Peace with the Past, Present, and Future – Guest Post

Sometimes the best yoga stories are the simplest to share. This beautifully short story on the peace that a student last Fall found in yoga shows the impact of yoga in all areas of our life….past, present, and future.

Taking yoga this past Fall I have learned not only how to better myself physically, but mentally as well. Ever since I was young, I was obsessed with my weight. This stemmed from my childhood, and how my mother started putting me on diets when I was about seven or eight. With the help of meditation that I learned in yoga, I learned how to ease some of the worries I have about my weight, and how to accept myself as a person despite having a few extra pounds. I plan on using meditation in the future and whenever I need to find peace.

I also learned some great ways to deal with stress and anger. I have always had a short temper; however, with the help of some breathing techniques that I have learned from this yoga course, I can practice healthy ways of dealing with it. I also use yoga breathing for when I am babysitting my nephews. The calming nature of Ocean Breathing lulls them to sleep and lets them rest easy. I plan on using these breathing techniques in the future all throughout my daily life.

Have a yoga story you’d like to share?

Contact me to do a Guest Post of your own.

Meditation Monday #54 – A Prayer for Jeannie

I’ve been heavy in the heart of late. A good friend of mine and neighbor has been battling Stage 4 Lung Cancer for over a year now. She is currently in the hospital and they don’t know what made her sick enough to enter the hospital, how to fix it, and if she’ll make it home ever again.

My usual nature and pulling on my Yoga teachings tells me to be accepting of life and the challenges that come with it. My normal instinct when someone of Jeannie’s age ends up facing the eternal is that we look at the wonderful life she’s had and empathetically look for a way to see this as a blessing to end the pain. However, just a week before she entered the hospital we were chatting in her living room and she was making plans for a trip. She has been battling fatigue and some pain, but perhaps more than she’s let on. Now, three weeks later, when I saw her in the hospital the other day she said she has accepted that she may die soon. My heart broke and I told her not to lose hope and to believe that miracles can still happen.

My heart strings pulled and I reminder her of a beautiful story she told me of her own mother. Jeannie’s mother had gone in for a flu shot and slumped over in the waiting room. She ended up in the hospital in a coma and on life support. After 90 days Jeannie was asked to take her mother off of life support. She asked the doctor’s for one more day to make arrangements and say good-bye. The next day she came in and her mother opened her eyes and pulled out her trach tube and went on to live for 2.5 good years. I am usually a realist, but I also believe in miracles. I believe that people are watching over me and all of us. This surrender to some bigger connection to the universe around me is part of the yoga practices of Isvara-pranidhana.

I want to believe that Jeannie will pull through and have a few more great years left. I want to know that this person I care about and love in my life will not leave us in this way. I am unready to face the fact that for the first time my children may lose someone who they are close to. They have been sheltered from that kind of loss thus far. And so, I turn again to yoga for guidance, hope, and healing.

One of my favorite yogis is Deva Premal and she shared this mantra on her Facebook page last April:

Om Shree Dhanvantre Namaha (Healing)

Salutations to the being and power of the Celestial Healer.

This mantra helps us find the right path to healing, or directs us to the right health practitioner. In India it is also commonly chanted during cooking in order for the food to be charged with healing vibrations – either to prevent disease or assist in healing for those who are sick.

This mantra can be chanted for any situation that one would like to be healed or remedied. Good to remember and be open to the path of healing not necessarily looking the way we expect it! Dhanvantari is the celestial healer/physician – the patron saint of Ayurveda.

Jeannie needs healing from some divine power and I need to remember to be open to the path of healing my heart in whatever may come. So, today in my mediation practice, I will be using this mantra for her and for me. I will chant it out loud so that the reverberations of my words may travel to her and out into the universe for her. I will say it in my heart and my head so that I too can feel healed. This is my way of praying and may it connect us both in this world and all others to come.

Namaste.

 

Meditation Monday #53 – My Own Kind of Beautiful

Let me first start by telling you that last night did NOT go as planned. My flight out of Augusta never happened and I had to be shuttled up to Charlotte to catch the late flight. Such is travel….

Second, I am completely voiceless today. This is what lecturing with an allergy situation will get you. And finally, let me note that it’s been more than a year since I last posted an official Meditation Monday post…..when I completed my 108 Sun Salutations! Life was much different for me then and that brings me to….

Affirmations, aka the topic of today’s Meditation Monday post. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #53 – My Own Kind of Beautiful”

Wellness Wednesday #7 – Changing My Mind

I haven’t been as successful as I had hoped with posting weekly Wellness Wednesday posts, but I feel like I have been better about reflecting upon these elements of wellness. When last we “talked” we were discussing Feelings. Today I chose to combat some of my negative attitudes and emotions toward chiropractors and I went to one to have my shoulder evaluated. If you follow my training on Map My Run you will have seen many posts this past week about my shoulder clicking and popping. I may have an injury, but… Continue reading “Wellness Wednesday #7 – Changing My Mind”

Meditation Monday #51 – Impromptu Meditations

Last Thursday my youngest didn’t want to go to school….it’s preschool and to some people that doesn’t “really” matter. However, I have to go to work on the days that he goes to school. I specifically scheduled work while he was in school so that I don’t have to have childcare any more. I also pay for his preschool and it’s not cheap. At preschool he’s learning A LOT of important lessons and by making him go to school (even when he doesn’t want to), I’m trying to teach him another lesson: sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.

On Thursdays I usually workout after I am done teaching. Sun salutations or swimming are the norm, but this Thursday I had another matter to deal with: parking ticket. I went to the parking office and appealed my ticket. I won. It was a good day. This left me some extra time before the little guy was done with school. Because he hadn’t wanted to go in the first place I had promised I would pick him up early. Once I arrived at his school I thought about the importance of two things: keeping my promise and his need to be in school the full time. I opted to pick him up only slightly early (I’m usually one of the last parents to arrive for pick-up) to meet both.

So, I took a seat on the bench outside the school. It was a nice day and no one was around. I sat in Sukhasana (easy pose), closed my eyes, turned my face up to the sun, and started an impromptu meditation. I haven’t spent enough time meditating lately. I’ve done a lot of journal writing, which has been good for my soul, but is not the same thing as meditating. I decided that day that I needed to just listen to the world around me and within me.

In general I recommend that you have a focus for meditation before beginning. However, I know the need for impromptu meditation is strong; especially in the world we live in today. So, I encourage you to take the time today to be in the moment. Give yourself the present of impromptu meditation…..maybe even this minute. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and listen. Listen to the sounds around you (or lack there of) and be aware of your present surroundings. Listen to the voices in your head (don’t think about them, but hear them passing through). Listen to your body and all the things you ignore that are both good and bad. And, if like me, allow yourself to smile or cry or both.

Life is tough for me these days….hence the reason I stepped away from the blog mostly. However, life is also life and being alive is good. Impromptu meditation reminded me that warm sun, the sound of garbage trucks/traffic flowing by, and the ability to breathe freely are all great things in life because it’s life itself.

Happy Monday! You’re alive!

Please feel free to share your impromptu meditation moments or any other thoughts in the comments section below.

Meditation Monday #45 – Tapas: The Spirit of Inquiry

Gray Mondays seem to be a theme in my life. This one is being caused by the outskirts of Irma. Irma means goddess of war or noble and will likely be a retired name on the Hurricane List after this year. Her spirit will live in infamy.

What about your spirit?

Spirit is a hard topic to wrap one’s head around sometimes. Sometimes we put spirit in the same basket as soul and other times it’s attitude. Some people believe they have a spirit animal (I guess T would say mine is the gazelle). I remember our nanny telling our youngest that he was her spirit animal when he suggested that they bake cupcakes after her car had been broken in to.

I picked back up the Gates book today and read Day 77 about Tapas in which he defines it as “the spirit of inquiry”. And I journaled

“having the heart of an explorer” Gates writes about tapas. My mental health and the desire for it keeps pushing me forward to learn more in life. It’s part of this final month of My Best Body Happiness Project. It’s about a “willingness to work hard” and in my physical health, in my eating changes, I work hard without developing hardened and steadfast rules. Rather I work hard to achieve this feeling of “honestly knowing myself”, my successes and my limits. I don’t know that I have the “desire for spiritual health” the way that my grandmother does; the way that some of my friends express; and even how a a few of my students do, but I know more and more each day about what I stand for and still seek “to know more”.

So, what about you? Are you practicing Tapas?

What is your heart’s desire?

Your drive?

Your spirit?

Meditation Monday #40 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Annamaya)

Welcome to another rainy Monday at the beach. Do you know I haven’t taken my kids to the beach at all this summer? How terrible is that?! Last summer our beach days were play dates and there were many of them, but this summer our beach buddy is also my running buddy and play dates have been of a different nature. *Sadness*

Alright, enough about the rain….today I’m here to talk to you about meditation again. Why? Because it’s something that I’m making a priority in my life these days. Over the weekend I was in Asheville teaching the NETA PT Review Workshop to a great group of people at the Woodfin YMCA. They were wonderful to hang with and chat with and to work with. I love it when I have great weekends away like that!

I had intended to go and scout the 8K course for the race this fall after I got done teaching on Saturday, but it was raining….and I had left my car windows open….and my lunch from Whole Foods was disappointing. I had also missed breakfast and hadn’t drank hardly anything all day. I think the run would’ve sucked if I had attempted it.

Instead I chose to go back to my creepy hotel (don’t stay off of Tunnel Road) and work on the Inclusivity Training and some NETA writing. I experienced some seriously great meditation practices in this course that I cannot wait to share with you! And that motivated me to start back up with the How to Meditate series again today.

So now, after that seriously unnecessary introduction to this post, I want to talk to you about Koshas….which is not a slang way of talking about Jewish foods or pickles. Koshas are the five layers or sheaths of the body; the outermost of which is called Annamaya or the “Food Layer”.

First off, this has nothing to do with the food you’ll eat (we’ll talk about that layer later), but rather with the fact that we all must die someday and (if buried) eventually become food for the earth and other creatures on it. We liken these layers to nesting dolls with each successively deeper layer representing a deeper part of the self. However, unlike nesting dolls, the layers cannot be separated.

Annamaya is most often cared for where people start their yoga practice….with Asana (postural practice). Both Asana and Annamaya deal with the muscles, the bones, the flesh. Consider your Annamaya layer and ask these questions from Rebecca Pacheco’s book:

  • What physical experiences nourish me?
  • When am I most comfortable in my skin?

For me the obvious answer for both is exercise. But, during meditation I often find more.

When am I most comfortable in my body? When I’m taking care of it. And that includes eating well, getting enough sleep, making time to move and rest. Not just exercise, but when I’m playing with my kids and when I’m not thinking about the body and all the ways in which I’ve judged it in the past.

What physical experiences nourish me? The little things like putting lotion on, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth with a new toothbrush, drinking warm tea, wrapping up in a cozy blanket, hugging my children, snuggling close to my husband, holding his hand, laughing with friends.

My Happiness Project is all about my body and I started with health and now I’m working on eating (again), but I am not neglecting the Annamaya layer in this process. Perhaps you should give your Annamaya layer a little more attention this week?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on/response to the questions posed above.

Meditation Monday #39 – Training

Welcome to Monday afternoon! For many of you tomorrow is the big American holiday in which we celebrate our forefathers’ declaration of independence from a tyrant ruler. For others of us it is an excuse to get drunk and eat grilled food while ignoring the fact that you didn’t put on any sunscreen and are wearing a flag. Still, for others of us it is an opportunity for reflection on what it means to be an American. I plan to do some of that last one especially with all that has been in the news of late.

Since last week I have been working slowly through two trainings that are helping me with my meditation goals. The first is an Inclusivity Training offered by AIM Healthy U and Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts. It is a yoga training to help me better discover the ways in which I have privilege, power, and bias in my teaching; and how to turn that into more inclusive yoga teaching. I’m a little more than halfway through the course and hope to do a full evaluation when I am finished, but one greatest things I’ve written down from this course is:

No matter how your body gets there; you’re still doing the yoga

I am also doing a Wellness Training in preparation for teaching this fall. I plan to write a lot more about that in the coming weeks. For this week I have set three action goals:

  • Do something active every day (I have successfully been active for 13 days straight including a run this morning)
  • Meditate 3x/week (I’ve been doing a lot of meditating and self reflection with these two courses)
  • Play a game or go for a bike ride with my kids at least once per week (we did a bike ride last week and I need to spend more time in play in my life)

All of this has fed into the work I did last week in the Meditations from the Mat book with Tapas and discipline. To create discipline is to create health the reading told me, but it also makes you feel like you’re going backwards. You mourn the things you lose during change, even if you want to lose them. Each of these three goals, by completing these two trainings, by just doing the yoga….I am creating a structure of health in my life. This, along with my slow food changes, are leading me to the point where I feel like I in the moment of allowing true self to emerge and burn brightly. I am leaving behind so much more than I could write about in one post.

Next week I hope to get back to writing about the How to Meditate series, but before then I ask you….

What are you changing in your life?

How are you creating discipline: health?

What will you never have again if not this life you once knew?

Meditation Monday #37 – How to Meditate: The 5 Kleshas

Ugh! What a weekend! I arrived home….to my house….around 4am and got the minimum 3 hours of sleep before my day started as usual. This is one trip that I’m not all that excited to write about. Instead I’ve decided to leave it in the past and move right back into Meditation Monday!

How is meditation going for you these days? Mine is a little strained. I started thinking about how hard meditation can be for some people. For some it’s the sitting still, for others the quiet, for yet others the being alone with their thoughts that gets them. If you read back to the first four posts on How to Meditate you learn a lot about how easy it can be to start small. But, what happens when we’ve been working at it for awhile and we can’t seem to find the answers we’re seeking?

In the last few segments of this series we’ve talked about the Four Aims of Life, but there’s something that can get in the way of understanding and living your path and that is a Klesha. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #37 – How to Meditate: The 5 Kleshas”

Meditation Monday #36 – How to Meditate: The Four Aims of Life (Moksha)

It’s Monday again and it’s raining. Raining because it’s spring and spring flowers need rain. Raining because it’s April and April showers bring May flowers. Raining because it was very dry and my rain barrels were empty. Raining and spring bring about changes and I have a lot of them to write about…..but I’m saving that for later. Today I want to end our discussion on the Four Aims of Life. Previously I have written about duty, prosperity, and pleasure. Today we’re going to talk about Moksha: Freedom. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #36 – How to Meditate: The Four Aims of Life (Moksha)”