Tag Archives: mother nature

A Different Kind of Cleanse

jan22_2017

Point to Ponder:
What is there from 2016 that you do not need to bring into the New Year?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Whether you are iGniting in Austin or in San Diego, both cities have experienced severe and very scary droughts as well as incredible recent rainfalls. For Austin, a fierce drought that started in 2011 ended in May, 2015, and in San Diego, off and on the city has been bone dry, but especially since 2014. When my family moved to San Diego in August 2015, I vividly remember driving to our neighborhood that sits in a valley of rolling hills and canyons and being confused. What I thought was going to be lush, green fields of Birds of Paradise, was instead brown, hot, dry and dusty terrain. What I didn’t realize was that San Diego was in a drought, which is what makes the current rain so extraordinary. Amazingly, the drought has been lifted!

For sure, too much of anything is too much: too much rain can be depressing and too much sun can also have a similar effect, but there’s one thing that’s certain, and it’s that the weather is wonderfully unpredictable, which leads me to the opportunities that the recent rainfall and somewhat crazy weather has given each of us (especially the extreme winter highs and lows in Austin).

For starters, weather always serves as a brilliant reminder that as much as we might like to be in control, we never are, and to quote Austin Meteorologist Troy Kimmel, he said, “I’m convinced that Mother Nature likes to remind us that we don’t know everything.” And thank goodness for that! As much as I often times wish I had a crystal ball so I can be adequately prepared for everything that comes my way, one of the sweetest parts of life is seeing how it reveals itself and the necessary lessons, opportunities and surprises that unfold. Like weather, the surprise can be a gorgeous sunny day or much needed overcast cloudy and rainy day to force us indoors to rest. Thanks to the rain in San Diego, excitingly we’ve been able to wear our rain boots and use our umbrellas- Whew!! Furthermore, thanks to the heavy rainfall on Friday, class was moved indoors and I was able to teach one of my personal favorites that I haven’t taught in San Diego yet– Cardio Kickboxing. It’s always good to mix it up!

Next, weather shows us that like in life, there are fruitful times of great harvest and times of substantial scarcity. It’s never always one way or the other, but instead, life is a constant ebb and flow of “Amazing, we did it, give me a high-five!”, to my toilet not working because Barbie was flushed down it. Yep, that recently happened in our house, because anything goes when you have a sassy and unpredictable three year old who out of the blue makes Barbie her archenemy.  As a dear friend recently coined, at times our lives can feel like a flat-out disaster, and then within minutes, things can shift and we can experience our best day ever. And so, what I feel like weather teaches us is to be flexible, open to change and to manage our expectations. This is not at all to suggest that we should have low expectations, but instead, we should expect highs and lows and rain and sunshine. Weather gives us the refreshing perspective that change can be good, change is inevitable and nothing is permanent. Some days will be fruitful while others not–and that’s the consistency of life.

Finally, rain presents two important roles: it’s cleansing and nurturing. Like a baptism, rain gives us an opportunity for renewal and growth and as a result of the recent rains that we have received, I feel like Mother Nature has given us the ideal opportunity to cleanse ourselves from anything that we cannot control and/or things that do not serve you. Some examples are: a relationship, unrealistic expectations you have placed on yourself, people’s opinions and actions, assumptions, unrealistic expectations that other people have placed on you, guilt, pride, resentment, negativity, control, trying to please others, taking things personally, social media, gossip, busyness, comparison, and anything obligatory that is left over from 2016 that you transferred to your 2017 list that doesn’t excite you. It’s all your choice, which is the best part!

I can only speak for myself, but I am amazed that we are only twenty-two days into 2017. Normally, time feels like it flies by, but for me, I love that it’s only Jan 22. Technically, it’s still the New Year, which means that I have plenty of time to set my 2017 intentions and goals, but for now, I’m going to create space for 2017 surprises by following Mother Nature’s lead and spend time determining what I need to let go of–the unproductive thoughts, behaviors and actions that need to be washed away with the rain and will allow my body, mind and spirit to be cleansed, nurtured and refreshed. I sure hope you will join me! (If you’re interested in a physical cleanse that will also benefit your mind and spirit, I encourage you to join us in our 10-day Self-Care Body Re-Boot, taking place in Austin from Feb 2 through Feb 13. Couples are welcome!!)


Action Item:
Make a list of the behaviors, thoughts and actions that do not serve you and work on letting them go.


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Letting Go

nov6_2016-2

Point to Ponder:
What changes in your life do you need to make and what do you need to let go of?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

A few weeks ago I took Malaine, our three year old daughter, to get a much needed hair cut. Her hair had grown to the middle of her back and from her oatmeal breakfast to her ongoing play date with playdough, her hair became a catch-all for everything (yuck!). Like many three year old girls, her sweet, funny and very loving nature can be overtaken by an extremely feisty, salty and disagreeable teenager. So, as I stood close by (mostly to make sure she obeyed the stylist), I witnessed a literal transformation in my little toot. While several inches were cut and her hair was very cute, most interesting was the change in her demeanor, posture and attitude. Morphing right in front of my eyes was an agreeable three year old with a big smile and an added skip in her step. While she couldn’t articulate what had occurred, I recognized what Mother Nature so beautifully models for us from season to season, which is how cleansing and essential change and letting things go is.

Like leaves on a tree, not only during the fall season do they drop to the ground and then bloom also from spring to summer and summer to fall, they are constantly changing form and color. And, if Mother Nature doesn’t stay the same, it leads me to believe that we too are created to regularly evolve and let go of the things that we cannot control, are weighing us down and therefore stunting our growth and ability to live in gratitude.

Next, and to go another mind-blowing step further, according to National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski, “Fallen leaves offer a double benefit. Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down.” The way I see it is that is if it weren’t for the change in season and the trees letting go of its leaves, the weeds would overtake the ground, therefore stripping it of it’s potential growth, beauty and the perfect cycle would end.

With Mother Nature being our greatest teacher and so eloquently demonstrating the absolute need for change and letting go, my question to you is what changes in your life do you need to make and what do you need to let go of?  Furthermore, what changes can you make and what can you let go of that will allow you to experience greater satisfaction and more gratitude?

For change, it doesn’t have to be anything dramatic, as a little change goes a long way. Like Malaine, maybe it’s a hair cut, a color or new style, rearranging your living room or painting your walls a new color. Or, maybe it’s something more bold that requires a giant leap of faith and extraordinary courage, like changing jobs, careers or moving.

As for letting go, I believe it is the key that unlocks our greatest potential, beauty and life. Just imagine how liberated we would be if only we let go of “our plan,” the extremely high expectations we have placed on ourselves or feel that others have placed on us; what if we were able to let go of the “should have’s” from our past that paralyze us, the self-judgement that keeps us from focusing on our immensely blessed life or let go of judging others all together. What if we let go of the need to please, the desire be someone we aren’t or the need to be approved of. What if we let go of the ridiculous assumptions that take up prime real estate in our mind and keep us spinning. Finally, what if we let go of worrying, let go of relationships that no longer serve our souls and let go of the need to control what is not ours to control. Instead, what if we allowed God to do for us what nature allows Him to do and He so perfectly does for nature? It’s the ability to recognize that we don’t have all of the answers and we can’t fix everything. It’s the simple act of gratitude–saying “thank you,” not blocking the blessing and letting go and letting God do what only He can do in your life.


Action Item:
Create a list of things that you need to let go of.


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Health Is Your Greatest Wealth

oct23_2016

Point to Ponder:
Do you celebrate your health?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Whether it be suffering from the common cold, ailing from the dreaded flu, or experiencing something much more serious like cancer, addiction or a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, when our health is compromised the universal thought is how we’d give anything to be free of pain, feel good and be healthy again.

Despite being coined over 2000 years ago by the Roman poet, Virgil, his quote that “health is our greatest wealth” continues to ring true. Without our physical, mental and spiritual health, the fullness that life offers us is limited. This is not at all to suggest that we cannot experience great joy and happiness when ill, but I am confident that everyone would agree that our health is a delicate and precious gift that should not be take for granted and needs to be celebrated each day.

Due to October being iGnite’s 10th birthday month, for the past six weeks we have put a great emphasis on celebrating the people and things that iGnite our lives, such as the friends and family who encourage and lift us higher, those who love us radically, saying “yes” to ourselves and our passions, and Mother Nature.

To finalize our celebration series, this week I encourage you to commemorate your health! Maybe that’s by waking up every morning and giving thanks for your health. Or, in the event you aren’t feeling well, giving thanks for the health that you are experiencing is always a spirit lifter that will positively effect the body and mind. Also, because iGnite’s focus is on holistic health, I invite you to celebrate your physical, mental and spiritual health in the following ways:

  1. Celebrate your Physical Health– Nourish your body with water, sunshine, fresh air, movement/exercise (iGnite!), adequate rest/sleep and clean food–but don’t forget to enjoy an occasional and indulgent splurge, too. Life is not a celebration when living in deprivation.
  2. Celebrate your Mental Health– Nourish your mind by filling it with wholesome, educational and/or empowering and inspiring books. Turn off your devices, sit in silence, and pray and/or meditate, step outside of your comfort zone by doing something that you have told yourself you can’t do, create a list of all that you are grateful for.
  3. Celebrate Your Spiritual Health– Nourish your spirit by accepting compliments with a “thank you”, speak kindly to yourself and others, accept the truth that God created you as His masterpiece and you are breathtakingly beautiful, listen to uplifting music, sing and dance, have lunch with a friend, write a thank you note, light a candle and take a bubble bath, encourage and/or help someone, invite a female friend to iGnite with you, offer a smile and “hello” to a stranger.

Your health is your greatest wealth and is worthy of continual celebration. So, however you choose make it your duty to give thanks for all the health that you experience.


Action Item:
Celebrate your physical, mental and spiritual health.


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Celebrate the Magic of Nature

oct-16

Point to Ponder:
How often do you spend time alone outdoors and in nature?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Despite being raised in a rural community in Texas and surrounded by fields of grass, corn, cotton, wheat and maize, it wasn’t until I attended the University of Texas that I realized my love and deep need for nature. As almost anyone who lives or has lived in Austin experiences, at some point or another, Town Lake (a.k.a. Lade Bird Lake) becomes the treasured best friend who hears our prayers, absorbs our tears, and celebrates our accomplishments. While on my runs, she was always part of the cleansing, healing and restorative process that my body, mind and spirit needed. Not only did my time with her boost my confidence, but spending time in and around always enhanced the clarity of my thoughts and vision. In fact, I never left her without a problem solved and/or solution in hand. And, while I knew how much I loved and needed her, it was until I moved to New York City and didn’t have her at my fingertips that I longed for her.

As the quote in the pictures says, Mother Nature has the power to please, calm, comfort and nurture, and in my opinion, she has infinite healing powers too. I believe we have an intrinsic need for her in our daily lives, which is why when I founded iGnite ten years ago, one of our core principles was outdoor group fitness. Over time, and as a result of wanting to grow with our members and provide optimal class experiences, our outdoor-only model shifted to offering indoor classes as well. This is not to say that we didn’t try offering every possible class outdoors, because we did. This included year round outdoor yoga, Pilates and even dance. For example, through trial and error, we quickly found out that yoga at 6:00 a.m. and in 35 degree temperatures was counterproductive. I should’ve known that the body would have a difficult time loosening up while shivering, and despite wearing layers of clothes, gloves and shoes, not being able to feel your fingers or toes makes balancing and downward dog extremely difficult. Thinking back, it seems completely absurd that I ever thought that yoga under such conditions would work, but we were committed to all that Mother Nature had to offer us. And, while offering year round yoga and some of the other classes in nature isn’t ideal (at least in Austin), Mother Nature never disappointed. She was and is consistently consistent with showing off her magic!

As we continue to celebrate iGnite’s tenth birthday, this week I invite you to celebrate the magic of nature and enjoy her life-giving gifts by spending a minimum of five minutes outdoors everyday, alone, and without any device or technology. Just like taking a screaming baby outside immediately soothes he or she, we are no different. Our time in nature is equivalent to pushing the reset button for our mind and spirit, and whether your time is experiencing a sunrise, sunset, the fall foliage, walking barefoot in grass, sitting near a body of water, hiking in the mountains, listening to the birds or going for a walk or jog, it is all grounding and the perfect solution to a busy mind and unsettled spirit. All in all, it’s a very cheap and simple solution that we all need to include in our daily routines.

Finally, in the event you need more evidence why time in nature is essential, check out scientific proven benefits from an article in Business Insider. I don’t know about you, but I could use some serious short-term memory help!!!

  • Improved short-term memory
  • Restored mental energy
  • Stress relief
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better vision
  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper thinking and creativity
  • Possible anti-cancer effects
  • Immune system boost
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced risk of early death

Action Item:
Each day this week, spend at least five minutes in nature alone and without technology.


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Subtle Lessons From the Great Outdoors

week16

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers – for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.
— Osho

Action Item:
Take the time to be more aware and drink in your surroundings. Slow down, breathe with nature, and start to see yourself as a part of the greater whole. Learn from the trees, and move forward with a sense of peace, serenity, and simple contentment.

By April Black

By April Black

We can learn a lot from Mother Nature, if we open ourselves up to the opportunity. Too often we go through our days, focused on getting from point A to point B and how much we can accomplish in a particular period of time. I know I have done this more than I’d like to admit, even passing by something multiple times without noticing it was ever there. Our surroundings become a blur, an insignificant backdrop to what we are convinced is “really” important. We are hamsters on a wheel, chasing some unattainable endpoint and missing out on all of the lush and natural beauty around us in the process.

Lately I have made a conscious effort to be more aware of nature, and take the time to really notice the environment around me. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen so many trees in my life! Who knew there were so many different kinds, shapes, and sizes? I certainly was not previously this present to the trees. Yes, I’ve always loved nice weather, appreciated pretty flowers, and gazed at a lovely sunset, but have been cheating myself out of this amazing opportunity to deeply connect and admire the natural beauty built into every single day. If you could use some ideas and inspiration in this area of your life, glance at our short and sweet Weekly Intention Guide designed to do so.

We are incredibly blessed to live here in Austin because there is so much to appreciate about the outdoors. Yes, we iGnite

We are "incredibly blessed to live here in Austin because there is so much to appreciate about the outdoors." -April Black, ignite leader

We are “incredibly blessed to live here in Austin because there is so much to appreciate about the outdoors.” -April Black, ignite leader

outdoors, but are you really paying attention to the beauty around you? Look up at the sky as you’re stretching at the end of class. Watch the trees sway as you find your balance in yoga. Smile at the happy squirrel that prances by at Pease Park, and at the crazy dog that runs halfway up the tree to try and catch him. Take a deep breath with the breeze. Slow down and actually notice your surroundings. Drink them in. Let them fuel you. If you plow through your days with blinders on, you are missing out on the beauty of the journey along the way.

On Wednesday, I taught Amy Younkman’s yoga class at Rollingwood. If you’d like to try one, here is our updated weekly schedule where you can participate in a free week trial. While I waited for everyone to arrive, I sat down in the grass, in the sunlight, and watched the trees for a few minutes. Solid and strong, each tree stood perfectly content with itself. Every tree was different, yet it was not comparing itself to the other trees or thinking it needed to shrink down, get greener leaves, grow taller, or look a certain way. No tree was “better” than another, and each one was completely comfortable with its “imperfections” – perhaps dried brown leaves, spots, or broken branches – knowing that these didn’t make them any less of a tree. As the wind blew, the trees adapted – each moving as one unit, swaying in the breeze fluidly, seamlessly, and gracefully. The trees can’t control the wind, but they know how to remain flexible and adaptable to the other parts of nature out of their control.

We can learn a lot from the trees, and try to adopt this sense of calm, peace, and contentment they unassumingly possess. Beyond trees, there are birds, flowers, clouds, sunlight, sunrises, sunsets, stars, the moon, grass, wildlife, water, and infinite other natural wonders out there. All you have to do is just open your eyes. Take the lessons readily available from Mother Nature and let your surroundings become an integral part of your days. And next time you see geese flying overhead, consider the tremendous life lesson shown in this weeks video, which I know you will enjoy.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION & Tell us your favorite way to enjoy our incredible Mother Nature. 

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