Yoga and Vacation
Your teacher has left town, it’s hot and you’re on vacation.
Good reasons to skip your practice?
Think again - do you want to remain youthful and if so , then your back has to stay flexible.
The body needs to move forward and backwards, sideways and around as in a twist as much as possible. Practice begets a routine and the routine becomes a habit – just like brushing your teeth. This routine of yoga keeps you connected to your breath which connects the dots in your mind and body in order to have calm in your life, less stress day to day.
“I would argue that a 20-something person who is in their prime of life and reasonably good shape needs less yoga to sustain their practice than someone in their 50s or 60s,” One study analyzing the effects of yoga on women over 50 found that practicing asanas (yoga postures) even once a week led to an increase in the mobility of spinal joints and flexibility of the hamstring muscles.”
How to find time while on vacation:
“Loren Fishman, M.D., a back pain specialist who studied yoga and uses it in his rehabilitative practice, believes that even one minute spent in practice can be enough to reset someone's outlook….”
The beginning of a new season is always a good time to detox the body.
Combining a cleanse using the tools of food and yoga poses - all the better!
This article will include both. Begin in bed in the morning by bringing your knees into your chest. Hold for a minute while breathing naturally. Next, extend the right leg and bring the left over your body to the right. This puts your body into a gentle twist wringing the organs for elimination. Breathe and and stay 30 seconds. Come back to your center and extend the left leg while drawing the right in and then over the body to the left. Hold here the same time. Back to the center.
Time to get up.
Hang gently beside the bed resting the head on the bed or next to it. Stay and breathe for about 30 seconds and then slowly come up vertebra by vertebra. Twists remove toxins and massage the organs so let's do another one. Step the feet apart about 3 feet and raise the arms from the sides to shoulder height. Inhale and twist to the left, exhale back to the center. Inhale and twist right, exhale back to center. Do 3 more times.
You can continue your routine with more poses - here is a good one to continue for a little bit longer or head into the kitchen where you can prepare some lemon juice to drink. Take the juice of a 1/2 lemon and pour into a 1/2 to 3/4 full glass of water and drink slowly or prepare a juice of 1/2 stalk celery, 1/2 an apple, 3-4 carrots and a small piece of ginger. This last part assumes that you have the juicer to do so.
You are set to go for the day and the detox routine took about 10-15 minutes of your time. Continue for as many days as you want - maybe 1X a week or 7 days or a month.
It's your body - your way!
Yoga is itself a practice of starting over. Every time you come to the mat something begins, continues and is let go. Prove it by inhaling through the nose and exhaling out through the mouth three times in a row; it’s impossible not to feel refreshed.
I just read that in a blog while searching out a certain pose to teach this week.
It resonated with me. Everyday we start over, new thoughts , different perspective, and these days an ever changing world -view. Here is my attitude as some of you well know - Yoga when you can go no where. Yoga when you are in doubt. Yoga when you have fear.
It is unbelievably freeing especially if you add even 10 minutes of meditation.
Try this simple sequence to "restart".
First, do the above breath - inhale nose, exhale mouth 3X.
Lift both shoulders up and let them fall gently as you inhale up and exhale down thru the nose now, 3X. Bring both arms up from your sides and stretch overhead, palms touching - you guessed it 3X.
Now come forward and hang gently over - use a block or bend knees slightly.
Next, sit quietly either listening to a favorite chant or mantra or some quiet music.
You can include this as well if you like: place 3 fingers of one hand on the wrist of the other and find your pulse. Continue for 3 minutes. All Done!
Now go for it!
I exhale worry…and inhale Peace
I release tension…and accept tranquility
I breathe out fear…and breath in courage
I let go of all anger and welcome Love
I release sadness and receive joy
In your day, give one minute to peace. Sit down and just relax, feel peaceful inside and give a prayer to honor those who work for peace and for the tranquility of all mankind. Let us honor ourselves. Let us recognize our inner peace. Pray deeply for your inner peace and for the entire mankind.
Yogi Bhajan - 6/10/89
The world is crazed due to anxiety and fear of future possibilities.
People do and say things that are unkind and hurtful to one another.
How can an individual help in these times?
Imagine giving more than a minute for a prayer for peace.
Find the quiet within-
The light from one moment beams out into the Universe.
That energy of peace and harmony escapes through the cracks of disharmony.
Sit down as Yogi Bhajan suggests in the early morning or anytime
and align with the Breath.
“From the soul’s perspective, we all have a direct connection and relationship with every soul on the planet. The deeper and clearer our inner awareness is, the deeper and clearer our connection to all of humanity. This is how, in our own small way, we can have a real effect on the world. We can maximize this connection through service (seva), spiritual practice (sadhana), and sharing experiences with like-minded people (satsang).” – Deepak Chopra
Now - examine the ways you find peace…
This is how I do it!
Sadhana first thing in the morning as I listen to songs of light and holiness.
I visualize the people around me that I hold dear and that love me.
I think calm thoughts as I go about the day.
I see beauty in the world.
I call and connect with a friend.
I work outside in the sunshine.
I feed my chickens and guineas and chuckle at their silliness.
I enjoy my grand child and laugh with her.
I exhale worry…and inhale Peace
Calm heart Meditation to soothe and bring one back to center.
Mandala ( man·da·la ) –
A wheel within a wheel…
A circle in a circle
The Universe, the cosmos,
Wholeness in a picture
Or is it a diagram
A cosmic depiction
Showing the Infinite state of Being
Within and Beyond all
Earth, sun, planets
Circles of circles of circles
Community, kin, friends…
Happy Fall Equinox!
This Thursday the sun transitions into Libra – sign of balance – Libra lady depicted as blindfolded and holding scales – Why? She is portrayed as weighing out justice – seeking equality, and balance. This time of year is when we bring in and have a Harvest celebration to give thanks for the blessings of abundance.
It can be a time to be thankful and a time to reflect on the past months of this year 2016. Which crops, projects, and dreams bore fruit and which did not?
Here is an exercise to “weigh in” on your personal scale.
Take a sheet of paper and draw a circle. Divide the circle into 4 sections. Label these areas (your choice of course) either – Emotional, Physical, Mental and Spiritual; or label them Fun, Work, Creative and Physical.
Think about this next step…add words that describe your life this year for each section. Example – in the physical area – you might write, yoga or swimming or walking. Emotional could be – listening to music, journaling.
Take 5-10 minutes. Find some colors (crayons, magic markers, or (really fun) pastels – and shade in with red the area with the most words, yellow next, then orange and ending with gold or brown (depending on what you have available). You might end up with only 2 colors as I did (1 red section and 3 gold ).
Observe your picture and do not judge yourself but recognize the areas with the most red and the least gold or brown.
Another creative exercise – if you do not want to do that one and find you would rather concentrate on your “Harvest” – would be to take a sheet of paper and make 2 columns.
One is labeled Crops and one titled Dreams
Under crops – what plans that you began in 2016 came forward and had a yield?
Dreams – what ideas or visions are still to happen?
Enjoy this day with friends or family and I know I am looking forward to cooler weather and tying up loose ends – finishing the year with more joy in my heart!
There are many English idioms or phrases that use the word "HOT".
Hot Under the Collar - which means to get angry about something not very important or to be in Hot Water - meaning you've done or said something to perhaps warrant a slap on the wrist or to be Hot - in the sense of in style or fashionable and popular.
Let me give you a Hot Tip - an important or useful suggestion...
The temperatures have been in the 90's with a heat index of 100+ and to think of going outside and driving to a yoga class is the last thought on your mind.
I would like to invite you rather into visualizing feelings of coolness and relaxation in a class where the heat dissipates from your mind and from your body as well.
Yoga during this time of intense heat can help one handle "sticky" situations with a family member or co-worker, or lower the degree or intensity of interactions while driving or in a horrible meeting. It can also help you to slow down and remember the importance of Life staying in the present moment.
How? Yoga is soothing to the mind. By watching the breath in class - it will help you to remember to control the breath outside of class to recognize and slow it down, exhaling peace and calm helping you to cool down the anger or anxiety.
Sitali Breath is a good one to cool the body down physically. In Sanskrit, the word sitali means "cooling," and this breath has an immediate cooling effect. Inhaling into the moisture of your tongue makes your mouth—and whole body—feel a nice inner breeze.
Stretching the spine in class renews your whole body and gets the serotonin hopping and increases the flow of this neurotransmitter through the body and brain. It's a chemical messenger that’s believed to act as a mood stabilizer.
Studies have also found that yoga reduces levels of cortisol (a stress hormone that’s secreted by the adrenals). Cortisol is the fight or flight hormone so maybe it's a good idea to take refuge in your practice!
Hoping this Hot Tip gets you into the car ,or if fortunate enough to walk, to your local yoga studio or teacher. Yoga may turn out to be a
Hot favorite to use this summer.
January 1st, 2016, a new year begins and with that the opportunity to join with possibly thousands reciting a poem, a poem of love--Japji, the song of the soul. How awesome is that to uplift your life and the world, doing mantra and shining your light into the dark.
“The Sound Current of Japji and the meaning of its words, when meditated upon with openness and love, awaken a soul to its destiny. Step by step, Japji gives you the comprehensive power to know yourself as you are and be with God’s Creation in a spirit of joyful surrender.” Ek Ong Kaur Khalsa
The extended meditations in Kundalini Yoga (40/90/120 days) instigate transformation and action. Rightly so, if you journal daily—and here is something that is key—read over and over what you have put down, realizations begin to sink in, one single footstep at a time.
“…To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kinds of thoughts (actions, too –KF) we wish to dominate our lives.” Henry David Thoreau
There are key words for journaling during a 40 or 90 day or more meditation or practice. These are: introspection, clarity, experience, awareness and release. After you have gone within in the quiet of the morning, introspection on one’s life is often found and in just a few words can be disentangled. Clarity on your actions (both good and not so good) is found through writing about your day.
Awareness and a deeper understanding of one’s life are processed as you refer back on the journaling paragraphs. And there can be an emotional release in those written words that does not have to play out in the outer world. Everyone’s experience will be different and also everyone’s understanding of that experience.
“What happens to us is not as important as the meaning we assign to it. Journaling helps sort this out.” Michael Hyatt
I suggest you become a little bit familiar with Japji before the 40-Day Sadhana starts on January 1, and begin to learn the nuance of the language by listening to a tape. And find your journal!
By Kathe Forrest/Siri Kirin Kaur
I am a dedicated yogi. My practice is what I begin the day with before the sun rises.
However, on Saturday I somehow hurt my back. Feeding the chickens that morning – I had a spasm in my lower back that produced a shooting pain. I dropped to the ground and waited. I was only able to make it back to the house through the breath.
The next 3 days were hard due to having to keep still for the most part and lie down but I felt the loss of my routine and my yoga! Yes, I did the breathing/meditation in bed but the Kriya for Metabolism and Relaxation was put on hold.
I am much better today due to a great massage on Tuesday and turmeric and arnica and being very careful through listening to the body which is one of the main tenets of Yoga!
I have dropped the kriya from my practice for several reasons: 1) It’s been more than 5 days and my 40 days is disrupted, 2) Maybe it was hurting my body to do so much BOF (breath of fire) and stretch pose.
Examine through your daily journal – what is going on with your body physically.
(See Some of the reasons why keeping a yoga journal is an effective tool in the book Keep the Change).
Then perhaps injuries can be avoided by either modifying or reducing times or having to change to another meditation or kriya. Don’t be so ingrained in the performance that you miss what is going on.
Here are a few things to watch for while practicing as well.
Being fatigued, emotions of anger, your body is tight that day or it’s really flexible, soreness, joint pain or headaches. All signs to Stop and consider.
My main lessons from this, I think, are to listen to what my body was telling me, which for me was fatigue, and that letting go is perfectly ok no matter if I was on day 2 or 32 of my 40 days.
Today I can begin something new!
Sanskrit tapasyā , literally "produced by heat", refers to a personal endeavor of discipline, undertaken to achieve a goal.
Vedic scripture tells us that producing heat (tapa) or the fire that burns within - will bring insight to our soul. This heat can begin with Japa , a repetition of a mantra with or without repetition of any spiritual discipline, such as yoga postures and meditations. Your desire thermometer is regulated by japa. The wish to change or become closer to your soul is either hot or cold or somewhere in between. This temperature is the heat that can be translated to energy undertaken to achieve whatever goal you have chosen.
The repetition or japa will begin to mold thoughts, actions and awareness. The changes begin incrementally over time as we replace poor judgment with smart choices, harmful habits with constructive ones, reaction with action.
The earliest discussions of tapas, and compound words from the root tap (Sanskrit: तप) relate to the heat necessary for biological birth. Its conceptual origin is traced to the natural wait, motherly warmth and physical "brooding" provided by birds such as a hen upon her eggs - a process that is essential to hatching and birth; the Vedic scholars used mother nature's example to explain and extend this concept to hatching of knowledge and spiritual rebirth.
By doing and repeating everyday your spiritual heat – the friction within the body like the friction between sticks and stone produces the fire to dissolve and burn the negative. Within 40 days – the mind embodies new thoughts and awareness and if sitting for 11 minutes, systems in the body begin a metamorphous.
In the yogic tradition it is the fire that burns within that is needed for the student/disciple to achieve the very difficult goal of enlightenment, to foster self-control, one mindedness and focus, simplicity, wisdom, integrity.