Jackie Hartley Yoga & Fitness CrossFit Level 1 Trainer & Certified Yoga Instructor

Today is the first day of fall

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Temperatures are starting to drop and the leaves are starting to change color.  Each morning when I step outside, the shift in seasons is more apparent.  As the heat and humidity of the summer begins to drift away, and is replaced by a cool crispness.  Just as nature prepares itself to renew , this is the perfect time to review resolutions that have fallen to the wayside, and setting intentions. 
As you look back over the past year, what worked and what didn’t?  How do you want to approach your day, or your week?  Intention setting doesn’t need to be overwhelming, or something monumental.  Start small.  Perhaps you want to get off of automatic pilot and be more present in your decision making, or maybe you want to simply take three deep breaths before reacting to a situation that is drawing a negative reaction from you.  Set an intention that is meaningful to you; something that will help you feel more fulfilled.  The more fulfilled you feel, be more positivity you will radiate and without trying, that joy will spread to those around you.  How many times have walked into a room and felt someone’s sadness, anger, or happiness without them saying a word?  Our words, actions, and emotions leave ripples in the universe. 
Move through your day mindfully and with intention.  That’s not to say that we won’t have slip ups.  We are human after all.  Give yourself a little grace when you slip, remind yourself of why your intention is important to you and move forward.  No punishment or chastising needed.  The easier it becomes to forgive yourself, the easier it will be to forgive others.
Embrace the magic of the season.  Find a quiet place, maybe with a hot cup of tea, turn your awareness inwards.  Reflect and renew.

Kaizen - the idea of on-going or continuous improvement

Have you ever sat back and wondered how you got to where you are when things have gone completely off track? What was the one decision or action that derailed you?

Small - Jackie Hartley Kaizen

Chances are, it wasn’t just one decision, it was a series of small actions. Some of them so small, that at the time they seemed inconsequential. Surely, they don’t count. Guess what? They matter! We have all been there when the climb out seems insurmountable. When we feel like there is no way we can change something about ourselves. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel, we find ourselves in? I’ll let you in on a little secret. That light that we keep looking for, that way out that we can’t seem to find, it’s closer than you think.

The Japanese have a business philosophy called kaizen. Put simply, kaizen is the idea of on-going or continuous improvement. Kaizen encourages a mindset where small incremental changes create an impact over time. Too often we believe that to improve ourselves or the situation we are in, we need to make big changes all at once usually starting on a Monday. How did that work for you? It didn’t work for me. It would last for a few days, at best. I would end up right where I started, adding in an unhealthy dose of self-deprecation. It’s exhausting and quite frankly, all that negative self-talk compounds and that tunnel you were in is just a little darker.

Stop looking for an instant fix, there isn’t one. If you want to change or fix something, start with the very next decision you make. It’s all about living your life with intention and mindfully. Take yourself off automatic and be fully present with yourself and your environment. Be aware that your actions have consequences. If you make a poor decision, grant yourself some grace. Reflect on why you made that decision. Understanding the underlying reason can help you make a different choice next time. If you find yourself struggling with a choice, take a 3 second pause. Clear your mind with some deep breaths and approach the choice through the lens of whether the decision you make will support the path you are walking. Your decisions light the way.

Live your life with intention. Be true and honest to yourself. If something isn’t working, don’t make excuses for it. We already know excuses don’t work. Make small adjustments every day. Remember, you are your own light.

Let’s dance – life lessons from a thousand year old statue

There is a large statue of a dancing Shiva Nataraj in the grounds of the CERN labs in Switzerland, where the W and Z bosons were discovered, and the World Wide Web was invented. The location underlines the parallels between the work of modern scientists and that of ancient yogis, both working to decode “the cosmic dance.”


Looking at the statue beyond the surface, it is beautifully filled with symbolic and universal meaning. Shiva Nataraja means king of the dancers. This specific style of the statue was perfected over 1,000 years ago in Southern India, although the ideas it embodies are much older.

There are five different statue types, each representing a different step in Shiva’s dance. Let’s unpack some of the features of the typical studio or home-sized statue shown above:

  • The ring represents the material world.
  • Within it, Lord Shiva is dancing creation and destruction, birth, and death in His cosmic play.
  • His long yogic hair streams out to touch the very edges of the universe.
  • He has four arms.
    • His upper right-hand holds a drum, symbolizing creation.
    • His upper left-hand holds fire, symbolizing destruction.
    • His lower right-hand is held in a gesture of “do not fear” … and a cobra is close at hand!
    • His lower left-hand points down to a demon beneath him.
  • His right foot is breaking the back of that demon, who represents the ego, ignorance, and low states of consciousness.
  • The left foot is raised and symbolizes spiritual confrontation.
Many yogic traditions credit Lord Shiva as their original founder.

While we could talk about the science of creation and how to take ourselves to our maximum potential, the main takeaway is it doesn’t matter at what level of evolution we currently are at because there is always room for growth and expansion.

We all start somewhere, and change doesn’t happen overnight. If we set our egos aside and apply knowledge to improve ourselves, we can grow to be more than what we are.