Staying focused when overwhelmed

My list of goals and things to do keeps growing and I want so badly to hit the ground running and tackle what I keep procrastinating. I find myself feeling so overwhelmed by what needs to be done that I end up lying down and doing nothing and feeling stressed about it. This happened recently and after a day and a half of laying around I realized I needed to simplify how I was looking at what work needed to be completed.

If you have that same feeling of being overwhelmed by all of the things that you need and want to do in one day pick 1-2 small things on your list that you know you can complete today and let those be your only focus. You don’t need to finish everything on your list at once. We can be so distracted by the desire to multitask and complete many things at once that we end up with limited to no focus. By staying on task with 1 or 2 small things you will find a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to tackle more tomorrow.

In yoga there is the term drishti which translates to gaze. The gaze of your eyes is an important part of learning to stay focused. Drishti is also extremely helpful when practicing balancing asanas (yoga postures). It begins to bring us to a place where we are able to have ekagraha, one pointed focus. When our eyes begin to wander so does our mind. If our list of things to do is so long that our mind keeps wandering it is hard to stay focused and get anything done. So begin to simplify and move away from multitasking to a one-pointed-focus.

If your one pointed focus is to complete a presentation, writing a document, or resting in bed, let that be all of your focus. So rather than laying down and feeling stressed about letting yourself rest, tell yourself that is what the focus is for the moment. Being in stillness can be extremely powerful in rejuvenating and preparing the body and mind. Take time to sit in meditation and savor the moments of non-doing.

Live Light Practice:

What is one thing you want to focus on for the next 3 hours? Let that be where all of your attention goes and each time your mind tries to pull you in a different direction take a breath and get back on track. Your mind will come up with many clever ways to distract you so be compassionate and aware rather than judging yourself for shifting your attention somewhere else for a moment. After exploring this approach a few times you will find the times of rest being more restful and the times of action being more efficient and successfully completed.





Ujjayi breathing can be an extremely helpful practice once you get the hang of it. Until then it is going to feel very awkward! To practice you can try it lying down or in a seated position. The ujjayi breathing is created by gently constricting the opening of the throat to create some resistance to the passage of air. Gently pulling the breath in on inhalation and gently pushing the breath out on exhalation against this resistance creates a well-modulated and soothing sound—something like the sound of ocean waves rolling in and out. The key to Ujjayi breathing is relaxation. Inhaling can be more challenging with ujjayi so try to focus just on the exhales to start. One way to think about the breathing is as if you were sipping the breath in through a straw. If the suction is too strong the straw collapses and great force is required to suck anything through it. Once Ujjayi breathing is mastered in a supine or seated position, the challenge is to maintain the same quality of breathing throughout your asana (postures) practice.


Thank yourself for…


At the end of each yoga class I like to close the session with my hands on my belly and chest to thank yourself for your practice and dedication today. It is a reminder to be grateful for your body, for yourself, and your dedication to the practice of living a healthier and more balanced life.

How often do we really thank ourselves? When we go home to be with our families or see old friends for the holiday we can fall back on habitual patterns of the past. It is important to stay present with yourself at this time and what you need. By taking time out to rejuvenate yourself you will be more likely to stay true to the person you have become rather than turning to food to calm our possibly turbulent emotions from the holidays. Perhaps this only pertains to me, but I am guessing we all have our own little idiosyncrasies when it comes to our families and old friends.

As a child you may demand things of your parents. As a parent you may be searching for just five minutes peace. Whatever your family role may be, be mindful of how your behavior is influencing others. Or perhaps you are rediscovering old friendships, be aware of the old thought patterns (samskaras) that appear as you revisit the past. The mindfulness and self-care practice doesn’t have to begin on Thursday Nov 24th. You can start setting your intention now and being clear with what you need to stay mindful and healthy over the long weekend.

Live Light Practice:

Set aside 20 minutes to sit and meditate. Begin the meditation by asking yourself what it is that you need to stay light and healthy over thanksgiving. Sit with whatever may arise in those twenty minutes. As the mind wanders gently coax it back to the question of ‘What do I need to stay light and healthy over thanksgiving?’. After the 20 minutes write down what you discovered in your meditation. Then place the pen down and ask yourself what are you grateful for? Give yourself another 20-30 minutes of time to quietly sit with this question without moving or writing anything. Then crack open your eyes pick up your pen and list 25 things you are grateful for at that moment. Take your time, don’t rush, and no matter how big or small you feel the things are that you are grateful for still acknowledge them all.





Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy: A Mind-Body Healing Practice

Do you find yourself seeking a fulfilling life, and a greater sense of connection to your body, mind, and spirit? Often looking outside of ourselves for happiness can bring us in circles because what we seek is already within. It wasn’t until I discovered Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT)  that I began to understand the truth and inner wisdom within me.

PRYT combines eastern and western yoga and psychology, creating a deep experience from the inside out. It is a mind-body healing practice combining yoga with contemporary client-centered psychological theory. At this point you may be asking yourself what exactly does that mean? Basically, it’s a yoga therapy session that combines meditation, breath work, yoga postures, and client directed dialogue to get to the root of your inner wisdom and to open up to the truth that is already within you.

Unlike a vinyasa class, a yoga therapy session is one-on-one so you’re not coming to learn postures or philosophy. A PRYT session deepens your understanding of the self and sheds light on the dark. PRYT taught me how to find my inner truth and follow the guidance from within. I no longer need to look outside of myself, because what I seek is already within me. The PRYT sessions give an opportunity to stop and truly listen to ourselves, and our intuition. It teaches us to be mindful, fully present, and awake to the life we currently live.

Life is about taking chances, doing new things and not just staying comfortable and safe. Through observation of our edges we are able to explore our self-imposed limitations. We learn to witness our habitual thought patterns (samskaras) and then choose to make changes or stay as we are without progression. In yoga as well as yoga therapy we ultimately will get out of it what we put into it. If we stay comfortable and away from our edge we will never develop and grow, and if we push aggressively past our edge we injure ourselves. It is being in a place with the discomfort and not struggling against it, but being with the experience in each and every moment.

Receiving a PRYT session is a time to abandon all expectations and open up to new experiences. There is no yoga experience required and you will find many benefits such as enhanced mental clarity, self-empowerment, self-esteem, and deeper connection with one’s inner self. Each session is unique and the best way to understand it to try it out your self!