Taking the Middle Road

During this past week, I have been considering the concept of moderation. It is so easy to fall into habits and extremes – mostly when it comes to diet, sleep and work. Many of us choose to see things as black or white, yes or no, never or always, right or wrong, too much or not enough…the correlations are virtually endless with this idiom which makes it understandable and relatable in many situations. Deep awareness and dedication are required to keep steering ourselves toward that middle road.

I have taken my yoga practice in moderation this week by applying the principles of yin yoga. When doing my initial research for teaching many years ago, I stumbled across the term “Goldilocks principle” or “position” as defined by Bernie Clark. It means just as the storybook explains, not doing too much, nor doing too little. Yin yoga is a very good practice to hone the concept of moderation. It permits you to judge for yourself how deeply you would like to descend into a posture. It is good preparation for knowing the difference between “stressing” the body and “pushing” the body – keep in mind that stressing the connective tissue is the intention behind yin yoga. If you want to learn more about the theory behind the practice, click here.

In general, yoga has taught me that too much flexibility is just as damaging as too much strengthening – one can lead to instability and the other, rigidity. You need to practice with both principles in your sights in order to be healthy and balanced.

If you have never heard of yin yoga or are unfamiliar with the asanas of yoga in general, then consider the concept of moderation with other activities that you do on a regular basis. An interesting examination would be to measure how much you overload the senses with screen time. This is a very common way that we tend to unconsciously overdose ourselves.

The remedy to balance and get back on the middle road is to generate awareness. I find spending time walking outdoors to be the best treatment for avoiding extreme routines. Communing with nature is equalizing, centering and definitely gives me a wiser perspective. It allows me to think more openly – in technicolor, rather than merely black or white.

As promised, I am now using this blog to supplement my new book, Yoga Posts: Building a Steady Yoga Practice One Day at a Time. This week’s post refers back to Chapter #11: A Modicum of Moderation. If you wish to start at the beginning of our journey, please look to my first post.

Using Essential Oils for Yoga Practice – Part III: Focus

Today, I am continuing with a series I started back in October based on the use of essential oils for yoga practice. I have connected this usage to the more subtle aspect of yoga, the chakras or energy complex.

In the past, I have posted frequently on the concept of the chakric system. Many books and articles explain how each chakra can be balanced or pacified. There are seven chakra centers that follow the body from its base to its crown. If you are interested in learning more about the general chakra system, click here

We will proceed with the manipura or solar plexus chakra. It’s the third chakra and is located below the sternum and behind the stomach. This chakra balances our willpower, harmonizes our personality and motivates and focuses us as individuals. With characteristics of the fire element, it fuels ambition and confidence.

Within yoga there are many poses that can help an individual to discover the powerful quality of this chakra: Warrior I,I & III, Trikonasana (triangle), Vasisthasana (side plank) or Natarajasana (dancer’s pose).

Continue reading “Using Essential Oils for Yoga Practice – Part III: Focus”

The Simple Things in Life

What is your object of desire? What do wish you had that would make things so much better for you? More importantly, what do you already possess that you can learn to appreciate more?

Moving is always a good time for reevaluating your possessions. Do you really need #$@&%*! pairs of shoes? And, is it worth packing and unpacking all of those dishes and glasses and coffee mugs?

Continue reading “The Simple Things in Life”

Using Essential Oils for Yoga Practice – Part II: Energize

Lately I have been enjoying the benefits of essential oils in dozens of ways for my health and well-being. It seems only natural that I would start to incorporate the oils into my yoga routine. Today, I continue a series I started back in October based on the use of essential oils for yoga practice. I have connected this usage to the more subtle aspect of yoga, the chakras or energy complex. 

In the past, I have posted frequently on the concept of the chakric system. Many books and articles explain how each chakra can be balanced or pacified. There are seven chakra centers that follow the body from its base to its crown. If you are interested in learning more about the general chakra system, click here

We will continue this series with the svadhisthana or pelvic chakra. It’s the second chakra and is located at the level of the hips, sacrum, genitals and kidneys. This chakra balances our creativity and harmonizes our expressions and emotions. With characteristics of the water element, it relishes fluid motion.

Within yoga there are many poses that can help an individual to focus on the energizing quality of this chakra like Lunges, Cat/Cow pose, Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Navasana (boat pose), Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose) or Supta Baddha Konasana (supported bound angle pose).

Along with the postures, chakras can be influenced by the use of essential oils. When combined, the benefit for this subtle energy system can be incredible. As I discuss the particular oils associated with a specific chakra, I will refer to the Young Living essential oils that are found in the Premium Starter Kit (see below).

For the purposes of balancing the energy of our second chakra, I suggest the blend Citrus Fresh.

When I received this oil, I felt compelled to use it daily. It provides such renewal and aliveness. Citrus Fresh is one of those multipurpose oils; good for the body and household use (as a cleaner). Citrus Fresh is known to help with the appearance of healthier looking skin. I’ve also heard stories of how worthwhile it is for those who need to balance emotions, addictions and desires.

Since the second chakra is so closely associated with fluidity and taste, Citrus Fresh is the perfect complement. The blend is composed of a mixture of lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine and mandarin – literally all of the juicy citrus fruits! In addition, it contains spearmint oil to add minty coolness. Citrus Fresh can promote feelings of inspiration and encourage creativity – qualities that are definitely needed if you want to feel more energized and free-flowing. It has the capability to banish stagnation and remediate traumas associated with sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

I would begin by using this oil in a diffuser during your yoga practice. Inhaling its aroma is most effective and immediately uplifts. You can also apply the oil in a 1:1 dilution (using a carrier oil such as Jojoba) to the bottoms of your feet, ring finger or navel area. One word of caution, however, if you are applying any citrus oils to skin which will be exposed to the sun – they are photosensitive and contain compounds known as furanocoumarins which greatly increase UV sensitivity.

Once applied, try a few energizing poses like those mentioned in my post, Zest Things Up!

If you are new to essential oils and want to get started incorporating them into your yoga practice, you can register with Young Living here and get your Premium Starter Kit (which includes Citrus Fresh and all the other oils we will be discussing). Once you are enrolled, I will be connecting with you directly to provide reference sources and helpful advice. 

Flow with Feeling my friends!

Keep it Real

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Looking into someone’s eyes is as real as it gets. If you’ve ever been in deep love, staring into your partner’s eyes can be one of the most profound and genuine experiences. Likewise, a teacher or guru’s gleaming eye contact has the potential to communicate heartfelt devotion from across a room.

There are many examples of sayings and proverbs that refer to the eyes as the seat of sincerity:

The eyes have it.

The eyes are the windows to the soul.

Seeing eye to eye.

The eyes don’t lie.

So it seems that our eyes mirror our truth. On the contrary, what happens when we find it hard to be honest? Don’t we tend to avert our gaze? Or, how about those times when we try to pull the wool over someone’s eyes? Or, turn a blind eye?

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Using the Eight Limb System of Yoga to Construct a Personal Practice

As you build a personal yoga practice, it’s wise to start with a strong foundation. For this we can turn to the original structure of yoga. Its 8-limb system is arranged to give us a sturdy base upon which to build a dedicated practice.

For those of you who are unfamiliar or need a refresher, the original system of yoga is comprised of 8 different sections or parts: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. They translate from Sanskrit as: restraints, observances, postures, breathing, sense-withdrawal, concentration, meditation and contemplation.

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