Never Force a Pose

Today’s wisdom is that wherever you end up in a pose [Asana] is exactly right for you. No forcing, just being. Never force your body into a position that causes pain. Our bodies all move differently because of how our bones are connected. One person may be able to do full Virasana aka Hero Pose [sitting between the feet] while others may need a variation [sitting on their feet, a cushion or blocks] because of ankle or knee pain. I know it can be hard to be content, and you’ll want to do some of those amazing poses full on, but your body’s wellness is more important.

You will still be able to experience tremendous shifts in your body, mind, and heart while focusing on your safety and wellbeing. Never force a pose, or else you can cause yourself an unnecessary injury. Be humble, explore the boundaries, and see what your body can do. Move with care, have gratitude, and maintain and appreciation of all it can do for you. You can thank your body by taking care of it in return.

 

Urdhva Dhanurasana

Urdhva Dhanurasana by AndysArtworks.etsy.com 

 

 

5 Things Yoga Has Taught Me On My Journey

Yoga continually teaches me new things, about myself, about life, and the world around me. This is just one of the many reasons I like it so much. I like to reflect on how far I’ve come, see what I have learned over time from these experiences, and observe what new knowledge I have gained along the way.

Buddha

Byodo-In Temple , located in Valley of the Temples. Oahu Hawaii.

A few things Yoga has taught me.

1. Honor your body
Don’t push your self too far past that edge. Its okay to push your self a little, but if you go to far past that boundary you can injure yourself. Your body will subtly let you know how far is too far. Its all about being mindful and listening to what your body has to tell you.

2. Let go of things that no longer serve you
This can be anything. It doesn’t have to be a physical object, although cleaning out that closet stuffed to the gills can feel cathartic. It can even something invisible such as anger. Every minute you spend angry, you give up 60 seconds of peace. Get rid of what you don’t need, physically and metaphysically.

3. Breathe
We often forget all the benefits of breath. Aside from the fact that we need it to live, there are other benefits to the breath. It grounds us, and forces us to be in the present when we focus on it. It can help us overcome obstacles, think of  lamaze breathing when a woman is in labor. I’ve even been able to get through what could otherwise have been a painful experience at doctor appointments, dental appointments, or even those few body piercings or tattoos just by focusing on my breath.

The breath is more powerful than you think, and there are even many types of “breaths” out there. To name a few in case you are curious, look up bhastrika, pranayama, Ujjayi, Shitali, Agni-Prasana, 3-breath practice, and 2-breath practice. I’m sure there’s others out there, in the vast yogic system. I’m always curious to learn and discover more. Feel free to comment if there’s any you want to share with me. 🙂 Our breath balances us and additionally helps us balance. I find this latter especially true when I focus on my breath and or a fixed point in those difficult poses where sometimes only one limb is touching the ground. Our breath fosters healing and allows us to extend our vital life force. Everything always comes back to the breath.

4. Be present and okay with it
Be present. Live in the here and now. Stop worrying about the future and the what-if’s. Don’t live in the past, and don’t dwell on the I should of’s. If you have trouble focusing on the present, your breath can guide you. Live in the present moment,  and be content with it. Live like there is no tomorrow, be at peace, and be happy in that state. When you try to control everything, or worry about the future or the past, you won’t be able enjoy what’s right in front of you. Relax, breathe, let go and enjoy the present moment. Even life can subtly remind us to be present. For me the winter weather reminds me to turn inward, slow down, and make time for myself. Be like the Buddha on his lotus leaf  under the bodhi tree living in the present moment.

5. You can achieve more than you think
Believe in your self. Sometimes we have to take risks in order to achieve our goals. Sure its scary, and may not be easy but no one ever said life was. We all have dreams, goals, hopes, wishes, and aspirations. Stop making excuses on why you can’t do them, and take baby steps to get there. We can all do more than we think, if we test our limits.

I wasn’t sure I could ever do crow pose, but knew I wanted to be able to “fly”. I was a little apprehensive but I didn’t let my fear stop me. Sure I fell on my head a few times in the learning phases, but as I discovered even someone who is a very seasoned yogi can have an off day and fall in an asana [pose] they have been practicing for years. We don’t always see everyone’s mistakes but we all make them. Eventually we end up where we are supposed to be and can achieve things we never thought possible.

Quote Of The Day

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

-Roald Dahl

magic

 

This posts inspiration came from a situation last week in my life.  I found myself re-watching a Harry Potter film, and trying to explain the magic of the series to Mr S. I thought it fitting to share a magical quote. Even if he didn’t like the series as much as I do, they will always be magical films for me. This quote reminds me to look upon the world as if it’s the first time I am seeing something with the awe and inspiration that we feel when we visit somewhere new, or experience something new. Never give up hope, always believe.

Image Source
http://www.internetmonk.com/wp-content/uploads/magic-book-zodiac-signs-1440×900.jpg

Happy Mother’s Day!!

It’s Mothers Day here in the United States. So with that I dedicate this post, and today’s yoga practice, to my own Mother, and Mother in Law.

Our mothers and grandmothers have handed on the creative spark to us, their children. Today I honor the nurturing spirit of the mothers in my life, with an Apache blessing and wish that you have an absolutely lovely mothers day.

May the sun bring you new energy by day,
may the moon softly restore you by night,
may the rain wash away your worries,
may the breeze blow new strength into your being,
May you walk gently through the world and know it’s beauty all the days of your life.

indiamothersday

My own Momma and my Amma [Mother in Law] have touched my life in positive ways. Today, I honor them. They have comforted me, encouraged responsibility, and embraced my unique expression. I show my gratitude by sharing my own innate nurturing spirit with others. Thank You, for your infinite love that is moving through every soul. I am so grateful.

indiamothersday2

Wishing you infinite blessings on your path.

Love and Light,
RC

Symptoms Of Inner Peace

new Preface update 9.29.13

As of Sept 29, 2013 It was brought to my attention that my original post “12 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening” was something that apparently someone out there on the interwebs re-named. It happens as people share on social media sites like facebook etc… and not notate the piece’s origination. Then the cycle continues on since newcomers have no idea who to credit either. Anyway, apparently they took this info from author Saskia Davis’s poster. They also changed the title from “Symptoms Of Inner Peace ” to “12 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening”. Some people out there don’t always take the time to properly credit an author’s original work. I am someone who always tries to give credit where credit is due, and have therefore included this paragraph with links to Saskia’s site. I have posted both versions so you can compare. You can see the subtle nuances or differences that can happen over time. Think of that game, telephone we played as kids where the original statement changes over time. Each person the statement is whispered to is can change bit by bit from the original.

This is what her lovely poster looks like:

symptoms-4

[12 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening]

The below was originally posted on Dec 16, 2012.

As someone on a path to spiritual enlightenment, I happen to come across this lovely gem:

  1. An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
  2. Frequent attacks of smiling.
  3. Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
  4. frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
  6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
  7. A loss of ability to worry.
  8. A loss of interest in conflict.
  9. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  10. A loss of interest in judging others.
  11. A loss of interesting in judging self.
  12. Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything.

Spiritual-Awakening4

Yogaverse:

My next statement is not meant to disrespect the author in any way, or discredit her time and efforts in her endeavors. Its more of me just talking to myself if you will, since this is a blog of honesty in my journey. Where I track my thoughts, my progress, my areas of opportunity, my fails or shortcomings, or even my successes. They are all things I [we] learn from in life. My thoughts eat at me and I’d regret not writing out my feelings. If I didn’t say that for me I personally felt like the title “12 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening” resonated more with me than “Symptoms Of Inner Peace” title does. I feel like I wouldn’t be my true authentic self if I didn’t note that when or if I reminisced on this post again in the future.

It was something that has been eating at me and I’ve been losing sleep over. I realized in order to continue on a path of inner peace, and spiritual enlightenment that I had to write my feelings down. Put the pen to paper. Perhaps it resonates with me because I feel like I am on more of a spiritual journey than a peace journey at this time, although it’s certainly worth noting you need one to have the other. Perhaps it’s also because that was the title I have been used to. Nevertheless the key to take away from all this is that they are great mantras and statements to live by no matter how you feel, and to remember to give credit where credit is due.

Again no disrespect mean to Saskia.

Sources:
http://acelebrationofwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Spiritual-Awakening4.jpg

Wishing All A Happy Thanksgiving

May the good things in life be yours in abundance not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.

Sources
http://imperfectwomen.com/happy-thanksgiving-from-imperfect-women/

An Encouraging Quote

Being disabled doesn’t have to be a disadvantage.

 

Oscar Pistorius made history as the first double amputee to run at the Olympics.

 

Image Source:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/aug/04/oscar-pistorius-400m-heat-olympics

Autumnal Equinox

Yogaverse…Life and what not…

Mixing it up a bit this time by starting out with life first to explain my unplanned absence, and then onward and upward to yoga! Everyone’s favorite prominent topic in this blog.

Yogaverse

Recently was the first day of the fall season, and she has made her self apparent, at least here in New England anyway.  The squirrels are gathering acorns, and the leaves are either falling off the trees to crunch under our feet, or creating vibrant colors for us to enjoy.

Time to gather acorn’s!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I started writing this post awhile ago,  but just haven’t been able to bring my self to finish it. I’ve been in and out of a little funk, and found it really hard to do much of anything actually. To be honest, this unfortunate lack of motivation, most likely is stemming from a combination of long work days, tiredness, family issues, change in season / weather rut [lots of rain and overcast weather], allergies, and at one point even PMS.  I’ve had a few days where I started the day off in a good mood, but then things turned sour for what ever reason.

Feeling blue

I at least feel more grounded today but otherwise I haven’t felt like I’ve had much to look forward to, not like I usually would if my circumstances were different [read living back in my home town]. I’m feeling an immense homesickness, and feel like I lost a part of myself by moving here. Sometimes we make sacrifices for a number of reasons, I did knowingly and consciously I wasn’t tricked by any means. It can be hard to make the best of it, but I’m trying…even if I don’t like it here. I tell my self things could be worse and I am thankful they are not. Sometimes these sacrifices are a necessary means to get ahead in this life, nay this world.

So back to this business of feeling dejected or “down in the dumps”  as they say. I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to do any sort of writing, blogging, email or otherwise. I’ve been feeling the need to turn inward, and by inward I mean spending time in my head, reading, listening to music [kirtan / sacred chanting / sound healing/ambient & nature soundscapes…. If your curious for music examples I’d be happy to share.]

I’m pushing hard and really digging deep. I am forcing myself to sit here and write this. Its important that I keep track of my life, my feelings  and my progress, so here I sit on a crisp autumn evening playing catch up…

Fall in New England

To fight against this funk in September, I am proud to say that I kept up with the national yoga month offerings from Ekhart Yoga. The classes were really great to be honest, and gave me something to look forward to everyday. I would excitedly wake up and practice the asanas before having to rush out the door to sit in traffic for 1.5 hours to drive 8 miles to work. Now that’s some noteworthy New England traffic!

Things aren’t all bad I suppose. I have at least been productive in the kitchen and produced some tasty concoctions. I made several  things from scratch, Vegetarian Shepard’s pie, pumpkin spice lattes, kesari bath, pumpkin butterscotch scones, pongal, samosa’s, pudina bath, banana bread and I’m sure a few other things I’m forgetting about. Now I’ve never been a horrible cook, [not trying to toot my own horn if you will but never had any complaints when I cook or bake. I’ve even had special requests or was given praise] but the points is I always feel we can improve our selves in one way or another. I am glad to say that with practice and determination I can often even just throw things together like I watched my mum do when I was a wee one and wished that I could one day do the same. Progress, all in the name of making progress.

Indian Spices

I suppose that with age and knowledge that time finally came with in the last few years and I never really took the time to properly acknowledge that. I digress, the back story is that I guess I was always too busy with work and school. For several yrs I was going to school full time and working 50 hour weeks if you can believe it. Hard work, hard hard work can really pay off, and I don’t mean necessarily myself but for us all. I was determined to put my self thru school, but I still had to work. I’ll tell you all a secret, and I really hope I don’t sound like a nutter. This is something I’ve never really put out there but I am being honest here, so here goes nothing [or something rather]…Some how by the grace of guruji, on that guru poornima back in 2007 when were were told we could make one wish…I made my wish to become successful  [let me first clarify that by successful I don’t mean rich, but I mean partially with knowledge in terms of at least a BS degree, but also possessing the ability to put food on my table, and a roof over my head, to be a least some what financially stable] and promised that I was willing to work hard and make sacrifices to get there. I think I was granted that. Sticking with honesty, the road was not paved, it was bumpy, it was difficult. I ran into several potholes even, at one point I lost my job and almost my home, but eventually I found two part time jobs and ran myself ragged in order to complete college which I did back in 2011. Somehow I even managed to get straight A’s and end up graduating with distinction [Honors / Summa Cum Laude].

In turn for my wish Guruji told me “be a guru to someone else“. I really wanted to give back, and do just that. I thought how can I when I am quite remote and far from people… So I sat and had a think. I believe in paying it forward, I have access to the internet and a penchant for writing, thus this blog was born. I created this blog with the sincere hope that one day my words would reach an audience who could benefit from them or share them with someone who could. I’d hate for any one to have to suffer in life and go thru all the things I have been thru. That’s another conversation for another time.

Guruji – Sri Sri Ravi Shanker

Circling back to food, since that’s what I was talking on before ADD got the best of me…  I am forcing myself to be social and attend a pot luck being thrown by a co-worker for the “peoples of India” clique if you will at the office. They invited along me along as an “honorary Indian”, since I’m practically an Indian [ Kannidiga ] anyway according to them. I’ll drag the Mr. with me, and even cook a dish or two to bring along.

Yoga!

Yogawise, after practicing yoga for so many years now some I’ve made progress in the form of receiving the guidance from teachers. I wasn’t ignoring it before so I don’t want that to be what my words are conveying, but instead it makes more sense now. Things just “click”, I’ve had a few “a-ha moments” and I can actually do what they are describing. These suggestions are an integral part of a practice I feel but unfortunately not all teachers provide this. I’ll give and example in just a moment so you can further understand what I mean, but first want to say the rest of my thought before it disappears which is that unless you practice yoga on a somewhat consistent basis, the gentle steering from your beloved teacher or guru will most likely not make as much sense which is what happened to me anyway. It’s like the saying “practice  makes perfect”.  For me it’s the continued repetition of poses, even after all these years, that added guidance from a guru makes a difference and deepens my practice. I’m not an expert by any means, and not a yoga snob so I am okay being humble and admitting that there is always more to learn. Even though I can do more intermediate and even a few advanced poses I still feel that the knowledge one gains come through to us in a life long learning process. Even poses [asanas] such that can be found in a beginner classes / flow/ routine such as Utthita Trikonasana [Extended Triangle Pose] that can be in some instances deceptively easy for some,  can still offer us knowledge through our practice and repetition.

Utthita Trikonasana – Extended Triangle pose

Now as an example  [I bet you wondered when I was finally going to get to that] in the asanaUtthita Trikonasana if you don’t take into account the guidance directing one to make such small adjustments such as move your right hip or left hip back [depending which direction you are facing / and which leg leads], or move x hip out, or square the hips, elongate the trunk, draw the thighs up, to deepen the practice if you are flexible place your “x” hand on the outside of “x” leg if less flexible keep on the inside of “x” leg/foot or on “x” leg or “x” ankle, use a block, ground into the feet to come up…There’s different ones for different poses, but you get the drift. Some even carry over to many asanas, but its little adjustments like this than can make a difference between being in correct alignment and causing your self unnecessary pain. No matter how small they can seem, they really are not only helpful tips but key to proper alignment and posture.  These type of “tips” are therefore really worth taking into account, listening to, and performing the action. Not only does it really make a difference for the aforementioned physical reasons but additionally it will also help you deepen in your  practice by what can seem like leaps and bounds even from something as small as squaring your hips. You will feel like your making great strides, and soaring on cloud9.

Soaring on Cloud 9

Another key item [that I can not iterate enough]  in a practice is the  importance of listening to your body, no matter how long you have been practicing yoga.  As an example just because I can do Urdhva Dhanurasana [Wheel Pose], if I am experiencing back pain, I am going to hold off that asana in a practice and instead do a modification [a different asana]. This mindfulness happened recently to me as a matter of fact. During national yoga month [September] in the week that I was performing heart opening practices, on one or two days I was having some lower back pain. While the class was doing wheel pose, for the safety of my back that day I performed a modified Setu Bandha Sarvangasana [Bridge pose] and placed a yoga block directly under my sacrum for support.

setu bandha sarvangasana – Supported Bridge Pose with block

I know for some we don’t like to admit when we are in pain, or hate not being able to do certain poses at times, or sometimes if at all perhaps due to health conditions but trust me its better to listen to your body, your doctors and or teachers. Its okay to do modified poses, no one will think any less of you. they are too busy tuning into their own breath to care and are not there to judge you. if I saw someone performing modification, the first thoughts that come to my mind are: wow that person is being mindful, the are grounded and practicing with awareness. They are listening to their body and doing what is best for them. A good teacher will show modifications, if they don’t just ask and remind them. No need to feel embarrassed.

Anyway that’s about all I have to offer forth from my heart currently. I feel a bit better after sitting down and sharing my thoughts and progress. Thank you for listening, with an open heart I will leave you with a beautiful Apache blessing from an ombre colored birthday card I sent my Mum:

Image Sources:
http://www.yogajournal.com.au/wp-content/uploads/295×198-lift-on-up-7.jpg
http://derbyimages.woot.com/ramyb/On_Cloud_9-kxqj1m-d.jpg
http://img.surfing-waves.com/images/ex-triangle-posture.jpg
http://www.allaccessboston.com/blog/files/2010/10/Boston-Fall-Leaves-300×199.jpg
http://www.massvacation.com/fallfoliage/images/fall2012/animate/driving-squirrel.png
http://bawandinesh.name/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Guruji-on-Guru-Poornima-2010.jpg
http://www.aboutdepressionfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Am-I-Depressed-Quiz.jpg?9d7bd4
http://2.imimg.com/data2/XS/FC/IMFCP-2412716/indian-spices-250×250.jpg

Tea Quotes – on Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude brings you many opportunities.

 

If I find myself feeling blue, I try to remind myself what I am thankful for and why. I have a trick to help with this that I will share with you. Since feelings of depression can often consume us, what I do when I am feeling positive and in a good head space is to write these items down in a gratitude journal, or even just a notepad for that matter. Later on when I am feeling down or stuck, I can refer back to what I am truly grateful for. I can remind my self of any abundance the universe has sent my way.

Sources:
http://www.venitahawkins.com/gratitude.php