Category Archives: Yoga

What is gratitude, anyway?

Gratitude

I took some time to sit down and think about what exactly Gratitude means to me and what it feels like. Here is what I came up with…

Gratitude envelopes your entire body and soul. I feel it, physically. My body starts to gently quiver, as if I have the chills. My stomach is a flutter, I can take a deep breath and let tiny tears of joy fill my eyes for a moment.

What does Gratitude leave you feeling?

I feel an abundance of love, an abundance of so much of a good thing, that exists in life. And you begin to recognize how gratitude heals and how gratitude carries you through those trying times in life that we all endure. This feeling of gratitude wakes us up in the morning and helps us to sleep soundly.

Gratitude allows us to experience pain and also to laugh heartily. It is with this mindset of gratitude that we are able to know ourselves better, not for the things we do or the tasks that we check off our list each day, but for our ability to feel and be present.

In Tal Ben-Shahar’s book “Happier” he shares the concept of a gratitude letter. A gratitude letter, he explains, “is not just a thank-you note. It is a thoughtful examination of the meaning and pleasure that you derive from the relationship; it describes particular experiences and shared dreams, and whatever else in the relationship is a source of joy.”

A Gratitude Letter helps us take this feeling of gratitude one step further. Because know that gratitude is not simply saying “I’m so grateful,” it is not simply a mindset, but it is a way in which we interact with those who surround us.

Who can you write a Gratitude Letter to this week? Explore how gratitude is so much more than a feeling, but also how we communicate that feeling.

We will work on exploring Gratitude Letters and what exactly Gratitude means to YOU on Radiant Retreat 2015. Registration is OPEN! To learn more and to register click here.

 

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Radiant Moments on Retreat

“Ah-ha” Moments from the Radiant Retreat 2008…

When asked about my biggest “a-ha moment” on the Radiant Retreat, I wrote this story:

In 3rd grade, we were prompted to write on a 3×5 card “Who is your hero and why?”

I knew my answer immediately: my cousin Jennifer.

As an eight-year-old the answer to “why” was: because she is an amateur actor. In actuality Jen was a professional actor, I just thought she was too young to be a professional. But what I really meant was: I looked up to her – in the highest way possible.

Jennifer inspired me because she was out there on her own in the world doing what moved her and sparked her soul. It was abundantly clear to my little 3rd grade brain that Jennifer was following her heroic path. Maybe it was the way she talked to me, the smile that beamed from her face, or the way she laughed with my parents about what it’s like to be an actor – but you could just tell.

Twenty years later and I seized the opportunity to practice yoga with Jen and attend the Radiant Retreat. I was sure my yoga asana practice would totally blossom and morph into an outer worldly experience. I was ready to take on all the handstands, inversions, backbends, and arm balances. I was going to work my butt off to “master” them all. But what happened on the Radiant Retreat was so much more rocking than a blossoming asana practice.

Conquering fancy poses became less of a priority. Jen’s yoga classes served to put my body and mind at ease. I opened up in an entirely new way and for the first time, I wrote things true to my soul and SHARED them. The first time I read out loud to the group my voice quivered but I began to soak in all that I was expressing; my vulnerability and exceptional truth.

I read out loud and proud. I laughed and cried and shared the 3rd-grade hero story with the group. And at the center of it all, I shared that I was committing to a strong desire to get to know my extended family a little better. And wasn’t it superb that they, my aunt and cousins, could be there?

The retreat gave me one week to feel safe in a beautiful space, and the truth and writing poured right out. And hasn’t stopped since.

And here is Jennifer’s response:

In 2008, my cousin, Maggie Converse, came on the Radiant Retreat and impossible things started becoming possible.

One blue sky Tulum morning after sunrise and meditation, all 30 of us stood in a Gratitude circle on the beach (an optional opportunity to share inspiration or gratitude), and Maggie spoke,

“I’m grateful for Jennifer. During a meditation, she came to mind as one of my hero’s…”

I missed most of what she said, too busy thinking, Really? Am I your hero? You came all the way to Tulum, age 24, and took a leap of faith. That’s inspiring.

Being “the oldest sister” in my family, I’m used to being the shepherdess, babysitter, take-charge chic and caretaker and I’d never thought of myself as a hero.

Maggie continued, finding the right words,

“I wanted to be closer to people in my family and that’s part of why I came on the retreat. So, it’s great to get closer to Jennifer, Kate (my cousin) and Kitsie (my Aunt) and to know my family…better.”

Maggie was right: our extended family wasn’t close. Divorced, remarried or spread across the map. Over the years, we saw one another at weddings and funerals and a few Thanksgivings. It was no one’s fault. My grandmother had been the hub and once she past the spokes had no center.

“Thank you,” I said, swallowing and digging my feet deeper into the sand. Absorbing the waves and sun: Hero, retreat leader, and family.

It felt magnificent to hear Maggie articulate what I’d wanted, thought and written in my journal years before and yet never knew how to change.

We stood together under the sun and knowing that impossible things can happen before breakfast.

And someone added, “I’m super excited for breakfast and a bowl of granola. This place is paradise. It sure beats Philly in March!”

When the circle broke up, I hugged Maggie and said, “Thank you for being my hero. And saying what I’ve been feeling for years. I love you.”

Jennifer & Maggie at Sandy Neck, Summer 2014

Jennifer & Maggie at Sandy Neck, Summer 2014

Radiant Retreat, Tulum, Mexico, March 21-28, 2015  – Register Now

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Running for Moments of Stillness

3 mile run, 10 minutes of yoga, and 5 minute meditation. What a way to start a Monday! Have you ever tried meditation after your run?

My Monday started at 5AM with the sound of my alarm. Time to start the day with some early-bird yoga students immediately followed by a doctor’s appoint. Was I kidding myself when I planned my day? I sometimes operate in this “go, go, go!” mentality and forget to stop and pause for a minute …

Luckily I blocked out a 2 hour chunk of time to work from home and squeeze in a quick run, just to get the blood pumping. I left for my run as I normally do at the beginning of the week – the mantra is usually “just go easy” or “run as you feel.” It sets the tone for the lowest pressure possible which is helpful at the beginning of the week.

On this particular Monday my stride felt strong and purposeful (could have been those new running shoes I just purchased) and I even found a new route near my home – with minimal hills! (This is a challenge as we live on a very steep hill.)

When I returned home, instead of my usual routine of email check, Facebook check, second email check, stuff something in my face, drink some fluids, OK time to shower!, I sat on the floor and set my phone timer for 10 minutes. I did 10 minutes of yoga which always includes my favorite post-run stretches. And then something pretty cool happened. When I was done with the yoga I just felt like sitting.

I set my alarm again for 5 minutes and sat for a meditation. Sweat was still dripping down my face and I could feel the uncomfortable dampness of my shirt but it felt so sweet to be in stillness after this incredible exertion of energy and effort. Yin and yang. One extreme to the next. But in that meditation I observed: the energy from my run still pulsating through my body, how warm I felt, my stinky sweaty run clothes, and even while sitting in stillness how motivated and energized I felt.

When we can sneak in these little moments of stillness for ourselves and just be witness to all that is going on within us, we start to move forward in life with a little more clarity and steadiness. Maybe when we learn to fit in a short meditation after a run we start to appreciate all that we have accomplished up to that very moment, despite our grander goals. Maybe then we can fit in a short meditation before a work meeting or a challenging conversation with a loved-one.

I don’t normally do this after a run and I would like to make an effort to do it regularly. We are all pressed for time, ALL THE TIME, it seems. But even if you can take 1, 3, or 5 minutes after your run for this meditation I think you will begin to be a little kinder to yourself and appreciate all that your beautiful body is capable of. Even on those “bad run” days.

Interested in adding a little meditation into your running routine? Follow these simple steps or email me for a little extra guidance!

  1. Run … for any amount of time you have planned or just run for fun for as long as you feel!
  2. Yoga … set your timer for 5-10 minutes and go through some basic yoga stretches. Think hips, quads, hamstrings, and back. Or just do legs up the wall.
  3. Meditate … find a comfortable seat, legs up the wall, or lie down. Set your alarm, close your eyes, and focus on your breath and your body. Notice each and every little sensation. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting out there today!

Let me know how your run + yoga + meditation experience goes. What was easy? What was challenging? Post your comments and questions here!

XO Maggie

 

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Announcing: the Radiant Retreat, March 21-28, 2015

Announcing the Radiant Retreat, March 21-28, 2015 to Tulum, Mexico, Founded by Jennifer Schelter, and assisted by yoga teacher and health coach, Maggie Converse.

RR2015The Radiant Retreat is an internationally recognized week-long retreat to the stunning natural paradise of the Mayan Riviera.

The retreat enhances self-care, connection, rejuvenation, fun, and creativity.

The daily schedule includes: mindfulness meditation, yoga (for all levels), creative writing – memoir, poetry or letter writing, one-on-one instruction, healthy meals, free time, and relaxation.

Jennifer and I look forward to sharing elements of the retreat and journey over the next 6 months, as we all begin to prepare all the elements for your adventure to the Radiant Retreat in Tulum.

Take a peek at your calendar for March 2015.

Just planting the seed, and reminding you that come March, you could be packing your bags for Tulum.

Share this adventure and enjoy the ride.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Click here for full details on the Radiant Retreat.

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Home Yoga Challenge

photoIntroducing … The Home Yoga Challenge! #MaggiesYogaChallenge

 

Does a home yoga practice intimidate you? Maybe it’s because of an impression that you MUST be able to do certain poses. Or maybe it’s because you just don’t have the time.

 

Can you lie on your back with your legs up the wall or stand on one leg and focus on your breath? Can you carve out 5-10 minutes any time of day that are just for you?

 

If you answered yes to both those questions then you most certainly can do a home yoga practice. And, starting on Monday July 28, I am starting the Home Yoga Challenge for 10 Days!

 

During the 10 Day Challenge we will:

  • Set aside at least 5 minutes for our home practice (see guidelines for a home practice in my blog post here)
  • Post a photo of your practice space or a photo of you in a pose on FB, Twitter, or Instagram
  • Use hashtag #MaggiesYogaChallenge and tag my FB Page, Twitter (@MaggieConverse), or Instagram (@maggieconverseyoga)

 

At the end I will be giving away a month of free health coaching to one lucky participant!! I hope you will join me on the mat (or carpet or wood floor or grass…) So — Who’s in??? XO

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How to Like Your Body … a FREE workshop

Body Image is a hot topic today. It would be wonderful if we could wave a magic wand and love everything about ourselves, but even just starting to LIKE ourselves is a huge challenge. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process.

Yoga was a huge catalyst that allowed me to shift the way I looked at my body. I struggled with bulimia for several years in college and it was diving deep into a yoga practice that finally allowed for that shift to happen:

I remember looking at my thighs in one class. Those thighs I hated for so long — I used to look at my thighs when I would sit in a chair and feel so horrible about myself because of the way they splayed out and almost tripled (or so I thought) in size.  I forever wanted to transform them into tiny sticks and for the first time ever I said “WOW. Those are my amazing thighs! They do so much for me!”

It was at this point where I started to finally accept myself, little by little, and respect myself so much so that I opened doors for even more change to happen.

I want to share some of my story, some of my experience, and help you begin to like your body from the inside out. I hope you will consider joining me for this free workshop on June 30th from 5:00-6:30pm. We will meet at M3Yoga Studio, 44 Main St., Westport, CT.

Please RSVP for your free tickets by clicking here. For those who cannot attend but are interested in learning more about the work that I do, please email me at maggie.converse@gmail.com

With Love,
Maggie

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Apparently I haven’t made myself clear … Yoga Saved Me

I was at dinner a few weeks ago with Brett and some friends. We were having a great time, laughing and joking around about … eating disorders. To be absolutely specific, it was about making yourself throw up and that transitioned to eating disorders.

I guess, thank god, I am finally at a point in my life where sometimes, SOMETIMES, I can step back and poke fun of my former self and the way that I used to operate. The harsh reality is that when you are dealing with an eating disorder, the disorder itself is not so funny, and life becomes less funny because you are constantly criticizing yourself.

treestluciaBut I digress … as the conversation started to get a little more personal, my friend paused and then asked me, “Maggie how did you get over all your stuff?” In this case “stuff” was keyword for “bulimia.”

“Yoga,” I replied.

“What? Brett?” my friend asked, misunderstanding my mumbled answer amidst the chaotic restaurant.

“No, I got over all my stuff because of my yoga practice,” I replied, a little bit louder now.

Thinking to myself, isn’t it obvious? Doesn’t everybody know that? But clearly that is not the case because I have never truly shared my full story, except for with a select few.

I’m still building up the confidence to really let it all out but even saying it at the dinner table that night, where two people who were not privy to my triumph over an eating disorder with yoga, made me flush with pride.

So this is me starting to open myself up and share my story with you. Finally.

 

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Treat YoSelf! Night at NY Running Co.

Ladies … whether you are running the Brooklyn Half this weekend or not, I hope you will come join me for a special event at NY Running Company East. This is especially exciting because it will be my first official event as a Lole Women Ambassador!

 

RunCoLOLEMay19JPG

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Upcoming Workshop: Expand Your Practice On and Off The Mat

Life Balance Jumpstart will be doing our second workshop of the year. I’m so excited to be teaming up with Sophie Slater next weekend to bring you this workshop, focusing on some of the philosophy and teachings of yoga. Come dive deeper into your practice with us — both on and off the mat!

Expand Your Practice On And Off the Mat

Yoga and the Yoga Sutras with Maggie Converse & Sophie Slater of Life Balance Jumpstart

Sunday March 15th 1:30- 3:30pm at M3 Yoga Westport
$35 ($30 for M3 Monthly/Annual members)

Do you love yoga?

If so, you might want to expand your knowledge of the origins of this powerful practice and acquire even more tools to help you carry that calm, confident, centered space you find on the yoga mat into your everyday life.

To do so, join Sophie Slater and Maggie Converse for this special workshop on Yoga & the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

It will be an afternoon of grounding yoga, meditation, and engaging introductory discourse on the Yoga Sutras of the great sage Patanjali, the 196 aphorism text that outlines the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga.

Bring your mat, a pen, and a curious mind. Sign up at M3 Yoga Westport by clicking here!

 

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Set Your Intentions! Workshops – this weekend!

If you are like most of us, you have at least given a few minutes of consideration to setting goals and resolutions for the new year. AND if you are like most of us, these resolutions fade fast. So … how do we hold to these resolutions? How do we treat them as our “north stars”, allowing them to guide us through a process of growth and change?

If you happen to be in the Fairfield County area this weekend, I will be co-teaching an intention-setting workshop twice with Sophie Slater. The first will be at M3 Yoga in Westport on Saturday 2-4pm and then again on Sunday 3-5pm at A New Earth Yoga in Easton, CT.

To Register:

…for the m3 workshop email merri@m3yogawestport.com.

…for the A New Earth workshop click here.

We hope to see you there!

Set Your Intentions! Workshop

Set Your Intentions! Workshop

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