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!

YOLY Challenge #50: Open to Receptivity

For the month of June, which is traditionally the month of love, we will get to the “heart” of what matters, our Self.

But first we need to open the door to receptivity.
doorway-981803__340To be receptive is to accept a signal, an idea or even another person into your life. For receptivity to occur, it is imperative that your heart and mind be open. This ability to see things differently requires flexibility. Not everyone is amenable or disposed to receiving what others have to share. Therefore, in order to fully receive, you may have to give up something that you already possess.

This is especially fitting for yogis who want to prepare and purify themselves to receive the teachings of yoga. Releasing your subjectivity, blockages and negativity will give you space for a lifestyle that is happier, healthier and compassionate or love-filled.

At this point in our Year of Living Yogically, we know that there is more to the system of yoga than the postures themselves. Time and again, the posts refer back to the Eight Limb System of yoga which includes:

  1. Yamas (restraints)
  2. Niyamas (observances)
  3. Asanas (postures)
  4. Pranayama (breathing)
  5. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal)
  6. Dharana (concentration)
  7. Dhyana (meditation)
  8. Samadhi (contemplation)

Maybe you have already incorporated some of these techniques into your own practice.

This week your challenge will be to review the eight steps and find the area(s) that you feel need enriching. Simply use the Topic bar on the right to click on the category you would like to read more about. Understanding each step in the eight-fold system will help you become more conscious of your true nature.

We have two weeks left in this journey. The next challenges will be the icing on the cake that will, hopefully, feed you for many years to come.

Namasté friends!

If you would like to start at the beginning of this year-long challenge please click here.

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YOLY Challenge #42: Don’t Super Size It!

hamburger-19264__340When you hunger for something, you want it, you need it, in fact you may not be able to function without it.  Your mind becomes attached to that “thing”. You may think that you want it with all your heart, but you really want it with all your intellect.  Your mind is the possessor here, not your eyes nor your ears. In the end, this can make you scattered, obsessed, and completely unaware that others may be affected by your desires.

Through yoga, we can address this attachment, this extreme possessiveness, with the concept of aparigraha. Aparigraha is the 5th yama or abstinence in the 8 fold path of yoga.  For a review click here.

In sanskrit, the word aparigraha is broken down into graha = to take/grab, pari=all sides & a=against. So, aparigraha means “against taking all” or non-greed.

But it’s not just about hamburgers. We can certainly have attachments to physical things but we can also be possessive on an intellectual or verbal level.

This week’s Year of Living Yogically challenge is to find freedom through non-attachment.

Here are some basic methods for practicing non-attachment or aparigraha:

Practice Yoga Joyfully – Practice what you love.  Be honest about what you need from your practice.  Don’t overdo and strive for poses that you feel you should do because you would be “less” without attaining them.

Simplify – Only possess what you need.  Some objects such as excess clothing, gadgets for the home and collections are only cluttering your space and take up time to maintain.  Go through a closet or even a drawer and begin to discard.

Listen – Be open to what others have to share.  Pay attention that you don’t talk too much and hoard conversation.

Eat Less – Use your own judgment here.  It isn’t about dieting.  Its about consuming. As you fill your plate, take a bit less than you normally would.  If you are still hungry after a few minutes, take a little extra.  Be more objective about how much you eat.

Let Go – This is more intellectual than physical.  Allow your mind to give up and relax once in awhile.  Remember, if there is one thing we can count on it’s change.  Give yourself permission to flow down the river without grabbing onto the logs that block the current.

When we practice non-attachment, we are learning to clear the mind so that the act of possessiveness does not occlude our life force. We can (and should) still enjoy “things” in life.  But, not to the detriment of others or at the risk of becoming unbalanced.

In the end, non-attachment opens the way to freedom for the soul.

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Spell Out Your Truth

The fifth chakra Vissuddha focuses on the area of the throat – the place for communicating your truth.

To look further at communication, we can consider the ethical quality of the yama known as truthfulness. The yamas (and niyamas) are the first step in the 8-fold path that is yoga.  As a moral principle, truthfulness or satya, as it is called in Sanskrit, asks us to convey truth responsibly.  Like the other yamas, we should consider truthfulness in thought, speech and action.  That includes the manner in which we listen. To be true and clear in communication is to really hear what someone is saying.

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To draw out your truthfulness or balance your throat chakra, try some of the following techniques:

  • Sing, dance or read poetry out loud – express yourself with one of these creative methods
  • Write – although it’s not the spoken word, it is an act of communication
  • Try Chamomile tea or essential oil – a natural remedy for sore throats, its relaxing effects release tension
  • Meditate or marinate under the clear blue sky – blue is the color of this chakra
  • Ask for what you want

…we should progressively embrace what is real for us, so that we may find health and harmony. As you go deeper into yoga, remember that you are doing this study in order to remember yourself, to come home to all of you…  – Rolf Gates

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