Category Archives: Welcome to “My Better Day” Weekly Musings!

01
March

Daily Routine Supports a Healthy Life

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This is my fourth installment in a series of blogs I’m dedicating to the ancient sister science of Yoga—Ayurveda. Here are links to the first three in case you missed them:

The Science of Life: How to hone and own your best assets

Getting in Sync with nature

The Taste of Life

A very important aspect of an Ayurvedic lifestyle includes a daily routine (dinacharya). Do you notice when your routine is disrupted, you are more easily thrown off balance and more easily prone to stress? Then convincing you of the importance of a daily routine should be easy!

A daily routine is of utmost importance not just to maintain balance but also if you are looking to create change in your body, mind and soul. Kind of like meditating one day isn’t going to have a long-term effect, right?

Out of all the doshas, Vata is the one who is most resistant to change due to Vata’s “mobile” quality. (See the first blog in this series to determine your predominant dosha as well as which dosha might need some extra balance). Remember similarities aggravate and opposites sooth. So routine is especially important for Vata!

I should mention here that this mobile quality is involved in most, if not all, disease processes because it’s moving into various areas of the body. But that’s a huge topic on the stages of disease. It’s enough to say that if your dosha is predominantly Vata, it will be easier for you to be thrown off balance and thus invite various disorders into your system. So, again, routine is uber-important!

We talked a bit about the Ayurvedic clock two weeks ago. Following the clock helps with your daily rhythm, which aids digestion, quality sleep, regular bowel movements, and stress levels. Need I go on? We covered waking up early before the sun rises as well as best times to eat to aid digestion, suggested meditation times, best times and activities to go to sleep and have good sleep, etc. using the Ayurvedic clock. This is all part of your daily routine.

You probably already include at least a couple other of the most essential parts of a daily routine, like brushing your teeth, having a regular bowel movement, bathing, exercising, and wearing clean clothes. Notice that what you do habitually is easy to remember. So for the topics I cover here that aren’t part of your habitual routine, fit them in around those that are to get a rhythm while incorporating them into your life. Habits are great places to place new activities you want to include.

If you’re reading this, you may also have a regular meditation/mindfulness practice and/or yoga practice. See the blog series prior to this one on simple rituals to bring Spirit into your life if you’d like some suggestions on fitting mindfulness in. And, of course, I’m here to help if you’d like suggestions for creating your own daily home practice.

Scrape your tongue

So what’s left, you might ask? The first one I’ll cover may take a bit of getting used to; but trust me, once you’ve started doing it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner! It’s like flossing my teeth now. I don’t feel right if I don’t. Have problems with bad breath? All gone when you start scraping your tongue! Scraping the tongue also stimulates internal organs, aids your digestion, and—very functionally—removes dead bacteria (bad breath be gone!). Do this first thing in the morning before consuming anything else.

There is a whole system of tongue diagnosis in Ayurveda which is way too deep to cover here and I’m definitely still in the learning stages there! I’ll just mention that the tongue is a like a hologram for the bodily organs, similar to your ears, hands, and feet. You’re probably familiar with reflexology maps for these. Well the tongue is a “map” for the organs, the doshas (see the first blog in the series for more on doshas) as well as your digestive fire. Without getting too complicated, there’s even areas on your tongue that experience the six tastes we talked about last week.

Bottom-line? Scraping your tongue affects all of the above! So what are you waiting for? A stainless steel scraper is suitable for any dosha but love my copper scraper. I like the fact that copper “disinfects itself” because it’s bacteria-resistant. Copper also provides important enzymes needed for healthy microbes in the mouth to survive.

The scrapers are U-shaped. You take the “U” and gently place it on the back of the tongue and then scrape from back to front 5-10 times. I’ve read various numbers. And if you have a real problem with bad breath, you might want to scrape after every meal. I personally do this practice in the AM only.

Drink water

An easy one you don’t need an introduction to would be to drink a glass (or two) of room temperature water upon rising. And if you’re all in, letting the water sit in a pure copper cup the night before helps flush the system out (GI tract, kidneys etc.). Ayurveda doesn’t recommend addictive drinks like coffee or tea, but if you must have those, it’s suggested to wait an hour or more after the water. Full disclosure, I love my coffee.

Oil Swish

Holding oil in your mouth, or swishing the oil strengthens our teeth, gums and jaw. Vasant Lad, MASc says this practice also “improves the voice and removes wrinkles from the cheeks”. Warm sesame oil is commonly used but you can also get various combinations of oils. Banyan Botanicals has a combo of sesame, coconut and herbs.

Use 2-3 teaspoons of oil, gently swishing around, pulling the oil through the teeth for a few minutes (some say up to 20 minutes!). The longer you do the swish, the more benefits you experience. Remember my suggestion to do it around a habit? I’m reading that swishing as you shower might be a good time. Some texts suggest spitting the oil out in the trash vs. the sink to avoid drain clog—word to the wise. Vasant Lad, MASc also suggests doing this practice twice daily. I have yet to be consistent with this practice but I’m trying!

Nasal drops (Nasya)

A Nasya oil lubricates the nostrils. Doing this especially when you’re in a dry hotel room really helps! So if you have trouble doing this daily, try packing Nasya oil in your travel bag. You won’t regret it! I do a simpler version of using just a couple of drops of Nasya oil in my palm, dipping my little pinky in the oil and lubricating the inside tip of my nostrils.

In addition to lubricating our nostrils, which is enough for me, this practice cleans the sinuses, enhances the voice, and improves vision and mental clarity. “Our nose is the doorway to the brain, so nose drops nourish prana (life force energy) and unfold intelligence.” Source: The Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 3, by Vasant Lad, MASc

The full description, again if you’re all in, would involve lying on your back cushioning your shoulders so your head tilts back (perhaps hanging the head off the bed) and dropping 3-5 drops of warmed Nasya oil (Vasant Lad, MASc suggests warm ghee will also work) into each nostril.

There are some contraindications for this practice: It’s not meant for young children (although Cate Stillman’s Living Ayurveda 9-month training suggested doing the pinky dip I described above and even doing the same for the ear opening tip.) Pregnancy, menstruation, immediately after exercise, while intoxicated, on a full stomach, digestive issue like diarrhea or vomiting, fever, hypoglycemia and dehydration are also contraindicated. (Source: The Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 3, by Vasant Lad, MASc)

More oil to the head and body (Abhyanga)

This practice is one of my absolute favorites but remember, I’m a Vata dominant dosha so I have that “dry” quality. So “oily” is an opposite and very soothing. And I practice this after I shower vs. before as often recommended. I suspect many would prefer not dressing with oil on them to keep their clothes from getting oil. Oiling your body just before bed is also supposed to help you sleep soundly.

I have been leaving bhringaraj oil on my hair for several hours the day I’m going to wash my hair to help reverse hair fall out I was experiencing due to hypothyroidism as well as menopause. Mahanarayan oil is my oil of choice for after shower since it helps with muscles and joints. It balances all the doshas but especially Vata. Vasant Lad, MASc recommends warming the oil and using sesame or almond for Vata, sunflower or coconut oil for Pitta and mustard or corn oil for Kapha. If there’s a favorite oil of yours, don’t let the recommendations stop you from using your oil of choice, in my opinion. I have a jasmine infused Vitamin E oil I also use.

Applying oil to your body is a practice of self-love. It will improve your circulation, moisten and condition the skin and is a great de-stressor in this day of go, go. The Sanskrit word for oil means love. Enough said.

There are other practices we could go into for your daily routine but let’s start here and pick something that resonates with you. Be good to yourself. The more you take the time for self-care, the more your body will respond positively. The more you are able to relax with these practices, the more tools you are providing your body to rejuvenate and heal from within. That’s the Ayurveda way—heal from within. Please let me know if I can help you in any way on your journey.

 

 

 

 

 

20
February

The Taste of Life

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings, Welcome to "My Better Day" Weekly Musings!
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This is my third installment in a series of blogs I’m dedicating to the ancient sister science of Yoga—Ayurveda. Here are links to the first two in case you missed them:

The Science of Life: How to hone and own your best assets

Getting in Sync with nature

 

We covered zeroing in on just what your energetic personality type is in the first blog and tackled the Ayurvedic clock / circadian rhythms last week. Now that you know who you are and what your preferences are, as well as the best times to wake, eat and sleep; we’ll touch a bit on just what to eat for  your type. Reviewing the past two blogs will help you here.

Six Tastes

Remember opposites soothe and similar aggravates. Each dosha, or energetic personality type, has tastes that pacify and soothe their dosha. There are six tastes: Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent. Ayurveda recommends that we have all six tastes in our diet and preferably in each meal. The key is to eat these in appropriate amounts for your “constitution”/doshic balance.

Sweet: Pacifies both Vata and Pitta but increases Kapha.

Sour: Increases (or aggravates) Pitta and Kapha and it decreases (or pacifies) Vata.

Salty: Moderate use relieves Vata but increases Kapha and Pitta.

Pungent: Pacifies Kapha but excites/aggravates Pitta and Vata. If you eat a little bit of pungent, the first action of pungent is to pacify Vata due to the heat qualities. Using it too much, however, will dry so it increases Vata (already dry) and Pitta (fire element is one of Pitta’s components and is already drying).

On a side note, when I took an in-depth 9-month study on Ayurveda in 2014 (Living Ayurveda with Cate Stillman), I started to drill down on just what spices and foods do to our mentality, mood, and body. I used to absolutely love cayenne! I’d sprinkle cayenne on literally everything! I mean you could see red on my salad! Then I read that pungent in excess makes you …angry, irritable, aggressive, competitive, jealous, envious, and even violent. Makes sense, doesn’t it? What goes in must come out. Pungent is hot, sharp and penetrating. In small quantities that’s good. In excess, not so much!

Bitter: Increases Vata but decreases Pitta and Kapha. Bitter is the most lacking taste in North America. This may be why coffee is so popular—it’s bitter. However, you know how some research shows too much coffee will cause bone loss? Over-consumption of bitter can reduce bone marrow and lead to bone loss. There are many qualities I could go into here, but won’t for now.

Astringent: Reduces both Pitta and Kapha, but increases Vata.

Favorite Tastes

Vata Dosha

Vata prefers sweet, sour, and salty foods to soothe and balance their dosha.

Pitta Dosha

Pitta prefers sweet, bitter, and astringent foods to soothe and balance their dosha.

Kapha Dosha

Kapha prefers bitter, pungent, astringent foods to soothe and balance their dosha.

Toxins / Ama

Let me just add a quick note on toxins in our body (“ama” in Ayurveda). If you are consuming a lot or processed food, or not using organic vegetables (especially for the infamous “dirty dozen”), or using chemical-laden cosmetic and cleaning products; you’ll probably have some toxicity in your digestive system.

Our body is so well-designed that without the toxicity, our cravings are healthy. Our body will actually crave those things that will balance our doshas! How cool is that? Cellular intelligence at its finest! However, and this is a biggie, if you have digestive issues due to toxins or other considerations, our cellular intelligence is off and our cravings become what Ayurveda likes to refer to as “perverted”.

Modern science is catching up to the ancients here. I’ve read recent studies that if we eat the wrong foods, we feed the wrong microbes in our gut. What we feed grows and wants to stay alive so the cravings will be more of the same—“Feed me!”

So part of the healing process of our gut is to start eating the good stuff, right? Then once we remove the toxins from our diet, our cravings will be healthy ones.

A few other things that can lead to toxins could be overeating, eating heavy foods in excess or large heavy meals just before bed, eating hard to digest foods for your dosha, and eating at the wrong times (night, between meals, or unseasonally.)

My favorite Ayurvedic Cookbook

So I’ve highlighted some ideas for heading toward a balanced intake above. But what about some recipe suggestions? My favorite Ayurvedic cookbook is Eat, Taste, Heal: An Ayurvedic Guidebook and Cookbook for Modern Living. Each recipe is labeled with which dosha it’s appropriate for as well as how to adjust a particular recipe to be okay for a different dosha. Genius, right?! There’s also “Dosha food lists” in the appendices for easy reference.

 

Fruits as a starter list from the above cookbook
(There’s more, but this will get you going until you get the book!)

Vata would favor all berries, dates (a super food in Ayurveda), oranges, apricots, coconut, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, limes, and avocado (healthy fats!).

Pitta would favor apples, avocado, sweet berries, sweet apricots, dates, coconut, sweet grapes, mango, sweet plums, watermelon, and pomegranate.

Kapha would favor apples, apricots, berries, cherries, mango, peaches, pears, and pomegranate.

 

Vegetables starter list

Vata: favor cooked vegetables—asparagus (again a super food), beets, squash (winter, butternut and acorn), carrots, cucumber green beans, leeks, onions (remember cooked), sweet potatoes.

Pitta: Brussel sprouts, butternut and spaghetti squash, leafy greens, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, fresh corn, cucumber, green beans, kale, collards, mushrooms, peas, parsley and sprouts.

Kapha: Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, fresh corn, eggplant, horseradish, kale, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peas, parsley, white potatoes, radish, and summer squash.

There are also categories for grains, legumes, dairy proteins, nuts, seeds, oils, sweeteners, herbs and spices, condiments, beverages, supplements. Too much to cover here!

Food combining

“Every food has its own taste, a heating or cooling energy, and a post-digestive effect. Some also possess an unexplained effect. When two or more foods having different taste, energy, or post-digestive effects are combined, your digestive fire, (Agni in Ayurveda), can become overloaded, inhibiting the enzyme system and resulting in the production of toxins. Yet these same foods, if eaten separately, might well stimulate your digestive fire, be quickly digested, and even help to burn toxins.” ~ Textbook of Ayurveda Volume 1, by Vasant Lad, MASc.

This is a very important topic that we don’t always consider. You’ve probably heard to eat fruit alone? This is one of the Ayurvedic recommendations. Improper food combining causes indigestion, gas, fermentation; and yes—disease, among other things. Here’s a quick chart to start your journey. Remember to start slow. It’s a process!

Kitchari: Kind of like Chicken Soup

Kitchari is a simply prepared meal. It’s also a great balancing, easily digested complete meal in a single dish. There are many recipes out there. In my current Ayurveda training with Yoga Veda Institute, they commented that while Kitchari comes from Ayurveda, each culture has their version—kind of like our chicken soup recipes. So explore your favorite Kitchari recipes online.

I hope you’ve enjoyed dipping your toe into eating with your doshas in mind. I’ve only touched upon some very basic concepts. The rest is up to you. I’m here to help if you have questions! See you next week for my fourth installment on Ayurveda!

 

 

 

 

 

15
February

Getting in sync with nature

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings, Welcome to "My Better Day" Weekly Musings!
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Last week was the first of the current series of blogs I’m dedicating to Ayurveda and some simple steps to make this 5000 + year-old sister science of yoga part of your lifestyle. Last week I introduced doshas—your energetic personality type, here.

One of the easiest ways to start to foster a balanced lifestyle is to live according to the natural laws of nature. Just as we each have our own energetic biorhythms that define what our essential nature is (doshas), Mother Nature has circadian rhythms that affect us as humans living on this Earth. Ayurveda teaches us how to live, eat, and breathe in harmony with nature.

The Ayurvedic clock / Getting in sync with nature

The Ayurvedic clock is broken down by doshas:

From 2 – 6 AM and PM it is Vata time. As you recall from last week, this dosha is all about movement with qualities of light, subtle, clear, flowing and mobile—among others. From 2 – 6 AM is when our minds are more awake and clear. Ayurveda would say to rise with the sun, no later than 6 AM. Exposure to sunlight also causes a chemical reaction to that makes your body more alert. This is why insomnia experts recommend dimming your lights as the day comes to a close so you don’t have this alertness affect your sleep.

Getting up before 6 AM is actually easier than you think. I’m sure you’ve woken up before 6 AM and felt totally awake, right? That’s Vata time! Ayurveda recommends getting up no later than 6 AM to meditate and do breath practices (pranayama) when your mind is the most clear (Vata).

Once 6 AM hits, it’s Kapha time from 6 – 10 AM and PM. This is the dosha with the force of nourishment, lubrication and structure and has qualities like heavy, gross, dense, static, smooth and cloudy—among others. Kapha time is the hardest time to get motivated. We tend to be groggy (cloudy) this time of day. So sleeping past six will allow the heavier, denser qualities of Kapha to influence your day’s experience. This is why exercising in the morning to help rev up the engine and energize the rest of the day is helpful.

Kapha is also the time in the PM when we start to become sleepy. So Ayurveda recommends going to bed no later than 10 PM. Use the Kapha timeframe to wind down, dim the lights, quit using electronics and chill. Staying up later and fighting the drowsiness Kapha brings could give us a second wind when Pitta is in full force, making all chances of a good night’s rest impossible. Journaling, restorative yoga, some peaceful breath practices, and/or perhaps some relaxing aromatherapy would all be helpful ways to prepare for sleep.

From 10 – 2 AM and PM it’s Pitta’s time to shine. Pitta is the fire dosha with the power of transformation, digestion, and metabolism. This is the time when our digestive fire is the strongest which is why Ayurveda suggests eating your biggest meal at lunch. Eating our biggest meal at the end of the day, as many of us do, falls into Kapha time when our digestive fire is the slowest.

Having less food energy to digest as you sleep allows the second round of Pitta time (10 PM – 2 AM) for digesting and processing all the other intake from the day—our mental energy needs digesting as well. This is the one area we don’t always take into consideration. All the mental energy we took in during the day with emails, phone calls, social media, television, traffic, work-related issues and meetings, needs to be processed by our brain. Our body also turns on its repair functions at this time.

I’m sure you’ve heard how important sleep is for the health, right? Well a big part of that is allowing time for the repair functions that occur while we sleep. Your brain literally clears things out during sleep.

Eating lighter at the end of the day lightens the digestive load, making it easier to rest and detox.

Start to notice when your energy peaks and wanes. Perhaps journal about how you feel on days when you follow the Ayurvedic clock more closely vs. not. Our daily patterns affect our health in so many ways

Many ancient medical systems, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, recognize the seasonal cycles of nature and the benefits of living in balance with nature. Even modern science is catching up with the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine being awarded to three joint winners for their discovery of how internal clocks and biological rhythms govern human life.

While circadian rhythms can be altered with various changes to your schedule, research shows this isn’t always healthy. Night-shift workers, for example, have been documented as having various health problems. As the old commercial says—“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

 

30
January

Touchstones

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Welcome to "My Better Day" Weekly Musings!
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This is my fourth blog in the series on simple rituals to invite Spirit back into your daily life. They take no more than a few minutes and easily fit into your schedule. Here’s the previous three links if you missed them:

Dialing up Spirit

Using Ritual to Listen to Spirit 

A Silent Night all year round 

This week it gets even more personal.

Touchstones

Have you ever found a natural rock that just felt good to hold? It could have been picked up while on a retreat or vacation or perhaps a long walk to one of your favorite places. Maybe you put it in your pocket for luck or maybe it found its way to your bedside table or your desk at work. Every time you look at it, you remember the moment you found it, or the place you found it, or the person you found it with. That’s a touchstone and the subject of this week’s topic to bring Spirit into your daily life.

According to Ayurveda: “There is a mind in everything, living and non-living, organic and inorganic. However the state of consciousness differs for various things. For example, the mind of a rock is as if in a deep coma. Rocks have feelings and expressions, and if one is aware, one can sometimes sense that a rock feels happy, sad, or perhaps frightened or angry. However one must have an open mind to perceive these emotions. It is beneficial to develop one’s intuition, the mystic aspect of the mind.” ~ Dr. Vasant Lad, M.A Sc

Did you question your good feelings when you picked up the rock? Did you for one moment think, why does this rock make me feel good? Of course not! Because you feel what you feel. No one can question that, nor should they.

I have rocks, crystals and stones throughout our house! We have quite a collection! And while I can’t always remember what I did an hour ago, I can pretty much tell you each and every place I found or purchased these treasures. We remember what makes us feel good, don’t we?

 

Stones with words on them

Maybe you like a little more décor in your environment. So polished rocks with words on them are also available. I won’t go into how many I have that simply say “Believe” (my favorite word); but I do have one next to my bedside that says “Gratitude” as well as “Meditation”. Do you remember the book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne? She mentions the magic of a gratitude rock creating a miracle. I’ll stop there. You should really get the book. We’ve all heard and read how feelings of gratitude can be healing. At the very least it will remind you to stop and feel gratitude at the beginning and end of your day just by gazing upon the stone.

 

Worry Stones

Now your treasured find could serve as a worry stone. You know what I mean, right? It’s the kind of stone that fits into your grip so well you can rub it between your thumb and index finger for a soothing sensation. I’ve found natural stones that fit the bill but they’re out there in various forms. There’s a cute little retail shop on the way home from the north shore that sells small ceramic ones formed just right. They have words like “Namaste” as well as “Gratitude”, among others. One year this was my Christmas gift to each of my students.

 

Medicine Bag

You can also find various medicine bag necklaces to put your teeny tiny treasures in and wear them close to your heart. I have beaded ones and a couple leather ones with drawstrings. You can insert tiny stones, crystals, medals, herbs that smell nice or offer medicinal qualities—you get the idea. The medicine bag comes from Native American history and is often worn for maintaining personal harmony. Some include sage, sweet grass, or cedar—all healing, cleansing smudgeable herbs. Some include food items like corn or seeds or even flowers for the “medicine” they contain. Some might include a feather inside or out as part of the decoration. Buy one and fill it with YOUR personal mementos—only YOU know what resonates with YOU. And if necklaces aren’t your thing, but Native American art is, you can hang a typical medicine bag near where you’ll appreciate it most.

 

Blessing Bowls and Pyramids

One of my oldest and dearest friends gave me what is called a “Blessing Bowl” with an instructional booklet to “write down a few things you are grateful for. Fold the paper and place it in your Blessing Bowl. Every time you pass by your bowl or think of it, you will be reminded of your blessings. As you are thankful for your treasures, you invite more good things.”

Over the years, we’ve gifted several small holding containers to each other. I think the one thing I am most grateful for is her dear friendship over these 40+ years.

Pyramids are also a symbol of gathering energy and sending it upward. You can find small pyramids that are made of various crystals or that can open up for you to insert your list or other treasure inside.

 

Rosaries and Malas

I have a collection of prayer beads. I grew up with my favorite rosaries and still have these treasured gems—like the one I made my first communion with and the one my husband gifted to me that I held down the aisle at our wedding ceremony. I had planned to put my mom’s rosary inside a picture box with some fancy dress gloves and a veiled hat. Sadly, that project never happened. I recently discovered this collection of pieces in storage and immediately rescued the rosary from the box. It now sits next to me as I type. I believe it contains her energy. She touched this chain of beads more than any other person on this earth. So it’s like she’s right next to me. I know I can feel it.

My mom (in-law) wore her rosary out. She prayed on it daily, if not twice a day, as did her husband on his. We have those two rosaries together, as they should be, in a box. If you don’t think rosaries contain energy, well, think again. They’ve been a source of inspiration for both my husband and I for many, many years.

Now for the malas! I used to collect Neil Diamond albums whenever I accomplished anything exciting in my younger life. Once yoga entered my life, the spirituality of the practice did as well. I bought one of my first malas to commemorate achieving 500 hours of yoga training, and then again when I achieved 1000 hours of teaching yoga, and again when I was certified as a yoga therapist, and most recently when I graduated from 100 hours of Yoga Nidra training with Indu Arora last year. It’s become a “yoga thing” for me. Some would say a fetish, but let’s not go there. You see it combines my love of crystals with my love of yoga so this ritual is a bit unstoppable. I still say Hail Mary’s on most of my malas. Old habits are also rituals, aren’t they?

When was the last time you commemorated an accomplishment with a treasured something, something? It doesn’t have to be prayer beads.

 

Sacred and symbolic Medals

I am absolutely enamored with the story of St. Catherine Laboure and the miraculous medal. I have owned three medals, two from my childhood that traveled with me through life until I gifted one to a dear friend who needed a miracle at the time. One is embedded inside a prayer card I purchased at Holy Hill in Hubertus, Wisconsin.

I still wear the one medal on special occasions. When my mom (in-law) passed away, I realized that St. Catherine’s birthday was May 2 near the date of the funeral. So I wore it that day knowing mom would’ve been pleased.

St. Catherine’s story reminds me of so much—of faith, of my childhood, and most of all—believing in miracles. What makes you remember to believe? Surround yourself with that.

One time during a yoga therapy training, we were working with chakra energy (energy vortexes that correspond to our endocrine system—they’re in my logo) and using a pendulum to measure the energy of each chakra down our spine. I had purchased a hamsa necklace seconds before at the boutique open during the training. They hadn’t suggested removing jewelry so I was still wearing it. When the pendulum check got to my throat, the circular motion stopped and went very haywire, bouncing this way and that. I thought for a moment and figured let’s try removing the necklace. The pendulum circled beautifully around my throat chakra after I removed the hamsa. I kid you not! There’s something to it! Open hands are very symbolic.

I wrote about the hamsa before. Here’s a small paragraph from that blog:

“Amulets that are used for protection go back thousands of years. The open hand as a symbol of protection is universal. Symbols of divine protection based upon the open hand go by many names: Hamsa, Hand of Rachel, Hand of Mirium, and Hand of Venus/Aphrodite, among others. Hamsa literally means “five”. It predates Christianity as well as Islam. The Hand of Mary was used to protect women from the evil eye, boost fertility and lactation, promote healthy pregnancies, and strengthen the weak.”

My most recent purchase of a hamsa was, again, at a yoga conference (I need a jewelry anonymous meeting, don’t’ I?). It has a beautiful clear crystal wrapped just above it. It makes me feel downright protected when I travel long distances. Do you have a piece that you wear when you travel? Maybe you have something in your car for safe travel—perhaps a St. Christopher’s medal? I purchased one for my husband for our five year anniversary.

 

Speaking of Saints

I’ve mentioned a few of my favorite Saints here. For those of us that want a different kind of touchstone, remember the prayer card I mentioned above? You can find them dedicated to various Saints, some containing medals like my St. Catherine prayer card, some commemorating the passing of a loved one. Maybe you can find a special prayer card and post it in a special place to remind you of that special someone, or your belief in prayer, saints and angels. Perhaps place it on your bathroom mirror, or on your refrigerator. Where will you see it most?

I used to read a children’s book about the story of Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes over and over each year. It’s the story of ‘Bernadeta’ seeing Marian apparitions at the grotto in Lourdes, France. Miracles, again, make an impression on me. How about you? I wish I’d kept that book when I moved out on my own. Sadly, I did not. But I still have a prayer card containing a cloth touched to a relic of St. Bernadette. It still means something to me. Do you have a favorite Saint?

I still own a statue of the Blessed Virgin from my childhood. It sits upon my dresser and is one of the first things I see in the morning. What do you see first thing in the morning? Does it bring you peace?

 

Now YOU

What makes YOU feel good? What memento brings you good memories? What reminds you to send a prayer to the heavens? Surround yourself with THAT. Then it will only take a moment to bring Spirit into your life when your eyes land upon your specially chosen spot.

 

A few of my favorite things

 

10
January

Using Ritual to listen to Spirit

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Newsletter, Welcome to "My Better Day" Weekly Musings!
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Hello everyone!

Happy 2019! How has the year started off for you? Getting back to our usual routines can be a blessing, can’t they? The end of the year is a whirlwind of activity, throwing us off our usual routines; and perhaps leaving us tired in mind, body, and pocketbook.

Some of the aftereffects can show up as less patience, feeling less grounded or even lethargic. When this happens, I know I’ve quit listening to Spirit and need to get back to my usual, very simple routine rituals that invite Spirit into my life.

So I’ll be writing a series of blog posts on easy ways you can bring simple rituals into your daily realm that take no more than a few minutes. If one doesn’t resonate with you, perhaps the following week’s will. Consider it my New Year’s gift to you, my readers.

Don’t worry, I won’t be emailing you weekly! Am I the only one who thinks some of the emailing has gotten out of hand? You can check out my blog page weekly here —the same page you go to for the current newsletter which IS sent via email once a month or so.

I’ll also be posting the intro to the blog with the same link on my Better Day Yoga Facebook page here as well as on my Instagram page here.

I hope you’ll join me. At the very least, you’ll gain some peace of mind and spirit while reading the post and perhaps you’ll acquire a new favorite ritual to carry with you into 2019.

To start you off, here’s my favorite, perennial ritual that creates an immediate meditative moment first thing in the morning while putting on your make-up, bathing, shaving—you get the idea. We all use the restroom in the morning, right? It’s real, real simple:

  • Light a candle,
  • Perhaps light some incense (if that’s something that resonates with you) and
  • Say a small prayer or affirmation.

If you’ve chosen incense, let the smoke waft over you as though you’re sending yourself a blessing from Spirit. My husband and I both love Palo Santo wood. It doesn’t burn for long after being lit, so it’s a quick blessing and smells so amazing!

All wood scents are very grounding. They come from a tree, so you are being surrounded with the grounding energy from the tree’s innate ability to root down deep into Mother Earth.

My favorite short prayer to say when I light a candle comes from Ernest Holmes (The Science of Mind):

“Perfect God within me, Perfect life within me which is God, come forth into expression through me as that which I am.”

I memorized that prayer years ago. There’s not a time I light a candle (which I do at least once a day) that this prayer doesn’t come to me automatically, silently repeating in my mind. It sets the tone for my day immediately.

See, I told you it would be simple, only take a few minutes and fit right into your daily routine. I wish a grounding peacefulness to embrace each and every one of you as you start your day. Until next time!

 

 

 


New Year’s resolutions on your mind?

YogaLean 12-week Transformation!

Looking to make a change? Are you searching for real transformation in your life? Do you want to lose weight and gain vitality? Hoping to de-clutter both physically and mentally? Are you curious about learning to meditate for greater serenity? Join the YogaLean 12-week Transformation! This workshop is available as either a private residence group class or on-site corporate class. Details here.


Adding to my Ayurvedic studies!

I’m deepening my Ayurveda training through Yoga Veda Institute’s Ayurvedic Health Counselor program! Four years ago I studied with Cate Stillman in a 9-month program called “Living Ayurveda” and it’s time for more!

Ayurveda literally translates to “Science of Life”. Ayurveda is a Vedic Science that’s a 5000 years old traditional science designed to bring the body back to balance in order to heal from within. Ayurveda incorporates nutrition, lifestyle, breath practices and more to bring you to balance—mind, body, and spirit.

The YogaLean program I detailed above incorporates Ayurvedic science as well. If you’re curious, please check it out or go to that page on my website for links to quizzes to find out your Ayurvedic body type/individual nature/dosha.

Each person is a unique combination of the five elements and we each have a different proportion of each existing within our personal make-up. Vata is predominantly Air and Ether, Pitta is predominantly Fire and Water, and Kapha is predominantly Earth and Water.

Being aware of your dosha allows you to identify protocols used in Ayurveda to align with nature—both your internal nature and your external environment such as seasonal cycles and circadian rhythms. It helps you to really hone and own your best assets!

Curious? Schedule a one-on-one Yoga Therapy appointment with me and we can discuss your unique health and wellness!

Please feel free to share my blog series or YogaLean program page with your friends! I would be most grateful! Happy 2019!

 

Namasté,
Sandy Krzyzanowski
Better Day Yoga, LLC

 

02
March

You call it a jig, we call it a polka

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Welcome to "My Better Day" Weekly Musings!
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My husband and I thoroughly enjoy celebrating all things Irish as St. Patrick’s day approaches. Yes, I’m immensely proud of being a first generation Pole; but I was born and raised in South Bend, IN, the land of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame! Add to that, my Dad did the stonework at Notre Dame when he first came to America (from Poland with my mom and their two children). He worked on the grotto and helped with the brick work when they installed the Pieta sculpture of Mary holding Jesus into the Basilica. When Notre Dame didn’t win their games, he was NOT happy! So there’s a healthy admiration for all things Irish, especially this time of year!

 

We have quite a collection of Irish CDs. One of my favorites is The Best of The Irish Rovers. The first song, “The Unicorn”, holds a special spot in my heart because it was literally the first song I heard on the radio as a child of seven where I realized that songs told a story. This jig fills me with joy and turns me into that same seven-year-old wide-eyed child. Fun Trivia: the children’s book author, Shel Silverstein, wrote this whimsical poem and it appears in his book Where the Sidewalk Ends. Full disclosure: I’m not exactly sure I DON’T believe in Unicorns!

Many of you may know that about a year ago, my husband, Ed, fell 15 feet from a ladder while taking down Christmas lights. He broke his talus bone and chipped another in his left foot, and also broke his right big toe. He landed into the ladder, as he smacked down onto the driveway pavement. His nose was swollen and appeared to possibly be broken. He was bleeding profusely from the gashes on his face. Needless to say, I was beside myself when I found him. (Does anyone want to buy a ladder?)

The next few months it was my personal mission to surround him with as many healing modalities I could get my hands on. I became “Sumo-wrestler guard” when he moved, trailing him in a stooped position to make sure he wouldn’t fall. His doctor said it would be 18 months minimum for the healing process. So we’ve made it a year!

He is continually improving. Some days are better than others. Most of you wouldn’t know he has any remaining issues, but you don’t see him when he wakes up and it’s tight, or when he goes down steps, or has pain when he tries to go on a longer walk. He’s a trooper! Have I mentioned yet how very much I adore this man? Unbelievably, this has brought us just that much closer. We have a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other. I mean, he’s still here. It could have been so much worse. We’re intensely aware of just how lucky we are.

This past weekend we were listening to our Irish music collection and both of us were enjoying recalling happy moments from our past that these songs brought to mind. One CD was purchased on a trip to Sacramento during St. Patty’s day. We found a CD there that was recorded in South Bend and had to buy it (Seamaisin, Joseph Harvey’s Fiddle was Left in the Rain)! Another is The Irish Tenors in Belfast. Just hearing their deep operatic voices brings tears to our eyes. There’s a National Geographic “Destination Ireland” CD, and one purchased at my step-sister’s wedding from their band, Crazy Maggie (“Rock the Bow”).

But it was The Irish Rover’s CD that, again, delivered a magical new memory. Their “Goodbye Mick and Goodbye Pat” song came on. It’s quite a lively tune, not unlike a polka. I stopped what I was doing to gaze into my sweet husband’s eyes and he held me in his arms, returning the gaze. We spontaneously started to do a very low-key version of our usual Polka (prior to his accident, we were polka-dancing fools given the right song!) We stopped after a few steps, eyes locked upon each other, tears forming in our eyes from a knowing we both understood. This was officially our first polka since he fell almost a year ago! It was a memory of a lifetime. Life is so very precious….Don’t forget to Dance!

 

 

I would love it if you would subscribe to my blog/newsletter. I don’t publish on a regular timetable so subscribing is a good way to make sure you don’t miss out on any amazing posts such as this one! (Poking fun at myself. 🙂 ) You’ll also be the first to receive updates, resources, and more. I’ll even give you a free gift! 🙂 Click on the “FREE Chakra-Balancing & Loving Kindness Meditation!” link in the right-hand column. Thanks!