Monday, May 28, 2012

Positive Affirmations

A strong mind is the most powerful tool you can develop towards your well-being. It's important to your health that you place a positive spin on your habitual thinking and act like a winner. Training your mind is exactly like training for a marathon. It's a muscle, and practicing mastery over your mind makes it stronger. Energy flows where the mind goes, so it is essential that you put your head in the right place. The mind rules the emotions and the emotions rule the body, so guiding your thoughts is essential to your health. Noticing where your attention goes is the first step. If you are anything like me, when you are in a pose, you will notice yourself wishing it were over or wanting to move to the next thing. This is a step in the right direction: the detachment to observe and  recognize the thought patterns that are going on all day long... without your noticing. So when you practice, you have an opportunity to reframe or change them. i.e. “this is hard” becomes “this is the feeling of my body getting strong”. Retraining your mind is a practice, but you will see results. 

Here are some fun exercises to help put your head in the right place:

1. Find a spiritual book you really like. Ask a question, then turn to any page and see how it applies to your problem or issue. Use it as a theme for your yoga routine.

2. Choose an Angel Card, Wisdom Cardor another positive thought card and use this as a lens through which to view your practice.

3. When all else fails, think about someone you have a crush on. This is my go-to motivator. I am always inspired by my crushes. If you don’t have a crush already... you have homework!

When you use your thinking in the right way, you will have the best cheering section in town encouraging your growth at all times. Postive thinking will not only make you feel better, but being happy will emanate from you and others will feel your energy. You will feel like a winner, if you train!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Breath

How many times during a day do you notice yourself holding your breath? It is shocking to me how often I need to remind myself to take a deep breath, and I am a yoga instructor!! My mind is abuzz with planning and thinking. I can so easily find myself lost in some other time and place either worrying about the future or regretting the past. So I remind myself to return. The breath is the bridge from the mind to the body. This is how the mind/body connection happens. You may notice that when you focus on your breathing that your mind begins to clear of all the thoughts that clutter it, and brings your mental focus into the present moment...which is happening in your body. 

 There are several different ways we can explore breathing:

1. Connecting the breath to the YOGA. Sun Salutes are a great way to practice using mindful breathing. I heard a great guideline for breathing one time that goes: Inhale, exhale, and continue. In yoga, the inhalation happens when we expand the body, and the exhale occurs when we contract. So a forward bend would be an exhalation, and an inhale would be an arch or anything where the body is opening. The other thing to keep in mind is that in yoga, it is preferred to breathe in and out of the nose with a relaxed jaw and slight constriction of the throat. It should make a hollow sound. If you don’t get this at first, don’t be concerned. The breath should be a full breath, starting with filling your belly, then your chest and your nose.

2. MEDITATION is simply breathing mindfully. So we can even imagine that our yoga practice is a moving meditation. Simply notice your breath. Even 2-5 minutes of daily mindful breathing will make space for more miracles in your life, and will allow you to reset yourself each day. I am not a world class meditator, but I do try to focus on my breath for a short period of time on a daily basis. It allows me to train my thoughts and to become much more present in my everyday life, which makes me far more effective and better able to clearly communicate with others.

3. BREATHING TECHNIQUES are good ways to forge lines of communication between the spirit and the mind. In yoga there are several different breathing techniques that can be used. The body is such an amazing tool, and breath is a primary aspect of that. Breath is our body’s natural heating and coolant system. When you need to warm up, a closed mouth can keep the heat inside. Think of the belly as a furnace, and the breathing is fanning that fire. When you need to cool down try opening the mouth on the exhale. Alternate Nostril Breathing and Breath of Fire are two different forms of yogic breathing techniques that can help you. Yogis also call these techniques Pranayama.

In fact, your life force energy (or Prana) is carried through the body on the vehicle of the breath. Each moment is an opportunity to come present to this essential human need that you are constantly fulfilling. The more awareness you bring to this action, the more vibrant and alive every moment will feel. Just Breathe.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Wealth of Mother Earth

Together, we are wealthy! Our divine birthright is the abundance of Earth. Nothing is more valuable than the incredible, lush beauty of nature and Mother Earth... and it is all FREE. The bright colors, the sweeping skyscapes, the raw elements. The most incredible art form is the Earth itself, constantly shifting and morphing. Each day holds another surprising backdrop for my life. Beyond that, the value of having a true home and a sense of belonging can be felt just by communing with a mountain. The Earth our original home, like the womb. The Earth is receptive AND giving, like the mother's body. When we get in harmony with the creative nature of our mother; when we plant seeds, cultivate, and care for her, we are gifted with new life and become co-creators. By caring for the Earth we become creators just like her.

All we need to do to receive that richness is to take the time to be present to nature and commune with the Earth. Here are some tips:

Tree People has generous hiking and nature trails.

Huntington Botanical Gardens reminds of earth's natural beauty.

Practice your yoga outside, at a park or near the beach. 

Be in touch with the beauty that surrounds you all the time. 

Get grounded by laying down and getting close to the grass while gazing up at the beautiful sky!

Tadasana is called Mountain pose. It is the foundational yoga pose. It exists within each posture.

Remember that everything that is truly valuable cannot be bought, and cannot be taken from you. It is up to you to cultivate that glorious relationship to your mother earth. Creating security and having ownership is supported by our concept of value and the action of putting away a little bit each day. Re-creation on a daily basis is like money in the bank; it adds up over time. Your strength and flexibility is a cumulative result of your daily practice. Own your power. Claim the richness of your birthright which is your beautiful body. 

The following yoga routine is meant to be done slowly and thoroughly. Feel your body as you sink into a pose for a long time. Hold each of these for 90 seconds each (click here to download a PDF):

  • Chair Pose
  • Tree Pose
  • Temple
  • Warrior 2
  • Triangle
  • Half Moon
  • Standing Splits
  • Forward Bend
  • Squat
  • Cobbler's Pose
  • Pigeon
  • Seated Forward Bend

Monday, May 7, 2012

More Pleasure

We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. It is okay to enjoy the pleasures of the Earth, as it is a physical manifestation of spirit! Comforts and the belongings we value can be a good thing. Enjoyment is a high form of gratitude. Grounding into your body and being present is an expression of spirituality. Many spiritual traditions teach us to deny ourselves, our bodies, and physical pleasure. This is a month dedicated to celebrating your God-given senses. I love the idea of “coming to my senses”. That means being sane, because I am completely in the present moment and appreciating what is real. When we are planning for and worrying about the future, or regretting the past, we are in a way insane. Try returning to the present moment by appreciating the world through your senses. These are ways that I indulge my senses to feel pleasure:

Just taste it. Indulge. It's not the one bite of cake you have, it's what you eat consistently that counts. I frequently indulge in a piece of dark salty chocolate. Studies now show that chocolate has heath and weight-loss benefits! My new favorite is John Kelly. Another way to delight your tastebuds is to appreciate the taste of healthy foods. Nature and eating nature. My favorite natural indulgence: ripe avocado with Premier Pink Salt.

We all need touch. Babies that don't get held become ill and weak. We require this to survive! There is no greater comfort than a hug or resting my head on the shoulder of a dear one, but if that is not available to me I can pamper myself with a massage. If you cannot afford massage, imagine your yoga practice is your opportunity to give yourself a massage from the inside out. Yoga's benefits not only touch on the body structure and muscles, but the internal organs as well. I got a great massage from Bodywork Astrology. Check it out if you want to treat yourself and if you have the funds. You are worth it!

Asthetics are important. I love to practice on my Vision Mat, so that my eyes can gaze upon something that stimulates and inspires me. Sometimes removing the clutter and creating a beautiful space with candles and flowers enhances the relaxation aspect of practice. Take some extra time to set the tone. Art can be inspiring too. Take a field trip to the nearest museum!

Scents induce very powerful physical and emotional responses. Aromatherapy calms, energizes, and tones. I love to slather on vanilla oil. Try these extraordinary products at Persephenie.

Voicing yourself is another form of liberation and sensation. The call and response of chanting is repetitive and will bring your body bliss. Music has always inspired me. Daily Candy nominated me "Best of Sound" for my exercise playlists. This month you can choose my Gratitude Mix or a Great Chanting playlist.

Be thankful for what you have by using it and sharing it. 

Thank you for following me along. Let's enjoy ourselves this week.