Tools for Detoxifying

yoga twist detoxThis past week, I completed a wonderful detox diet that I discovered in Yoga Journal several years ago. Because the reference is difficult to locate on the web nowadays and I have had so many requests, I will link it here as I address this week’s subject of detoxification.

Tool #1: Diet

Scott Blossom, practitioner of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and yoga has developed an effective and balanced cleansing diet that I have tried numerous times over the years. It was originally presented as part of a Fall Detox program. Since summer is officially winding down, now is the perfect opportunity to share some of his recipes with you.

Continue reading “Tools for Detoxifying”

Meditation: Steps to Being Successful

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Have you ever heard someone say, “I meditate for an hour each day”? You may think to yourself, “Wow! I wish I could do that!” or “Hmm, that sounds boring.” But you’re most likely thinking, “How can they do that?”

Emptying the mind isn’t easy. Attaining a true state of meditation Continue reading “Meditation: Steps to Being Successful”

Putting the Kibosh on Kyphosis

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My quest for August will be to explore the teachings of Viniyoga. Over the years, I have found this particular style of yoga attractive because it represents the way yoga can serve as therapy. The method stems from the teachings of T. Krishnamacharya, T.K.V. Desikachar and, more recently, Gary Kraftsow. In a nutshell, Viniyoga “tweaks” the traditional poses in order to address specific ailments. Foremost, it works closely with the breath by presenting the poses in a vinyasa (or flow-like) manner.

Below, I have provided a short posture sequence for reducing upper back tension and/or the curvature disorder called kyphosis. Unfortunately, we are seeing this condition occuring more and more frequently with the increase in computer and cell phone usage. Left unattended, this posture bias can adversely affect breathing and other system functions. Continue reading “Putting the Kibosh on Kyphosis”

Building a Steady Home Yoga Practice

yoga-682326__340After July’s Yoga Practice Challenge, I have fallen back into the meditation habit and it has done wonders! Once I complete my 6 minutes or so of daily breath work and meditation, I find that I have more energy and motivation to move onto whatever the day has in store. In addition, I have tried to incorporate one healthy observance into each week to enhance this vitality. If you haven’t been following along, check out the posts from last month to see what you have missed. To make things easy, I’ve provided audio recordings for you to follow along.

Since this monthly map for a daily meditation/pranyama practice was so successful for me, I plan to keep going. Each week this coming month, I will be introducing a new meditation or breathing technique. Our Monday Meditation series starts tomorrow!

Furthermore, and to expand the commitment, I will soon be introducing Friday Focus – my weekly objective for adding interest and freshness back into my own personal posture practice.

As a yoga teacher, I try to practice the postures daily but it doesn’t always work out that way. And why? Because I seldom have a set plan. Sometimes I will work with an audio recording, sometimes I will rehearse what I am teaching for the week, and sometimes I just resort to a standard sun salutation routine. What I truly need is creative, fresh motivation to get, joyfully, on my mat. If this is something you’ve been craving – join me. And, if you don’t have a personal yoga practice, that’s even better – this could be your start.

Looking forward to an amazing August!

 

 

 

Daily Yoga Practice Week #4

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It’s amazing how just 6-8 minutes of breathing/meditating per day can change your entire system.

This week, I reviewed my average resting heart rate (this is why I purchased and wear a Fit Bit). It was no surprise that I found it to be significantly lower over these past two weeks. I am pretty certain that this can be attributed to my daily breathing/meditation routine and the fact that I am drinking more water. Taking in 6-8 glasses of water each day has been a difficult challenge. I have never been a big water drinker. But, the endeavor has had such dramatic and immediate effects on my overall health that I am sticking with it. My skin is less dry, I am digesting foods more easily and my mental state has been especially peaceful.

So now, I’m on to the final week of my July Challenge. This week’s plan will be similar to last week’s with the addition of a technique I am calling, “Enjoy the Stillness”.

Week #4’s Breathing & Meditation Practice:

1.) Centering (Sacred Space, Invocation & Resurrection Breath).

I’ll be focusing on the niyama santosha (or contentment).

2.) Sipping Breath (we covered this on week #1).

3.) EEEE Mantra (we covered this on week #2).

4.) Neti Neti Neti (introduced last week).

5.) Enjoy the Stillness – merely remain in the moment and see what surfaces.

Starting this week, I will also be adding an evening ritual called tarka.

What’s tarka, you ask?

Tarka is the practice of self-reflection. It’s to be done at the end of each day.

Before sleeping, preform the resurrection breath (see above) and sit/lie quietly with your eyes closed. Take a few moments to review what has been meaningful, unusual, or challenging in your day. In general, consider what you have learned about yourself.

Tip:  Formalize your tarka practice by setting up a spiritual journal. Record your observations each week – Sundays are good reflection days for me. Practicing with ahimsa and satya, be honest with yourself. What have been your greatest challenges and how have you handled them? 

Have a blessed week!

 

Daily Yoga Practice Week #3

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Another week and the habit of a daily yoga practice is setting in – with pleasure!  I am enjoying getting reacquainted with myself through meditation and pranayama. Doing it first thing each morning truly sets the tone. And, if I don’t do my asana practice until later, it still provides the commitment I need to keep on track. My attitude is brighter and I have more incentive to make it a great day.

This week, I’m bringing back the Chandra Dhauti Shat Kriya or Tongue Cleansing. Shat Kriyas are important purification techniques that keep the subtle energy levels flowing. When implemented, the absorption of oxygen is increased so that a deeper awareness can be generated. The tongue cleansing is a simple and productive first step towards subtle body purification. If you would like to discover more about this process, click here.

Ultimately, purifying the body is dependent on the amount and type of food you consume. In general, I try to eat moderately. A little of everything is my motto.

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When shopping, I look for foods without pesticides, herbicides, hormones, additives, or preservatives and select locally grown or organic produce whenever possible. Personally, I find that when I limit the amount of alcohol, sugar and caffeine in my diet, I have a clearer perspective and a more satisfying yoga practice.

Week #3 of the meditation/pranayama practice is a continuation of last week with the addition of a new technique. Here’s the plan:

1.) Centering (Sacred Space, Invocation & Resurrection Breath).

I’ll be focusing on the yama satya (or non-lying).

2.) Sipping Breath (we covered this on week #1).

3.) EEEE Mantra (introduced last week).

4.) Neti Neti Neti technique:

  • Close your eyes, focus on something meaningful & be still.
  • When your mental focus shifts to other streams of thought, chant silently: Neti, Neti, Neti (or “I am not that thought”).
  • Maintain the technique for 2 minutes.

Tip: Practicing Neti, Neti, Neti over time will lead you to a more meditative state – if you stay diligent. Keep bringing yourself back to the object of your meditation and, eventually, the mind will find that it is easier to stay focused than it is to continually migrate back to thinking other thoughts.

I wish you a joyful practice week!

Daily Yoga Practice Week #2

meditation-2307812__340I started my journey back to a full yoga practice last week. It was a little difficult getting to my mat each morning before the traditional tea or coffee “kick start” but, as I stated in my last post, putting meditation/breathing as the first order of business is the best way for me to seal the habit.

So, it was wonderful. I spent about 6 minutes doing the prescribed practice before heading into my usual 20-30 minute asana session. I found that the breathing and meditation helped me to delve deeper into my hatha yoga. Overall, my practice felt stronger and more effective. 

This week, my plan is to try to drink more water and get more sleep. 6-8 glasses and 6-8 hours should be a good goal.

If you are wanting to take the Daily Yoga challenge with me, here’s this week’s plan:

1.) Centering (Sacred Space, Invocation & Resurrection Breath).

I’ll be focusing on the niyama shaucha (or purification) which should connect well with the increases in water and sleep!

2.) Sipping Breath (we covered this last week).

3.) EEEE Mantra:

  • Inhale quickly though your open mouth.
  • Exhale while chanting aloud a strong and persistent EEEEEE sound while smiling.
  • Keep the sound strong, try not to waver and end decisively.
  • Hold the breath as long as comfortable then rest.

Repeat 2 more times

4.) Be Still (2-3 minutes)

If you’d like a guide, here’s my audio version of the sequence:

Be sure to follow this practice with either a Hatha Yoga class/practice or some other form of exercise that you may be currently doing. Again, this segment doesn’t have to happen every day.

My Tip:  If you are having trouble remembering the techniques/sequences, try recording the instructions on your phone (use the Voice Memos App) or computer like I have. Simply use my links to the directions and record the cues that will keep you on track.

Shanti Friends!