YOLY Challenge #39: Join Spring’s Balancing Act

Today we mark the the occasion of the spring equinox. A distinctive time of year when the length of day and the length of night become equal. Along with the autumnal equinox – it is the only period when we reach a point of true balance.balancing-rock-1273567__340

This is an auspicious time for tuning in to your surroundings. Think of it as an opportunity to become more modulated with nature.

Listening to the new bird songs of spring this past week has already set the stage for me.

It’s the perfect time to do some “garden meditating” or maybe a restorative posture on the patio. Even if your climate isn’t ideal right now, try to spend some time outside today to take advantage of this portal and attune to the harmony of nature.

If this is your first visit to the site and you would like to begin the Year of Living Yogically Challenge – start here!

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YOLY Challenge #33: Get Clean

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When I chose to focus on purification as a theme for my classes and the blog this month, I really had no idea that the word February (in Latin februare) meant “to make pure.”

Perfect!

Now, what do I mean by purification?

In general, I view purification as a method for letting go of the old and unnecessary to allow space for nourishing breath, clean food, and new energy. Purification is a way to rid the body of irritation, congestion and toxins so that you can regenerate.
We have transitioned from our month of restoring, resting and reflecting in January. Now is the time for replenishing and energizing.

Here is your challenge this week. Get started on the road to freshening up with these daily practices:

Clean up your diet

Try to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol and any extreme aspect of food intake. Drink clean water, green tea and take in more vegetables and fruit in your diet. This is not a cleanse but an awareness exercise. Try this for one week if you can and evaluate your energy level on day 7.

In my experience with caffeine withdrawal, it only takes a few days to transition. I went to an organic water processed decaf and feel that I have more energy than ever before! I hope to use this opportunity to transfer my morning cup to tea – the cleansing qualities of tea would be much more beneficial.

Clear the Mind

Start a Meditation Practice. Keep it simple and find a technique that invites you to your mat each day. Meditation can be done at any time so choose a segment of your day when you will have no interruptions. Last week, I posted the Hong-Sau technique. Its simplicity will be enlightening.

Filter Your Toxins

Incorporate a twist into each yoga practice this week. The Supine Revolved Belly Pose will serve to squeeze out the unwanted toxins and provide room for fresh nutrients and oxygen to enter the body.

If you are looking for additional ways to purify this month, the Shat Kriyas or yogic purification techniques might be appropriate. You may have heard of Jala Neti (nasal cleansing) and Chandra Dhauti (tongue cleansing). These are important methods for vanquishing toxins and clearing energy channels.

And finally, some purifying food for thought on the practice of yoga from this translation of an ancient Sutra of Patanjali:

“Effective practice of yoga produces physical purity so that attachments to toxins and corruptive forces disappear naturally…allowing both internal and external purity (saucha) of the body, psychic environment… through the removal of the occlusions of consciousness, there is achieved balance, cheerfulness, one-pointedness, harmony of the senses, and yogic vision. Here one is no longer attracted by corruptive influences because one has established (and is happily rooted within) an inner energetic freedom.”
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YOLY Challenge #32: Breathing in the Moment

When I began exploring a meditation practice some years ago, I found it difficult to remain present at first.  Who hasn’t?  Luckily there are a myriad of techniques available for generating awareness. And, through trial and error, it’s possible to discover a method that speaks to you. In the end, a meditation practice should give you energy, enthusiasm, peace and joy.

That’s what the Hong Sau Kriya technique has given me.  Hopefully you will attune to it as well. Here is the process and some tips:

What is it?

Hong Sau Kriya is a form of meditative breathing.  The practice is simple – you mentally chant Hong as you inhale and Sau as you exhale. When the breath is still, the chanting stops. As your breath elongates, so does the word.

The word Hong is pronounced like “hong kong” & Sau like the word “saw”. Its meaning is simple and profound: Hong= I am  Sau=spirit.

Kriya means action or movement.

How Should I Practice?

Although Hong Sau Kriya can be practiced anywhere and at anytime, it may be best to set up a regular schedule to get the most of its regenerative benefits. So, a quiet place in an upright seated position with no distractions is ideal.  If you already have a meditation practice, then place this technique at the end of your session so that once the mantra fades, you can sit quietly and enjoy the stillness.

Your Challenge this Week:

Try to practice the Hong-Sau Kriya technique for a few minutes daily. Keep it a passive process by allowing the breath to breathe you. The less effort you put into it, the more you will enjoy it. The more you enjoy it, the more it will become a habit you look forward to doing.

The most important quality of a practice such as Hong-Sau is its effectiveness.  Not the technique itself but the outcome. When you approach it with positiveness and joy, it will bring you serenity.

For your reference, here is a lovely story written by Goswami Kriyananda that explains the essence of Hong-Sau in greater detail: 

“In Sanskrit, the word Hamsa (Hong-Sau) means wild gander, and has great symbolic significance. No matter how far the wild gander flies, at some point it remembers, and migrates back to its home, always at the proper season. birds-216827__340In the same way, we as spiritual beings following a spiritual principle must, like the wild gander, remember, and migrate back to our spiritual home. The spiritual home is the inward state of Samadhi. The Hong-Sau Kriya meditation is a key technique whereby you return to the spiritual home.”

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Friday Focus: Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep” is an ancient yoga practice that can be described as a combination of meditation and mind-body therapy. It is actually defined as the state between sleeping and waking. A true session can take more than one hour. The intention is to bring about a reduction in stress and better sleep.

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It is also psychologically cleansing and can evoke a deep sense of joy and contentment. In the words of Richard Miller, “it awakens a seventh sense that allows us to feel no separation, only wholeness, tranquility, and well-being.”

The audio practice that I have included for this Friday Focus is a modified yoga nidra or deep savasana – similar to what we experienced in class this week. It allows you to look at your body, part by part, as you descend into a state of total relaxation.  The particular recording that I have created takes approximately 20 minutes. To produce the track, I have relied on my faint expertise with the Apple App Garage Band.  Hopefully, it comes across as I intended, a soothing method by which to release into the present moment.

Namaste friends.

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