my latest interview with multi-millionaire female entrepreneur host, Tiffany Carter, for my episode on how to manage intense stress. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the episode in the comments section below!

Also, be sure to subscribe to listen in on other future episodes as she shares success, marketing, business, and wealth-building, tips, strategies, and stories in her unique educationally edgy style. Tiffany keeps it real and takes the mystery out of making BIG money. This former NBC and CBS TV journalist interviews incredible people, with amazing stories and action-worthy advice.


Love Never Ends

Love Never Ends 1920 1440 Gayl Walder Yoga

I met Pete several years ago in my yoga class I taught at Equinox. He was warm, friendly, and inspired by everything around him. No one would have been able to tell that he had been through unimaginable tragedy. Pete’s daughter Alexa was intelligent, funny and creative – and, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor at three years old.

Alexa underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and clinical trials. However, Alexa was still able to live the life that so many other children enjoy: she went to dance class, gymnastics, sleepover camp, and had amazing friends. Alexa passed away shortly before her tenth birthday, exactly one year after she created an original artwork that reads, “Love Never Ends.”

To honor Alexa’s life, I want to share her incredible and inspiring message with as many people as possible by designing a very special journal embossed with Alexa’s message. I have been humbled and moved by Alexa’s father, and his ability to emotionally triumph in the face of something that most of us cannot even imagine. A percentage of the Love Never Ends journals will be donated to her special fund which directly supports the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.

From now until the end of April, I will be donating a percentage of every journal on my website to her cause! Journaling is a big part of my life, and I hope you will make it a big part of yours especially because these journals remind us all that love is eternal, and that love will always connect us to those who we have lost.

All journals come in a gift box with a pen. There are very limited quantities of each! Thank you… ? #LoveNeverEnds

ANNIVERSARY DATES: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Affect Us.

ANNIVERSARY DATES: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Affect Us. 1500 1000 Gayl Walder Yoga

Have you ever noticed a change in how you are feeling? Specifically, in your mood, your emotions, or your energy level? Have you ever realized that this shift in your personality happens at the same time each year? If this is the first year that you have noticed something different about you – if your sleeping patterns have changed, if you are having dreams or flashbacks, if you are feeling sad, or if you don’t fee like your usual self, make a note of the date that the feelings began. In the years to follow, you may realize there is a pattern, and that, no! Nothing is wrong with you!

For as long as I can remember, I have experienced these shifts at different times in my life. I began to connect the dots, and read and research what I was feeling. This is when I learned what anniversary dates were.

Recently, anniversary dates have come to be known by other names: the anniversary reaction or the anniversary effect which occurs when unique sets of unsettling memories, thoughts, or feelings occur on the anniversary date of a traumatic event or significant experience. A natural disaster, the date of a miscarriage, an accident, a major surgery, the birthday of someone who is no longer alive, or the date a loved one who has passed away are some examples of traumatic experiences that many of us have gone through.

On April 23, 2008, I went into the hospital for a major surgery. A week before the surgery, I attempted to write a letter to my four children, and became overcome with such emotion that I was not able to complete this task. Not knowing what to do, or how to deal with my emotions, I hired professional cinematographers and had them videotape a yoga practice. This practice was like my lifeline. I had no idea what I was doing, or why I was doing it, but it was like a moving meditation that struck me at my very core. I did not know what my body would be like after my surgery, or if my body would move differently afterward. I was terrified. It was like an artist painting for maybe the last time, or a musician playing the guitar for possibly the last time, an athlete playing in their possible last game.

I am grateful that today, I am okay. During that 12-hour surgery, something intangible happened. Even though I’m not quite sure what exactly happened, I woke up very weak, but with a sense of strength that I had never felt before. I have always been a very private person – sometimes to a fault. Through my journaling, I have recently learned that I was taught to keep things to myself, and never to share private things with others. I agree to a certain extent that there are certain things I don’t need to shout from a mountain top, but I also believe certain things need to be shared, as it helps our own healing process and may also benefit others who are going through something similar. I know that, by sharing my experience, I can help others to not feel so alone.

What I have noticed is that, every year around the first week of April, there is a shift inside of me on all levels. Some notice. Most don’t. But I always do. I have no regrets that I had a double mastectomy, a full hysterectomy, and reconstruction all at once. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and carried the BRCA 2 mutation, and after genetic testing, I found out that I carried the mutation as well. Yes, I had my surgery before Angelina Jolie, and 10 years ago, it was still new, and many people still do not really know a lot about it. Still, I have no regrets, and I feel healthy. However, I often find myself asking, “Why does my mind trigger these flashbacks, and change of moods?” The reason is that my surgery was still an incredibly traumatic experience. I went under anesthesia, and I had to surrender, and just give in to whatever would lie ahead. It was painful, it was life changing, and there was a sense of loss; yet, I’ve never had time to grieve this loss. Why? Because I was too worried about everyone else, especially my kids, and getting our life back to normal, so I just kept going, and doing what I could. Maybe I was not ready to emotionally deal with what I needed to deal with. Maybe I will never fully understand what happened. What I choose to do each year is to acknowledge my feelings, journal my thoughts, and share a little with others. I post the 5-minute YouTube video I made before my surgery, and I watch it once a year. When I watch it, I see the fear on my face that I am feeling. I see how open my shoulders once were as well as my thoracic spine, but I also see that I am much more connected to my body and soul 10 years later. I have much more awareness of my alignment, as well as my breath. I will never forget April 23, 2008. I will never forget all the wonderful people who supported me, who were there for me, who lifted me up when I was down, who sent meals to our family, and who listened to me cry when I was in pain. There are too many names to mention, but you know who are, and you will always be embedded deep in my heart.

Thank you! For the tenth anniversary of my surgery, I am posting the video below. If you’ve gone through anything similar, I hope it makes you feel less alone, and helps you understand that you are stronger than anything that stands in your way.

Everyone Has a Story: Here’s a Chapter from Mine

Everyone Has a Story: Here’s a Chapter from Mine 1500 1000 Gayl Walder Yoga

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to write. When I was younger, I diligently kept journals, but back then, they were called diaries. Sometimes, I knew what I wanted to write about, and other times I felt stuck in my life and my emotions. But, once I put my pen to the paper, my ideas came pouring out of me. Writing about my day grounded me in my experience. Writing about my emotions gave me clarity and serenity.

However, as I grew into an adult and became a wife and mother, my life got busier and busier. My days were not only filled with my own activities and responsibilities, but with my children’s as well. By the time I was able to sit down and unwind, I was too tired to write. My sense of self began to decay; I tucked my emotions away and left them buried deep inside of myself.

I have moved fourteen times in the last twenty-five years. Three of those moves have been in the last three years. I always joke and say, “I am a professional mover,” and although I have become quite efficient in regards to packing and organizing, through my journaling practice, I have also realized the effect that all of these moves have had on my body, mind, and spirit. To sum it up, it was almost impossible to stay grounded when I was always in a state of transition. Ever since this last move, I simply could not ignore my need to write. In the middle of a huge transition for my family and myself, I made it a priority to journal for at least five minutes – every single day. Now, writing has once again become an irrevocable part of my life. It has become a grounding force in the face of so much change. It’s allowed me to connect to a part of myself that’s often shrouded from other people.

Sometimes, when I speak out loud – no matter what I have to say – I often feel like I’m not heard. I have always been soft-spoken, and I’m still working on learning how to project my voice. When I write in my journal, not only do I feel heard – I feel validated. We are often our worst critics, and journaling has opened up a new chapter in my life: one on self-love. I have met many women in the last few years who feel similarly. The truth is, women are experts on playing so many roles and wearing so many hats that we lose our true selves in the midst of all of the various identities we are expected to acquire. People start depending on us and expecting us to perform excellently in a multitude of ways. Whether it is a job, a spouse, a significant other, children, parents, or even a pet, we subvert our own needs for the needs of someone else. We think about ourselves last, or, sometimes, we don’t even think about ourselves at all! As women, we lead by example, so when we forget about ourselves, other people in our lives tend to follow suit. Then, the inevitable happens: one day, we wake up and we feel stuck or unimportant.

When was the last time you truly connected to yourself?

This is why you must keep a journal. Journaling can help us access the parts of ourselves that we’ve hidden away under our responsibilities, the expectations others put on us, and our never-ending to-do lists. What I’ve found that’s helped me the most in my journaling practice is the process of keeping different journals for different things, and one exercise I recommend to everyone – male or female – is to write down one positive aspect of yourself every single day. One day it maybe a single word, one day it may be a sentence or even a paragraph. You never know what you will discover! You may even end up writing a book.

When I journal, it is a release. It helps me to sort out my feelings and emotions. There is something about writing everything down – it’s a process of owning what you have to say and getting it off of your chest. I’m a private person, and although I do yoga, meditate, hike, walk, and eat healthfully, I’ve discovered that I still hold so much inside. I’m a great communicator, and I am good at helping others to express themselves, but I’ve learned how to bury a lot of my emotions so deeply inside of myself that oftentimes, I’m not even aware that I’m doing this! Some recent health issues (which I will share in more detail at a later time) forced me to slow down. I could not perform my usual activities, and my pen and journal became my release. Many thoughts and emotions, as well as memories, resurfaced. For the first time in my life, I could not exercise. Writing was the only way I could move.

Sometimes, it’s scary to slow down and just be with ourselves. Inevitably, we work harder, we work out harder, we cook more, clean more, do more, plan more, and before we know it, we are moving at the speed of light, never stopping for what we truly crave. Suddenly, we feel depleted, tired, overloaded, and as if we can’t get anything done. I know this process firsthand.

Journaling will allow you to find your inner light.

When I started journaling, I was able to find my light again. This time, the light shined from my deepest core to the outer layers of my being. What I mean by this is that journaling comes from the soul. It allows you to be raw, real, and to own what you are feeling. What I have discovered through my journaling is that I am loud, strong and powerful. I hope to transfer some of that into my voice, so when I speak, I am not only heard, but people want to hear more of what I have to say. Who knows? Maybe, through my writing, I can become a voice for others who are in the place I was in. And, if I can help others find their brilliance, beauty, power, and their voice, they can pay it forward, and inspire others to do the same. I believe that each and every one of us has the power to create a spiritual domino effect.

However, big changes all start with one thing: taking the time to journal every single day. I know that carving out a few precious moments for yourself will allow you to connect to your deepest wants and desires. Undoubtedly, journaling will help you develop your voice, and connect to your inner power on a daily basis.

I have recently designed some journals. The words and colors all came to me in a meditation, and I hope that they inspire you. Please stay tuned, as a very special journal will be honoring an amazing person. I’ll give you a clue: love never ends!

The Eight Fold Path

The Eight Fold Path 1500 1000 Gayl Walder Yoga

When I began my Yoga journey-over 20 years ago, I remember first hearing the words, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” I never forgot those words, and I never understood how my mind would calm down and stop thinking, but miraculously, it did.

What begins as a physical practice for many eventually evolves into something so much more. It begins slowly – little things that once bothered us don’t seem to be such a big a deal. How we react in different situations begins to change, how we think, how we act, how we love, and how we live are all affected. I believe it is important to understand that there are eight limbs of yoga, and out of those eight limbs, Asana – the third limb – is the only physical limb. One of the most important lessons we can learn are the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Yoga is the union of the body, mind and spirit. The physical and emotional. Yoga teaches us equanimity. How to stay calm in the middle of chaos. The Eight Limbs of Yoga are the inner workings of the mind along our journey to find inner peace. I think that when these are broken down, it helps to give an understanding of what each individual goes through at different times in their lives. Since each individual is unique, these experiences are different for everyone.

The Yamas and the Niyamas are the first and second limbs of the Eight Fold Path. The Eight Fold Path is the Buddha’s code of ethics (or written guide) which will help you on your journey in life.

Social Discipline or observances is the foundation of how we treat others. In simple terms, these are the things not to do. The NIYAMAS: Individual Discipline or observances is the foundation of how we treat ourselves. Simply put, these are things we should do.

I truly believe that I live a yogic lifestyle, and have been guided by these principles in one way or another. I follow the Golden Rule, and always try to see the good everyone and treat others as I would like to be treated. I also try very hard to take care of myself.

The poses, the breath, the emotions, and the challenges we face on our yoga mats are stepping stones for when we step off our mats into the real world. How do you treat yourself? How do you treat others? How do you handle stress, change, or things that don’t go as planned? How do you stay calm when you feel like your world is falling apart? How do you get “unstuck?”

The information below is what I feel is so important to understand. Your Yoga practice will evolve, and you will feel happier and more at peace within yourself, which in turn will rub off on others.

Definition of Yoga

In Sutra 2 of the first chapter, Patanjali has defined Yoga as

योगश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः॥२॥ “yogascitta vritti nirodhah” (Sanskrit)

“Yoga is the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff”

– translation by Swami Vivekananda

In subsequent Sutras, Patanjali explains that once the mind is properly restrained, then the “seer” or the “soul, the true self” can rest in its own true nature. Further, as long as the mind is not under control, it continues to assume the form of the “vrittis,” or the perturbations in the mind and these vrittis become the cause of human suffering. In simpler terms, what this definition tells us is that we can be peaceful and happy when we can control the mind; or else, the mind continues to control us, and we stay in a state of suffering.

Ashtanga Yoga (Eight limbs of Yoga):

The Eight Limbs of Yoga as defined in the second chapter are as follows:

Yamas (self restraints): The Yamas are guidelines for how to interact with the outside world at a social level. The five Yamas are Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (abstinence), Aparigraha (non-hoarding).

Niyamas (observances): The Niyamas represent guidelines for self-discipline. The five Niyamas are Shoucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Swadhyaya (study of the scriptures and self-study), and Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender to God). Together, Yamas and Niyamas provide an ethical and moral code to be followed so the aspiring yogi can establish an adequate moral foundation for his/her spiritual journey.

Asana (posture): Asana refers to the seated posture which should be steady and comfortable so the yogi can sit and meditate for long periods of time.

Pranayama (breath control): Pranayama, which literally means stretching or expansion of prana, the vital life force, involves breath control and helps train and prepare the mind for dharana (concentration).

Pratyahara (sense withdrawal): Through pratyahara one gains the ability to withdraw the senses from their objects thus achieving perfect control over the senses.

Dharana (concentration/focus): Dharana involves focusing the mind on a single object of concentration for long periods of time.

Dhyana (meditation): When there is an uninterrupted flow of the mind toward the object of focus, the yogi enters the state of meditation.

Samadhi (total absorption): Finally, when even the self-awareness of the mind disappears and only the object of meditation shines through, this is called the state of Samadhi. It is only in the highest stage of “Samadhi,” called the “Nirbeeja Samadhi” (seedless Samadhi) when the mind is fully under control and brings the yogi to a state of perpetual peace and tranquility.

The main focus of Patanjali is controlling the mind and subduing the fluctuations of the mind, called ‘chitta vrittis.” Once the mind is calm and peaceful, one gets established in his own true nature: Yoga Sutra Study.