May 06, 2013

Spring Rituals

Finally it seems we are entering into spring.  This is a time of great renewal and that includes your yoga practice.  Spring is a wonderful time to re-energize your practice with some time-honored techniques.  Many of these techniques help to cleanse the body of the sluggishness of winter, much like spring cleaning your house.  Try these simple yet effective techniques to clean your energetic house and let that fresh air of spring in.

1) BREATHE:  The stale air within our houses and indoor spaces takes its toll on our bodies.  Now that the weather is turning warmer get outside and do some deep breathing.  If you can’t go outside sit by an open window to practice this pranayama technique.
Sit comfortable and close eyes.  Rest hands on belly.  Breathe in through nose until belly is fully extended then hold that breath in for a second or two. Slowly exhale until you feel the belly contract…try to push out the last bit of breath.  Take two normal breaths in between and then do the extended breath again.  Repeat up to 5 times.  This will help to wake up the lungs, the nervous system and will give you increased energy.

2) MOVE:  Get moving with a more energized yoga practice.  Spring is a time to get the cobwebs out of the body and re-awaken the fluid, youthful you. If you take one class a week, spring is a great time to bump this up.  You will definitely notice major advances when you practice more often.  If that’s not possible, this is a wonderful time to start a daily home practice, especially one that starts your day.  Remember that you don’t need to do a whole hour class to benefit.  A couple of significant poses every morning help to jump start the body and balance the mind.  Good ones to start your day are Sun Salutations (or half suns), Triangle pose, Cobra pose, and Tree pose.

3) MEDITATE :Don’t worry…you don’t need to dedicate much time to this either, just a few minutes (perhaps after your asanas) dedicated to sitting quietly and perhaps envisioning the beautiful day you are lucky enough to enter into….  It can really change how your day rolls out.

4) PRACTICE RANDOM KINDNESS:  Even when you are at your most grumpy, try being kind and considerate to others.  You will find it changes your negative energy to positive, and in the meantime sends wonderful vibrations into the universe.  Imagine that with every kind act or thought another flower blooms somewhere!

5) DETOX WITH DIET: Fasting is one way to cleanse the digestive system but it’s not for everyone.  If you want to try it, this is an easy one as posted by Elson Hass, author of The New Detox Diet.  “For starters, try a simple three-day liquid fast. “After three days, your energy starts to free itself,” says Haas. Take in only liquids: juices, vegetable broths, and teas as well as at least 8 to 10 glasses of spring or filtered water a day (2 of them when you wake up). Herbal teas made with slippery elm bark, dandelion, milk thistle, and licorice root will cleanse your digestive system and your liver. You can make fresh juices from fruits and veggies and add a little spirulina for extra flavor and amino acids. Take advantage of the natural inclination to slow down by going for long walks, meditating, taking naps, and writing in a journal. After your fast is done, start by eating whole grains and steamed vegetables.”  If you feel fasting is not for you, try just lightening up.  Dr. Deepak Chopra, a noted Ayurvedic M.D.  recommends reducing dairy products, and eating foods that are more pungent, bitter and astringent rather that sweet, sour or salty.
Regardless of how you welcome Spring, enjoy the ritual of renewal.  Celebrating rituals is an important part of our feeling connected to the earth and one another.
Happy Spring!

January 14, 2013

New Year Affirmation

Several of you have asked for this in print.  Here you go!

New Year Affirmation
I enter the New Year with the understanding that I am making a fresh start. I begin by discarding thoughts, attitudes, and habits that are not compatible with an excellent life.  I let go of whatever caused past discouragement, disappointment, or disagreement. I am open and receptive to new ideas, activities and relationships.

Each day, I can follow a fresh plan of fulfillment. I act on divine ideas that I receive in moments of meditation and inspiration. These ideas flow through positive thoughts. As I use creative thinking to build upon divine ideas, my activities become more dynamic and my abilities are enhanced. Therefore, I enter this New Year with optimism, joy and enthusiasm.

January 02, 2013

Affirmations for 2013

In Yoga class we usually start by setting a intention for our practice.  As the new year rings in it's a time to set longer intentions,  goals or affirmations.  Here's some tips to help your affirmations be more effective.  
Happy New Year!

Think about things in your life you want to improve. The best way to create affirmations is to consider areas of your life that you would like to improve.  Would you like to practice more yoga ?  Do you want to have a closer relationship with your mother, brother or sister?  Would you like to feel better about your self image?  Spend some time thinking about areas of improvement and jot them down.  Be clear about your goals and this will help in making them a reality.

Keep your affirmations focused and believable. Based on the list that you have written, choose what you want now.  Be clear with yourself.  It is even more important to keep your affirmation believable… don’t set yourself up for failure.  So, instead of saying “I want to lose 10, 20, 30lbs.,” you are better off saying “I am on my way to a more healthy body by losing weight and exercising regularly.”  Essentially, it is important to draw a line between your wants and your feelings.  You want to lose a certain amount of weight, but this want stems from the desire to feel better about yourself.  The feeling is the focus.

Always state your affirmations in the present tense. Tell your mind that your desire is actually already the reality.  If you use words like “I will” or “I am going to,” then what you are really doing is postponing the attainment of your goal.  If your affirmation is your reality, well then, you are already accomplishing it!  “I have a loving relationship with my mother” is much more positive for your mind than to say you will have this type of a relationship with mom.  By saying you will, you give yourself the opportunity to postpone that difficult first step with her.  Tell yourself you already have this positive relationship with mom, and you are already halfway there to achieving it.  Our minds are incredible gifts that have the power to make our goals a reality.

Always keep your affirmations brief and simple. Formulate your affirmations in your own language, speak to yourself the way you speak all the time.  Don’t use long sentences or big words because this only counteracts the ability to remember them… and repeat them.

Repeat them daily and say them out loud. Preferably in front of the mirror.  You will be shocked at how awkward you feel when doing this the first few times… but DO IT!  It forces you to believe in yourself! And it's worth a giggle or two ;-)

Write them down. And refer to them often.  It’s also a great idea to keep them in a visible place… in your office, or taped on the bathroom mirror or your closet door.

Remember you can never make an affirmation for another person. As much as we might want to make positive statements about another person in the hopes of changing them to fit our expectations, we must learn, immediately, that we can never change another human being.  We only have control to change ourselves.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Let go of your expectations. ...of yourself and others.  Life can get in the way of life…it can get in the way of our affirmations.  Trying to control everything that happens in your lives will not bring us closer to attaining our goals or affirmations any sooner.  In fact, it might actually hinder you.  If you are constantly focused on a particular obstacle or occurrence that goes against your affirmations, you will surely lose focus.  Stay open, be free and accept what life brings to us, even its’ challenges.  This way you are able to continue to focus on what IS positive in your life.  And affirmations are ALWAYS positive!