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

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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

Confucius Quote on Teaching and Learning

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We all learn differently, some of us are Audio learners, while others are Visual or kinesthetic [tactile learning].  I am one of those that really do learn from involvement. This quote really resonated with me last weekend and it’s really stuck with me throughout the entire week. This is not untrue of me learning new yoga asanas either.

Lessons in Life Sometimes Bring Gratitude

I’m on cloud nine and have been this whole weekend for a change of pace. This weather and some changes at work had me feeling really down and out, additionally it left me in a negative head space. Most people who know me well would be surprised that with the gloomy weather outside, to find me in such an upbeat mood today.

I’m feeling such joy, gratitude, love and warmth in my heart. The kindness of strangers can go a long way my friends in cheering someone up. My family was distraught when one of our little chihuahua’s escaped unbeknownst to us. Possibly when a contractor came to work on mom’s kitchen remodel. The temperatures dropped where my family lives, and they couldn’t find our Chi – Steven. After a few days had passed, and fliers had been put up, they still couldn’t locate him, and were beginning to lose hope.

We were worried that due to old age and cold temps, that he had frozen to death somewhere out there, in the pale moonlight. Mom was upset and in trying to make her feel better I mentioned how perhaps since he is really quite old maybe it was his time, and maybe just maybe he wanted to just be alone and not be a burden on us. He has led a long life lovely after all at 15 human years I reminded her.

I continued on with what I hoped was comforting words and went on to say, Now he can run across the rainbow bridge in the sky with his brother Greedo, [another chi we had that passed away a few years back] and they can have all their fill of dog bones, pig ears and “greenies” to their hearts content. Mom laughed and I could tell she felt better. I was so relieved. She does not handle down trodden times well. We spoke for a while more and once I was certain she would be okay we disconnected the line.

When I reached home I lost myself in painting, art through meditation. I chanted a sloka [mantra]. Gayatri, that which saves, brought us back our little furry family member. I learned first hand how  Gayatri mantra are very powerful meditation aids.

A  few days later came our Happy Ending. My heart is absolutely brimming with love and appreciation. I’m grateful and it’s because there really are still good people out there in the world. Some young girls down the street found Steven and returned him home to my family. My family has such gratitude that Steven was found.

My yogaverse:

[aka life in my universe]

Life doesn’t always have happy endings, many things happen so our souls can understand. So we can take in what we needed to learn from these situations. Even if we could wave a magic wand and change things, they would only change back until our souls understood what it is that we needed to learn and experience in this life.

In this latest life lesson, it brought gratitude, hope, contentment, and love. Along with all that, the gentle reminder that as above mentioned, there really are still good people in this world.

“Ribbon Lotus”: Art through meditation, depicting gratitude and love

Zen Tea Quote

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh (via japanese-zen)

buddah tree teapot

I happen to listen to an interview today with Thich Nhat Hanh, and thought this a fitting quote. Especially since I am currently drinking a cuppa tea, from my lovely yixying buddah’s in a tree clay teapot.  I am one of those who savor my cuppa. It’s nice to slow down sometimes, and allow ourselves to recharge. To soak up newly gained wisdom, or just ponder. I find comfort and solace in the Gayatri mantra I sing myself tonight.

A New year, and A New You!

2012 has gone and left us. We have passed the milestone marker of the longest day of the year. I can’t tell you how glad I am about that last one. The cold, dreary, and dark mornings make for “Ugh, I am too tired, and don’t want to get up Asana”. Now its a time for the returning light of the upcoming year, to illuminate us and guide us through the times to come. We are well into 2013, whether we want it to be or not. The new year often brings about reflections and resolutions. As time marches us forward, we reminisce, and we contemplate.  We reflect memories past to  learn from our mistakes. It’s a time count our blessings and not our worries. We set an intention to become our best selves possible each year. To be true and authentic. To evolve into the most amazing version of ourselves we can be.

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Reflecting on the most recent holidays passed, I’m sure a fair portion of us may have fallen off the healthy bandwagon onto the sugary horse or even into the lack of motivation saddle. Whether its been due to either the colder weather, lack of sunlight, or holiday spreads, the new year provides us the perfect motivation for change. The time to detox or begin a new healthy habit! The simplest of detox’s could be getting back into your yoga practice, and leaving out all those tasty but sinful if you will items we need to detox from. Drinks and foods such as alcohol, sugar, caffeine, fried foods, and processed foods.

Looking out the window at this wintry weather, as we move closer to the shift, where the days become longer, it will become even that much easier with each passing day. Why not take the first steps to a new, healthy you in this new year. If you are looking for a detox plan with a bit more to oomph it, I recommend you check out this plan put together by the lovely Esther.

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Don’t beat your self up if a plan you pick seems like a lot. Just take things slow, take baby steps and you’ll get to where you want to be, and on the path you envision yourself on. Some days are admittedly easier than others. Don’t beat your self up about it if you have a day where you have to repeat a day of your detox plan or yoga practice. Maybe your like me and somehow twist your back the wrong way at the office and have to take a week off to heal before you can pick up your regular practice. Just accept things for what they are. This transformative journey of our lives includes acceptance for who we are, it’s part of the reward. Don’t do something you’re not comfortable with but at the same time know its okay to gently challenge ourselves a little.

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Don’t feel discouraged in your practice, just put on your favorite yoga pants of transformation and all will fall into place. Remind yourself there’s no such thing as a perfect pose, rest when you need to. It’s okay to make adjustments and do modified poses. Instead of giving up yoga completely due to injury, I made a new adjusted plan in the interim. Like the ocean, I decided to move gently like the  ebb and flow of the tides. I decided to follow a somatics therapy practice to aid in healing my back, and alleviate me from the awful back pain and muscle spasms. Sometimes pain and sickness I find serves as a reminder of how important ones health is both physically and mentally. How we really have to take care of ourselves.

Sometimes small changes and adjustments in our lives can be a good thing. I found my self so slow-moving in the am due to pain and extreme tiredness, but didn’t want to give up a practice in the am while I had to rush out the door on time for work. I adjusted, went with the flow and did a short am practice and a longer practice after reaching home from the office. I found that the extra restorative motions have tremendously put me on a path toward a quicker paced recovery.

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Some day’s are harder than others. I can’t deny it, it’s not always easy, but there are lessons to be had in everything and its important for me to remember that. I am living in the present moment today.  I feel like a new person today after this mornings practice and the newly discovered self myofascial release / trigger point therapy. Today I am happy there was sunshine on my face streaming in through the window. I am glad to be alive. Today I find myself focusing on life, love, happiness, and peace. I feel inspired and motivated. I have lots to be thankful and appreciative for. I am generally healthy and these recent back issues serve as both a reminder of how important ones health is, and not to let such challenges force me to give up. With consciousness in your heart, repeat to your self I can do this!

 

 

Image Sources:

http://inwardoffice.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Secondary2.png

http://tv.naturalnews.com/v.asp?v=99C007ABC0A057775E88ADE8D0DEBE88

http://www.eastwestyoga.com/images/styles/therapy_flyer.jpg

http://res.mindbodygreen.com/img/ftr/yoga-lord-dance-sunset.jpg

http://res.mindbodygreen.com/img/ftr/yoga-lord-dance-sunset.jpg

Christmas Shubhashayagalu

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Shub Christu Jayanti , no matter how you say it, I want to wish you and your families all Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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According to Norad Tracker Santa has already made his way about 1/2 around the world. He’s a busy guy. I’ve watched my two all time favorite holiday films “Miracle on 34th street [the original version from 1947] and The Nutcracker Ballet. I’ve planned out tomorrow’s menu which for those who are curious will consist of veg biryani, kesari bath, and paliya or samosa.

We are anticipating a white Christmas after all. Christmas will be low key in my house. Morning yoga, a cup of hot cocoa, a few gifts will be exchanged over Skype video chats with family around the world. Things are a little different than in the past, however its nice to still recognize the holiday and even start new traditions.

I must close for now, its time for a round of yoga. I gotta keep that depression at bay. So I ask you dear ones:

How will you celebrate?

What are some of your specific annual holiday traditions?

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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

31 days of Giving: Donating to Chartity Instead of Christmas Presents

Better late than never! I meant to get this post prepared and published on the 1st of December. Obviously that did not happen so I will say it again better late than never, especially when giving is involved.

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This year when my husband asked me “What do you want for Christmas? I don’t know what to get you“. I told him to save his money and that he didn’t need to buy me anything. I don’t need anything really. I’ve been feeling the call to give back, somehow someway.  I started researching charities to donate to and in case you too are feeling in the spirit of giving, I have complied a list to help make it easier. These are ones that simply stood out to me at the time of research. Since there are 31 days in the month of December, that’s how I picked my magic number of charities to share. Not all items cost you monetary units and some are even gifts that give back. When you buy gifts for your family and friends the money goes back into the related program. This list is by no means the end all be all, so if you know of a charity out there worth adding or have an idea, please comment below.

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31 Days of Giving

  1. Operation Christmas Child – Touch the lives of Philippine children living in dire conditions by creating a shoebox filled with goodies and items of need for a boy or girl.
  2. Jaipur Foot – Rehabilitates the physically challenged by providing alritifical limbs to the beneficiaries free of charge.
  3. Face Aids – Give life-saving meds to an HIV-positive pregnant woman in Rwanda. Vital drugs to help prevent transmission of the virus to her baby.
  4. Save a Pet – Save a cat or dog from a from a high-kill shelter, provide them vet care and medicine so that they can become adopted.
  5. Pencils of Promise – Sends one child to a new school in a developing country who would not be able to attend school otherwise.
  6. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – Donate your old cell phone to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence  which will refurbish and sell it, then use the proceeds to get survivors back on their feet.
  7. A Message From The Heart – Send a Teddy Bear to a deployed child of a marine with a voice message recorded by the parent that will play when the paw is pressed.
  8. Drive to End Hunger – Picks up the grocery tab for a senior who is struggling to put food on their table.
  9. Embrace – Protect newborns in India and keep nine babies alive with a genius incubator like invention.
  10. Fight Breast Cancer – Help women get free mammograms.
  11. Fender Music Foundation – Give a guitar to a struggling music program.
  12. Princess Project – Donate your old formal gowns so a teenage girl can have a dress and go to her prom.
  13. Heart of Haiti Give gifts that give back: Heart of  Haiti gifts from Macy’s provide steady work for many Haitians.
  14. The Water Project – Provide access to safe, clean, sanitary water for African villagers.
  15. Reading Village – Help pay school fees for rural team leaders teaching younger children to read in order to break the cycle of poverty.
  16. Clean the Air – Defends our breathing supply from polluters. Dirty air can cause asthma attacks, take a stand against proposals that can weaker then Environmental Protection Agency.
  17. Unicef  – Give gifts that give back: Shop for a cause and help children in need. Improve their lives, provide health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.
  18. Volunteer Match -Make a difference in your own zipcode and be matched with with ways to improve your own neighborhood, such as working at a food bank, clowning around with seniors or coaching a girls’ soccer team.
  19. Vital Voices -Supports Egyptian women who have fought hard for change, and provides them a voice in their country’s future.
  20. Toms Give gifts that give back: Toms offers two options. 1)Prevent blindness. Buy Toms Sunglasses ($135 and up) and give someone in Asia sight-saving treatment. 2)Toms Shoes will give every child in need a pair of shoes for every pair you purchase.
  21. Global Literacy Project – Pass along your favorite books [yes even ones like twilight] to deprived youth, helping them learn to read.
  22. CauseOn – Similar to LivingSocial and Groupon, Causeon offer’s up daily deals, however it also contributes 20% of its revenue from those deals to a charitable cause.
  23. Equality Now – Put sexual abusers behind bars! Guarantee the rights of women and girls. Helps provide legal support, counseling and job training to victims pursuing cases against their assailants around the world
  24. KrochetKids – Keep women in Uganda working and educated when you purchase a cute crotchet hat for $35 or less!
  25. Afghan Institute of Learning – provide two Afghan girls to take computer lessons for six months.
  26. Stand for the Silent – Stop bullying. This Program addresses the issue of school bullying with an engaging, factual, and emotional methodology.
  27. Conservation – Preserve our Oceans, save them from overfishing and pollution.
  28. Artists for Peace and Justice – Pay a students bus fare. Donation will help a child from the slums of Haiti to a new school for two months.
  29. Give an Hour -Buy a counseling session for a soldier returning home after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
  30. Care for a Chimp – Care for a chimp orphaned or harmed by hunters or pet sellers. A small donation buys food and care.
  31. Women for Women – Help women in war torn countries start a business. Your donation buys a sewing kit for a woman so she can earn a living as a tailor.

kids-give-back-charity

I am throwing a few bonus ones in here just for the heck of it, and also in case any of the above links become overwhelmed you’ll still have sites to choose from because giving and making a difference in someone’s life really does mean that much to me.

  1. Causeon – 20% of the site’s proceeds go to a variety of charities in your community. You can get coupons to
  2. Greenbelt Movement – Aid a women while stopping deforestation, donation pays a gal in Kenya to plant a tree.
  3. Why Hunger – Put a salad on a kids plate. Your donation will help needy kids grow produce, both for their family’s fridge and to sell at farmers’ markets.
  4. Career Gear – Empower men who are low-income to overcome barriers and achieve self-sufficiency. The charity provides them a suit, access to a Job Readiness Program, a Professional Development Series and MAST, a mentoring program.
  5. Memorial Scholarship Foundation – Open the doors of opportunity to a young person in pursuit of higher education.
  6.  JustGiveGive gifts that give back: and the site offers an advanced search and information on nearly 1.8 million charities.

People-Donate-To-Charity-After-Life-Changing-Moments-Study

Sources:
http://www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/2011/11/donating-to-charity-31-days-of-giving
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-wm4G_iCpk7A/TwkiJNuu4bI/AAAAAAAADlg/zvvkVVZXJMI/s1600/philanthropy3.jpg
http://www.thefatlossninja.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/donate-charity-spending-dime-200X200.jpg
http://cdn.mommyish.com/files/2011/12/kids-give-back-charity.jpg
http://www.asianscientist.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/People-Donate-To-Charity-After-Life-Changing-Moments-Study.jpg