“My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more! It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!
My primary goal for 2013 is to continue to share the transformative power of yoga and wellness with you. Can you help me with this goal? Here are a few ways that you could help:
Last year, I changed the timing of my newsletters from one every month to one every two months, and it even became less than that toward the end of the year. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed! I may be switching that up this year as well. I’d rather write quality vs. quantity. I hope you agree. If I have something important to relay to you, I’ll send a dedicated email vs. a full newsletter, if need be, on the off months.
In this issue: Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.
Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC
Last year at a YogaFit® Mind Body Fitness Conference I purchased a hand-made bracelet that was created with the intention of helping you clear your energetic knots (“granthis” in Sanskrit). It has one of those “Chinese coins” in the middle picturing a dragon-like image on one side and Chinese characters on the other. There are two strands extending from each side of the coin with one of the strands on one side containing a unique “square” bead representing a “knot” or “granthi”. Several red/orange agate stones adorn the bracelet (agates are great grounding stones!) along with a few beautiful light green to milky yellow jaspers, and there’s a dove charm at the clasp. It feels very “earthy” and grounding to me.
The energy of stones speaks to me. I am enamored with energy. Working with the energy body has always been a magical subject for me. How about you?
I’ve referred to energetic knots/granthis in past newsletters. Let me recap a bit here.
Just as acupressure or acupuncture releases blocks in your energetic “subtle” body, yoga releases blocks along the nadis—or delivery system—in the body. “Nadi” means “movement”. They operate as a delivery system for the chakras and transport subtle energies throughout the body. They are often compared to the Chinese meridian system since both distribute energy and interact with the chakras.
Knots are considered “thresholds” where the energy gets stuck. When energy is stuck at the various thresholds, it develops a physical “pathology” specific to that area of the body. When the knots clear, we become “aligned with the truth of our nature, and the symptoms disappear.” (Source: Kundalini Rising. Exploring the energy of awakening by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Andrew Newberg, Sivananda Rhada, Ken Wilber, and John Selby.)
The knots lie within the root, heart, and third-eye chakra. (Some texts say the first knot is in the solar plexus chakra.) Yoga helps release the energetic knots or blocks. Once the blocks are released, our energy flows freely—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When there is no energy, there is no life. Our energy—also known as prana or chi—is vital to our life-force. When it flows freely, we feel healthy, vibrant and connected to our true spiritual nature; and are able to become all that we are meant to be.
As mentioned earlier, the first knot we must unlock is located within the root chakra. This first knot is “Known as the knot of names and forms, the world of ambitions and desires..” The Chakra Bible by Patricia Mercier.
The root chakra is my “go to” chakra for health and well-being since it is typically the one I need to strengthen. It speaks to feeling safe, secure, centered and grounded—nurtured. It is the “seat of survival.” You need to satisfy your survival needs of safety and security before you can become enlightened, right? I tend to focus on staying grounded, stable, and secure sometimes at the expense of venturing out. Putting yourself out there feels vulnerable, doesn’t it?
How about you? Have you struggled with feeling centered, secure, and grounded? Do you feel stuck because the risk seems too great to be “out there”?
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom ~ Anais Nin
Here’s the rub—the first knot remains shut until you have overcome your attachment to stability, inertia and identification with the physical alone. That’s been a sticking point for me, to say the least, but it makes sense. The root chakra is all about stability and security—but when you strive to attain those things in excess, it still blocks you from recognizing your true nature—your spirit. We weren’t meant to survive life “safe”. We were meant to thrive! We were meant to let our spirit loose! We were meant to connect with our true spiritual nature!
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, “WHO HOO, what a ride!” ~ Author Unknown
I believe we attract the lessons in life we personally need. We all have different lessons and different paths to learn those lessons. When I bought the bracelet, I knew there was something about it I needed to address—this clearing of energetic knots.
“What do you want more of in your life? Create a piece of jewelry to symbolize your desire and focus your intention.” ~ Suzanne Vadnais Monson’s “Enchanted Jewelry” Enrichuals© card.
We’ll come back to the “unlocking energetic knot bracelet” later! Hold that thought!
This past weekend I had the honor of presenting a recently updated version of my Facial Exercise, Acupressure, and Self-Massage workshop at my favorite yoga studio—my yoga sister, Tracey Mortensen’s, studio—Inspiring Actions, LLC. I’d presented this workshop a few times at my original studio location, within Vita Bella’s in Little Canada, as well as at Spirit River in Anoka.
The recent updated version adds more yogic philosophy. While the additions were subtle, it really clicked with my personal vision of what I wanted to communicate in this workshop. (Or to use the phrase from Cyndi Dale’s book referenced above—the workshop “aligned with the truth of my nature”.)
Ultimately, what speaks to you and feeds your soul is the true calling behind your apparent role. What is the larger goal in the work you do?
There’s always been a section reminding the student that a yoga practice is a great anti-aging practice in and of itself. And I have always stressed this workshop is not about getting a “Botox-like” perfection. The results are more subtle and natural. We aim for an improved, better you—not perfection.
Combining the two sentiments brought it home: Coming from a yoga philosophy, I added a reminder of the importance of being okay with where you are at, to love yourself “as is”. Just as your yoga practice is not meant for achieving the “perfect” pose, neither is the intent of my workshop to achieve the “perfect” face.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr.
You have certain features you can improve upon, but what you have to work with is God-given and should be treasured, loved, and even nurtured. The most important element of an anti-aging routine is your mind. That message—the importance of a positive, nurturing mindset in all of your endeavors, and the importance of loving and nurturing yourself—is the larger goal in what I am called to teach. It focuses on love and joy—simple, yet not easy. While there are tools I use to convey that message, the “click” came when I switched my focus from the details of the tools to focusing on the larger aspect of love and joy.
How often have you heard to quit focusing on the details—to focus on the bigger picture—to achieve all? Detach from the details, and all will be forthcoming. Remember your true nature in the bigger picture. Flow with that. Focus on your larger goal and the details will take care of themselves.
“The wave forgets the truth that it is ocean, thinking itself
to be the grand shape, which it has temporarily taken.
For a while, it takes on the rupa (form) of wave.
Finally, it remembers its true rupa (form) of ocean.
The two coexist, though one is true, and the
other, though beautiful, is only relatively true.
So too, we humans forget our true nature,
but, through yoga, can remember.”
One of the facial acupressure points highlighted in the workshop utilizes the grounding aspects of the point to help focus on “what do you really want?” I’d never really been able to nail the answer to that when I focused on the details. It seemed so big. But when I focus on the larger goal, the answer is simple.
“The answer is simple…Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit” ~ Sonia Choquette (the tile to her new book.)
Other luscious, yogic and energy philosophy additions to my workshop included:
All I can say is these additions to content made the workshop literally come alive with new life for me as the teacher. It has a whole new feel to it when I present it because it speaks to my passions so much more directly. Curious? Book a workshop!
I wrote this newsletter before I received this email about Gaiam’s® “Connect 2 Happiness” program : “When we take a moment to listen to our inner guide, we get clues that can lead us down the path toward happiness. Choosing what makes us feel happy over what makes us feel safe can take us out of our comfort zone; yet when we connect to our passions with our actions, we stop seeking and start living. Find you joy. Listen to yourself, and take action.
Start a conversation with your inner guide. Ask yourself these three questions, and listen closely to the answers:
Infuse your current life with more that you are passionate about and watch your world pop!
The workshop being held at my yoga sister’s studio added a very special significance for me. Tracey (the owner) and I completed our first and second 200 hour yoga teacher trainings together, so we’ve walked the yoga path together for several years. Her friendship means the world to me. Presenting at her studio was, for me, a crowning achievement. She was placing her trust in my abilities and I didn’t plan on letting her down!
Feedback from the workshop was very positive, with several students giving unasked for compliments on content and presentation. I was walking on cloud nine for the rest of the weekend, feeling content and “on purpose”. “On purpose”—something I had not felt until I focused on the larger goal and putting my “passions into action” as primary and let the details be secondary.
The next day, I even treated myself to a celebratory shopping excursion at Kohl’s® and found myself in the yoga clothes section. Then it happened. I was in the try-on room when my bracelet unraveled. I was stunned and at first, disappointed. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I gathered up the beads on the floor and quickly realized all the beads weren’t there so I found some others on the floor where the yoga clothes were. **Sigh***
Glass half-full—the bracelet was hand-made with high quality materials and I didn’t question the workmanship. I used to sell beaded jewelry so I know they can’t possibly last a life-time. It’s the nature of the beast. Still, I had to sigh. What did this mean? Was it some sort of sign?
I didn’t realize until later that the only strand that unraveled was the strand with the square bead representing the knot/granthi. Then I remembered YogaFit® has a line of other simpler bracelets referred to as “Karma bracelets” that are designed to fall off when your karma is complete—when you have released your negative karma and achieved your personal goal. They are supposed to turn your intention into action. (Portions of proceeds go to the Khushi Charitable Society in India, providing after-school opportunities to impoverished children.)
Karma is defined as “the force generated by a person’s actions”. I had to wonder, did I unlock the first knot?
A couple of weeks prior to this, while in the preparation stages for the workshop, I had experienced a pretty dramatic reaction to a deep tissue/trigger point massage—Lymphatic congestion to the nth degree and subsequent kidney heaviness—all part of your detox and immune functions of the body. The first chakra, where the first knot resides, governs the immune system and the blood and is also associated with the kidney meridian. Also, in Chinese physiology the kidneys rule the emotions fear and insecurity—root chakra issues.
Note to self: If you are coming down with a cold or just getting over one, it is NOT recommended you have a deep tissue massage. Got it! Check that lesson off! Yet and still, a good mind/body expert/friend, Dori Brown, PT, suggested that perhaps a clearing that happened quickly, albeit dramatically, was better than slowly over several weeks, adding—everything happens the way it’s supposed to, and my body was calling for a clearing. Read the Chakrascope section for more on kidneys and the root chakra (and salt cravings).
Again, to repeat an earlier quote from Cyndi Dale’s book: When energy is stuck at the various thresholds, it develops a physical “pathology” specific to that area of the body. When the knots clear, we become “aligned with the truth of our nature, and the symptoms disappear.” (Source: Kundalini Rising. Exploring the energy of awakening by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Andrew Newberg, Sivananda Rhada, Ken Wilber, and John Selby.) I wondered, could this be what was happening to me?
Detox—getting rid of what you don’t want. As I contemplated the “bigger picture” message my body was trying to tell me, several questions came to mind. I am, by nature, intensely curious about how life’s lessons manifest in the body, energetically, spiritually and physically. It’s all connected.
The next time you have a physical symptom, ask yourself what might be going on in your life/mind that could be affecting your physical body. Sound strange? Why? Do you question that frustration can lead to either over or under eating or over or under exercising? And would that result in a physical manifestation? Do you question stress affecting your immune system, or causing you to clench various parts of your body? And would that result in a physical manifestation? How else would the body speak to you if not through its symptoms? Have you let this habitual pattern of stress or frustration become your norm so that you no longer see how it leads to the physical manifestation? All I’m asking is that you try listening for a change and perhaps enlighten yourself for your own healing journey.
Inna Segal in her book The Secret Language of Your Body, states that the antidote to a rebelling lymphatic system is to practice courage, self-esteem, and leadership and focus on appreciating yourself, loving yourself, and creating a supportive environment where you can feel comfortable to be creative, lively, and spontaneous. I believe I accomplished that by creating and presenting my “new and improved” workshop. Was this all part of a transition to release the first knot? I believe you never really know.
All I do know for sure is I feel as though I am living “on purpose” and I am so enjoying my life exactly as it is. Perhaps by teaching with a focus on a larger goal, I am finally learning the lesson of love and joy for myself. I think you are called to teach what you need to learn. I’ve heard it referred to as the “wounded healer”. It is your own hurt that gives a measure of your power to promote healing.
“People who love themselves and live their Spirit are not necessarily subjected to any fewer challenges in life than those who rely solely on their egos and intellect to guide them. Life is life. Loving and living the Spirit within doesn’t prevent you from facing life’s storms. It does, however, greatly assist you in navigating the treacherous waters as painlessly and creatively as possible. And it allows you to do this while enjoying the journey.” ~ Sonia Choquette quote from her new book, The answer is simple…Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit.
Root Lock/Lift (Sanskrit term: Mula Bandha)
We’ve been focusing on the energetic knots or granthis, specifically the first knot located in the root chakra area. Root Lock/Lift affects your physical, energetic, and mental bodies. (For the purposes of this section, I’ll use “Root Lock” and “Root Lift” interchangeably. They refer to the same thing.) As mentioned in both the opening section and the Chakrascope section, the first “protective” knot/threshold in your energy body is located in the root chakra. Practicing root lift is said to help release the first knot so your energy can flow freely. So let’s focus on the “Root Lock Pose”!
Root lock is said to affect the mental/emotional body by helping to release stored emotions held in the muscles of the perineal and pelvic floor. Emotional releases can occur while practicing root lift, clearing the energy.
Root Lock/Lift grounds you. I encourage my students to engage root lift and belly lock (udiyana Bandha in Sanskrit) throughout their yoga practice holding them at a low level of about two on a scale of 1 – 10. It makes your poses more efficient, safer, and powerful. My suggestions to practice root lock/lift is based upon a gentle practice vs. some of the more advanced practices. (See the “Try this” demo suggestion below.)
Alignment Cues: Gently engage and lift the muscles of the pelvic floor—the muscles located in the diamond from the pubic bone in front, the tailbone in back and the sitting bones on either side. This activates your inner thighs and core which then stabilizes your pose. Root lock is sometimes referred to as being similar to “kegel” move with the comparison of how it feels to stop your flow of urination. “Root lock is the contraction of three small muscles within the perineum. Picture the base of your pelvis as a diamond, with a line drawn horizontally across the middle to create two triangles. The upper triangle is the perineum. The lower triangle is the sphincter muscle, which should remain relaxed.” (Beth Shaw’s YogaFit®).
Active muscles: levator ani, coccygeus, pyramidalis (wraps into lower belly)
Mula Bandha power flow: For more challenge, check out this great flow by one of my favorite teachers—Sadie Nardini
As a way to bring home the effect of holding root lift and belly lock, try this fun demo with a friend:
I will never forget doing this in class one time and a student was so amazed at the increased strength in her fingers while holding the bandhas that she blurted out excitedly: “What just happened here?!” This exercise really brings home the power of the bandhas to increase the efficiency of your yoga practice as well as the protective strengthening power it will bring to your everyday life once it becomes an habitual “hold” for you as you exert physical effort.
Contraindications and cautions: Approach the practice of all bandhas/locks cautiously, especially without the direct guidance of an experienced teacher.
Spiritual aspects of Root Lock/Lift: Root lock/lift activates the root chakra and, with continued practice, helps release the knot/granthi there, allowing your energy to flow freely. We must unlock the blocks in all three knots to release your potential energy stored there and become all that you were meant to be. Some refer to this as “enlightenment”. Chakra meditation, yoga asana, and pranayama are all ways to clear your blocked energy. Clearing the way for your potential to rise—your spiritual, emotional, and physical potential—is, in my opinion, why we are here.
In the opening section, I used a quote from one of the Enrichuals© cards created by Suzanne Vadnais Monson’s. I was lucky enough to have found her “enchanted jewelry” card prior to finding the complete deck of cards. (Available for purchase at www.betterdayyoga.com.)
I used to make and sell beaded jewelry, so this particular card spoke to me. Knowing that you can energize your jewelry with intention may seem a bit whoo-whoo for you, but how is that any different than your sending a prayer to the Universe for good intentions to happen? It’s all energy.
Since the opening section referred to a piece of jewelry made with an intention built in, I’m using the meditation on this card to inspire you to create your own intention jewelry. If you create in other ways—such as paints, drawings, music, or any other creative endeavor, put your intention meditation into that creation!
Also, if you’re not the creative type, you could still use the meditation to hold an already completed bracelet, watch, or other object like a crystal stone, river rock, or lucky penny in your hands and empower it with your intention. You can then continue to meditate with your “piece” whenever you are inspired upon its completion. Her card has more suggestions. Again, it’s all energy, and we all have the magic inside! Set it free!
Dreams come a size too big so that we can grow into them ~ Josie Bissett
What do you want more of in your life? Create a piece of jewelry to symbolize your desire and focus your intention. As you think about this, let your intuition guide you to the perfect elements to include in your design. It can be anything that appeals to you.
Gather your elements in a place where you will be undisturbed for at least ten minutes. Hold the items you have selected in your hands and close your eyes. Take some deep breaths and relax your body and mind, breathing in fresh possibility and breathing out any garbage you may be carrying around. When you feel ready, visualize what it is you are hoping to accomplish. Take your time and really experience this possibility as if it is real. When you feel a strong “click” of connection with your new reality, imagine you are channeling this powerful energy into your elements.
(Perhaps add the affirmation from Coventry Creations’ prosperity candle—emphasis added: “I am filled with the unlimited abundance of the universe and manifest all that I need!” I say this several times and feel the excitement/energy build.)
Open your eyes and assemble your amulet, asking for intuition to guide your hands as you work to create a piece of personal magic. If making jewelry is new to you, look for some of the great books that show the variety of materials and techniques available, like The Best Little Beading Book.
Try some of these ideas: make a crystal dream catcher, a necklace or bracelet with semi-precious gemstones and charms, or how about a key chain composed of shells and wooden beads? Let your creation remind you of what you intend to attract whenever you see it.
On the reverse side of the card she has various fun quotes—
If you found the above interesting, please consider taking my meditation “how to” classes. Visit my Web-site, www.betterdayyoga.com, for details.
If you are familiar with chakras, then you can tell from my logo that I love chakras. The rainbow-colored spheres within my logo are representative of the chakra system within the body.
If you are unfamiliar, here’s a quick lesson: There are seven energy centers called chakras (literally “wheels”) that store energy/life force/prana. They are along the spinal column and correlate to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column. Each has a different relationship to a gland in the body’s endocrine system. Each stimulates different organs and systems in the body. Hatha Yoga activates these energy centers releasing the energy that flows through the spine. Yoga helps these energy centers/nerve bundles to function correctly clearing blocks that may be there. Each chakra also is associated with a mental/emotional focus. In each newsletter I’ll highlight how you can work with a particular chakra to correspond with the season.
I’ve been writing about the chakras since my premiere newsletter back in November 2009! Since the opening section talked about the knots/granthis, I thought I’d write a bit more about the knots and, in particular, the first knot which is located in the root chakra/muladhara chakra.
As mentioned in the opening section, Knots are considered “thresholds” where the energy gets stuck. When energy is stuck at the various thresholds, it develops a physical “pathology” specific to that area of the body. When the knots clear, we become “aligned with the truth of our nature, and the symptoms disappear.” (Source: Kundalini Rising. Exploring the energy of awakening by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Andrew Newberg, Sivananda Rhada, Ken Wilber, and John Selby.)
The energy that is getting stuck is referred to as Kundalini energy. I wrote about Kundalini energy in my August 2011 newsletter. Here’s an excerpt from that newsletter:
“In Sanskrit, Kundalini means ‘life energy’. Known as the serpent energy in Hinduism, the first culture known to have labeled this mysterious force, kundalini is the natural divine energy inside of you. Your kundalini is the life force of your body that, when fully activated, leads to living as an enlightened sage.
If you were able to fully draw on your kundalini, the life force that lies within, what might you do? Well, you could lasso the stars and pull them to earth, plant your dreams in the soil and grow love, laugh in the wind, and heal the world. You could write your name in the water, author your life, and sing with the Divine.
At some level, kundalini has already been accomplishing all this and more for you. You’ve already been exercising its enchantment to become the great person you are. As mysterious as its name and as magical as its origin, kundalini has been pulsing in your body since you were conceived, performing tasks as basic as igniting the electricity in your cells and as elusive as attracting others to you.
Kundalini is a god energy, and as such, it nourishes your uniqueness and upholds your sacred vocation. Since it originates from the Divine Source, it also interconnects you with all living beings, as well as with the Divine itself. Because of these connections, to tap into your kundalini is to open the channel to your intuition, to begin to hear the messages in the wind, to receive revelations colored with inspiration, and to know the unknowable. In short, kundalini allows you to be you—and encourages others to be themselves.” Kundalini Divine Energy & Divine Life by Cyndi Dale.
How many of you want more of that?! “When kundalini wakes up, it primarily travels upward through our various energy bodies and channels, parts of the energetic anatomy that create and sustain our physical body. Energy is information that vibrates, and guess what kundalini does? It shakes up the energy of our body, mind, and soul.
The kundalini first rises through energy channels along our spine. These energy channels are called the nadis, and as the kundalini climbs through them, it activates the seven chakra energy centers also positioned along our spine, our center axis, and connecting our spiritual and physical selves.” Kundalini Divine Energy & Divine Life by Cyndi Dale.
I’ve read that the knots are there has a protective shield—a circuit breaker, if you will. Each knot will only open up to let the energy release if you are able to handle it energetically—mentally, physically and spiritually. I equate it to a divine “high five”. As you become more and more connected with your true spiritual nature, and as you take care of your energy body, your knots are free to release their potential energy. It reminds me of the quote on the following picture.
“If God Brings You To It, He Will Bring You Through It.”
Or “God will never give you anything you can’t handle”. You life is a series of stepping stones leading you to the next best thing. You can’t skip a lesson because you need to have the knowledge and stability of the previous lesson to be able to fully digest, understand, and accept the next one. The knots are here to make sure the energetic way is clear and that you’re ready to take it on.
“Following the path toward fulfilling my spirit…all other journeys can wait.” ~ Author unknown
I remember my first “energy work” class over twenty years ago. The instructor cued the students to close their eyes and “run” their energy in figure eights up and down their energy bodies pulling energy up from the earth. While she had just described what she wanted us to do, I was in the “what the heck?” stage. I remember closing my eyes along with all the others, and then peaking out ever so slightly to “see” if I could sense what the others were doing. Little did I know at the time, the “running of my eights” exercise would become a staple in all of my visualization/mediation/centering exercises. I needed to experience it as a lesson, work with it, learn it, and practice being it before I could embody it without effort. Just like riding a bike! Once I believed in it, I could easily feel it.
“You’ll see it when you believe it.” ~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (Book by the same title is an excellent book!)
Likewise, if someone had told me ten years ago that I would quit my full-time corporate job 3 ½ years ago and teach yoga, facial exercise/acupressure/self-massage, and meditation classes full time, and write regularly for my own and other websites, I wouldn’t have believed them. Yet here I am; and I am able to walk this path, with all of its wonderful, synchronistic twists and turns, because I took the steps in between to “try this life on” and to believe in living on purpose.
“Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ~ Joseph Campbell.
I won’t say it was a piece of cake. At first my self-esteem dropped tremendously. I was too attached to equating who I was with my old job title—with what I “did”. That’s attaching to the physical, the material. I cried a lot in those first few months. It wasn’t until I fully believed in myself and my gifts that I started to detach from having a “career” and align myself more with having a “life purpose” and living “on purpose”.
You can have both, to be sure, but for me a “life purpose” is what we should all be striving for behind the “career”. THAT will make your life’s work pop with magic and energize you because then and only then does the Universe conspire for your full expression!
Don’t worry about what the world wants from you, worry about what makes you come more alive. Because what the world really needs are people who are more alive. Your real job is to increase the color and zest of your life. ~ Lawrence Leshan
As mentioned in the opening section, this first knot, located in the root chakra, is “Known as the knot of names and forms, the world of ambitions and desires..” The Chakra Bible by Patricia Mercier.
The root chakra is about being centered, grounded, safe and secure—which is what I was pining after once I quit my corporate job. Yet modern lifestyles, by their nature, can pull you off center—whether you just quit your job or not. The crazier your world becomes, the more you gravitate toward safety and security. You might even tend toward reaching for safety and security over venturing out and putting yourself out there in the world as I admitted to in the opening section.
Well if the first knot is about ambitions and desires and it’s located in the safety and security chakra, can you see the possible conflict to overcome? Remember, the first knot remains shut until you have overcome your attachment to stability, inertia and identification with the physical alone. When you can experience your life force moving forward in the direction of your ambitions and desires, yet remain detached from the physical trappings of what you equate those desires to, you’re on the right track!
Remember it’s a focus on the bigger picture vs. the details. Bigger picture is end result—love and joy and expressing that. Expressing that is your purpose. Details are: “How do I get there? What do I do to achieve that?” “What’s in it for me?” When you do things with love, people are attracted to it and come back for more. Surround all of your endeavors with love and joy—simple but not easy, as stated earlier.
“Love responds to your invitation, love responds to imagination.” ~ Rush, Chain Lightning
“Eventually you will come to understand that love heals everything, and love is all there is.” ~Gary Zukav
You’ll never really have all the answers, but as you realize you need nothing “out there” to feel grateful, life becomes filled with constant joy. You begin to recognize your life as beautiful in every way and in every moment because you decided it is. Safety, security, and survival are a given in this frame of mind!
You no longer “need” anything in the physical realm other than what you already have. As a matter of fact, simpler is better.
“Observe for yourself how much of the time you measure how well you are doing in regard to your destination while ignoring how you really feel in the moment. Where are all the actual minutes, hours, and days of your life? Do they wait for you at some destination, or are they rapidly passing right now? Ask yourself, would you rather have a feeling of happiness in the moment-to-moment experience of your life, or in a few big bang-up episodes upon reaching various goals? You know the final destination of the physical body is decay and death, so why would you choose to measure your life by endings when all the experience, the felt sense of being alive, is in the journey?” ~ Buddhist teacher Phillip Moffitt
You’ll never have enough of something that doesn’t feed your soul. Having more “stuff” won’t fill you up because more stuff doesn’t really fill you, does it? All you need lies within—literally. True wealth has nothing to do with how much money you have. It is your gifts within that you are finally brave enough to share with others—because you finallybelieve in yourself enough to share them—that create true wealth. As you find the courage to share your gifts with others, you align with your own true nature; and as you align with your own true nature, in my humble opinion, that is the path toward releasing the first knot in your energy body.
Your work is to discover your work and then, with all your heart to give yourself to it.
It starts in your mind. You decide. Decide you are enough. That’s a very empowering statement. I started to write it just now as “I am good enough, smart enough, etc.”, and then I shortened it to I am enough, and then to “I am.”
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes, pointed out that “I am” are the two most powerful words in the English language. I think their power is in knowing you have all you need within. Affirm who you are constantly until it becomes who you are. Believe you deserve. Believe something wonderful is about to happen, because the Universe will always fill that void. Magic Happens!
When Buddha rose from under the Bodhi tree, it is said a monk approached him in utter amazement at his luminosity and asked, “O Holy One, what are you? You must be a God.”
Buddha, not thinking of himself as anything but present, answered, “No…not a God,” and kept walking.
But the dazzled monk persisted. “Then you must be a Deva,” and Buddha stopped and said, “No…not a Deva,” and kept walking.
Still the monk pursued him, “Then you must be Brahma himself!”
At this point, Buddha simply uttered, “No.”
The monk, confused, implored, “Then what are you—Tell me, please—what are you?!”
Buddha could not repress his joy and replied, “I am awake.”
Can it be that our purpose, no matter whom we run into, no matter what we are told, is simply to be awake?
Sit quietly and meditate on the things that have come to define you.
Feel what you do with your days and say, “I am more than my job.”
Feel where you sleep your nights and say, “I am more than where I live.”
Feel who you love and say, “I am more than my relationships.”
Feel all you have suffered and say, “I am more than my history.”
Feel your very name and say, “I am more than my name.”
Feel your breath enter and leave your heart and say without history or name,
“I am the flame of life living in this body.”
Source: The Book of Awakening. Having the Life You Want by Being Present in the Life You Have by Mark Nepo.
Protein (especially animal protein), root vegetables, edible and medicinal mushrooms, red-colored foods (apples, pomegranates, etc). And since February is known as American Heart Month and the “ultimate red month”, here’s a great link to an article about 5 Red Foods to Eat for Your Heart.
Do you crave salt like I do? Read on!
Salt relates closely to the root chakra. “The key emotional quality of this chakra is security, without which smooth social interaction and other vital activities fail. .. A similar proposition in Chinese physiology states that the kidneys rule the emotions fear and insecurity. Our desire for salt may reflect an internal wish for a more emotionally safe foundation, particularly in a modern society characterized by tremendous change and uncertainty. The anchor of security provided by salt is something to be highly valued. However, too much of an extreme substance such as salt causes it’s properties to reverse—kidney damage, fear, rigid legs and pelvis are all symptoms of a poor emotional and physical foundation resulting from excess salt.”
This wonderful, intriguing book goes on to say that “Salt has the unique ability to produce a quick mentally centering effect to counter the scattered consciousness caused by toxins, as well as to aid in general detoxification. According to the doctrine of signatures, an ancient principle still used in herbology and other forms of biologic medicine, a plant or substance will sometimes have a visual appearance which suggests its use. Salt has a crystalline structure which suggests definition and clarity. From our observation, salt promotes a lucid, grounded centered experience. The Inner Classic supports this view, telling us that salt in moderation strengthens the heart and mind.”
One last amazing thing: “Salt, on the other hand, alkalizes and thus is craved by those whose systems are overly acidic. This property of salt is one reason people heavily salt their meat, since meat strongly acidifies the human body. Similarly, adding a touch of salt to the cooking water of grains restores balance to these acid-forming foods.” The author goes on to warn that “despite the positive aspects of salt—it’s clarifying, alkalizing, purifying, and centering qualities—there is still great potential for its misuse.”
“Salt…is a grounding crystal that takes us down into the body/mind where well-centered concentration of matter attracts a clear perception of its opposite: Spirit (non-matter).” ~ Jacques De Langre, in Seasalt & Your Life.
Source: Healing with Whole Foods. Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford.
Root Chakra (Gonads) / “I KNOW” /
Security, survival, trust, relationships with money, home, and job. Essential oils to open and balance this chakra are Sandalwood, Patchouly, Grounding, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang. Rub one drop on
base of spine and then rub hands together and inhale 3x.
~ Bottoms of Feet ~
Always ground yourself before any type of meditation or spiritual
reflection/meditation. Essential oils that assist with this are
Grounding and Valor. Take one drop per foot; rub on bottom of foot
and on big toes. Inhale!
Also try: Vetiver, Ginger, Thyme, Basil, and Clary Sage.
If aromatherapy interests you, I use Young Living Essential Oils™ which are therapeutic, food-grade oils. Please inquire if you are interested in purchasing a favorite scent and I can add your request to my personal monthly order. Essential oils raise the vibrational frequency of the body. When the vibrational frequency of the body drops, we become more receptive to ill health: http://justalist.blogspot.com/2008/03/vibrational-frequency-list.html. Therapeutic-grade essential oils are great to have in your arsenal of health promoting natural products.
Gemstones amplify the energy when placed in contact with your chakras. For those of you unsure on this subject, consider that it’s scientifically proven that everything is energy. Nothing is really solid. Why wouldn’t the energy of a stone work effectively with the energy in our bodies just as some research speculates that the energy of computers, cell phones, and microwaves may affect our bodies? At the very least, I find that holding a favorite stone is like a talisman for me, or a “worry stone”. As my favorite author, Wayne Dyer, likes to say, “If it’s a placebo effect, I’ll take two”.
Some Muladhara Chakra gems are: Hematite—offers stress resistance; works as a protective shield (much like the knots!). Smoky Quartz—brings present focus, dissolves emotional blocks. Black Tourmaline—protects, calms and expels fear, best set in silver. Garnet—counters illusions; acts against depression, beats insecurity.
For some of these and other great root chakra stones, (Boji stones, Black Moonstone, Black Obsidian, Shiva Eye Agate, Shungite, Moqui (aka Shaman Stones), Onyx with Pyrite, and Snowflake Obsidian) check out http://www.crystallinelightshop.com/collections/crystals-root-chakra or you can also link to her Web site from my links page at www.betterdayyoga.com. I’ve known Jennifer, the owner, for many years and love her products (and her)!
All yoga poses essentially activate the chakras. The Charkascope section focuses on the mula bandha, or root lift/lock, which activates the root chakra. Also, using a block between the thighs a couple of inches above the knees in various poses such as chair, or even throughout a sun salutation (hopping into plank and mountain vs. stepping is required) helps to activate the root chakra.
Some yoga poses to stimulate the Muladhara chakra and “draw up earth energy” include (Please note all the links, except for the root visualization, go to my old website for information on the linked page only. All other pages are not current!):
Downward facing dog,
Chair pose (especially with the block mentioned in the previous paragraph), Cobbler’s pose (or as I like to refer to it: Butterfly pose),
Mountain pose (add a mountain scene meditation—I like to remind my students that in life we often climb the infamous “mountain”—work, work, work, sweat, sweat, sweat—and you finally reach the top. Most of us don’t take the time to enjoy the view up here. We only see the next mountain looming, challenging, calling your name. Take time to enjoy this moment, this mountain you just climbed, and remember you are on top of the world. (Derived from my wonderful “I Hope You Dance” journal by Mark D. Sanders & Tia Sillers.). Also, the act of pushing the “imaginary floor boards away with your feet” or “try to tear your yoga mat apart with your feet” activates the root chakra. Similarly adding foot lock in this pose stimulates the root chakra: (Lift the toes, spread them wide, plop them down. Feel the outer edges of your feet cup the mat.)
Child’s pose (add a relaxing forehead roll from left to right: Rolling over the third-eye activates the pineal gland, releasing melatonin, and promotes a relaxed nervous system. Rolling over the forehead points activates the reflexology points for worrying.)
Mudra means seal in Sanskrit. Its a symbolic or ritual gesture using primarily the hands. Each position is believed to have a specific effect. Specific positions can lead to specific states of consciousness symbolized by the hand positions. For example, if a person frequently and with feeling does a position of fearlessness, they will also be freed from fearfulness in time. Mudras are said to engage areas of the brain and/or soul influencing them, sometimes physically, by their usenot unlike an affirmation, or reflexology for that matter.
One way that all of us can better care for ourselves is by developing techniques for coping with the irritations and anxiety that are part of life
Think of these gestures as self-talk for your hands. These simple movements, the gestures that we often make unconsciously, can help us focus on our work, calm ourselves, release anger and energize us. Used for centuries by many different cultures, mudras are seen in Eastern dance and meditation, in ancient Egyptian friezes, even in Byzantine icons of Christ. Most of us use them today, too: we wave goodbye, we press a hand to our chest in distress, we wriggle our fingers to release energy, or press fingertips together to calm ourselves.
Easy to learn, mudras can be done anywhere, at any time: at traffic lights, in meetings, in airplanes, when were arguing, when were grieving, when we need to prepare for sleep. The word mudra can be translated from the Sanskrit as that which brings inner peace, and that s what mudras are: a physical means of quieting our bodies. Product description for Mudras: Ancient Gestures to Ease Modern Stress by Emily Fuller Williams.
I referenced a great article back in my September 2010 newsletter and its worth repeating:
I found this interesting reference to Yoga Mudras that details more of the science behind Mudras, as well as gives some meaning to the fingers emphasized:
A scientific look
Any living body is made of 5 distinct elements:
FIRE WIND ETHER EARTH WATER
These are not as per science’s definition of elements but refer to the five building blocks that go into the formation of any living body. Several ancient health systems are based on the concept of the balance of the five elements. Indian Medical science according to Ayurveda and metaphysics affirm that distortion or impairment of the 5 elements create outer disturbance and inner sickness in the body.
The 5 fingers of the hands represent these 5 elements:
|The Thumb||symbolizes the Fire|
|The Forefinger||symbolizes the Wind|
|The Middle finger||symbolizes the Ether|
|The Ring finger||symbolizes the Earth|
|The Little or small finger||symbolizes the Water|
The finger tips of every living being have many concentrated nerve root endings which are free energy discharge points. Science also confirms that around every tip there is a concentration of free electrons. By touching together of the tips of the fingers or the finger tips to other parts of the palms this free energy (Prana) is redirected back into the body along specified channels, back up to the brain. The redirected energy traveling through the nerves stimulates the various chakras. Keeping the hands on the knees stimulates the Gupta Nari and makes the energy start from the Mooladhara Chakra (Root Chakra).
Thus, the tension applied to the nerve/s and/or the neural or psycho-neural circuits formed by the mudras help in balancing the five basic elements (or building blocks). This balancing of the tension and redirection of the internal energy effects the changes in veins, tendons, glands and sensory organs, to bring the body back to a healthy state.
Keeping specified nerves stretched for specified periods tones up of the nervous system. The fingers of each hand are held folded in certain specific postures and this provides the required tension on the nerves.
The fingers of each and every individual in the world are different in their shapes and sizes. These are determined and provided by nature as a tool to bring the nerves into prime condition when affected adversely.
Thus, they provide a different ‘end tension’ on the nerves when different individuals fold their fingers or the same individual folds the fingers by different methods in different Mudras. This is exactly the tension required by that individual for that particular application. Nature has already bestowed us with the tools to be used to keep us healthy.
Compare this with Acupressure where the nerves are influenced by the application of pressure on certain points or Acupuncture, where slight electrical impulses are conveyed through needles inserted in the body. The advantage in Mudras is that the pressure to be applied on the nerves is automatic and controlled by the shape and size of the fingers and not by external agencies.
Because the Mudras work on the nerves, they are a NEURAL SCIENCE.
The ring finger is associated with the earth element which is associated with the root chakra. This newsletter focuses on the root chakra so I offer the following wonderful meditation on the ring finger found in Mudras, Yoga in your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi. The meditation reminds me of the protective knots/granthis highlighted in this newsletter; and how patience is required to release your potential energy, freeing it to move upward, to continue your growth and to live on purpose. “Time has no significance. Only the constant growth counts.”
The ring finger is associated with Apollo, the sun god, and the root chakra, which rules the pelvic floor. This force gives stamina, staying power, and the power to be assertive. The Chinese have classified this finer with the deep meridian of the liver. The power of the liver gives a person patience, serenity, hope, and vision for the future. The triple warmer also begins in the tip of the ring finger. This meridian rules all protective functions in the body and is responsible for body temperature, which in turn regulates cell function. If it works in an optimal manner, it gives the ability to maintain our equilibrium in stressful situations. The force that dominates this finger provides stability, is penetrating, and strives upward.
Sit or lie down. Now encircle your left ring finger with the four fingers of your right hand, with the right thumb extending to the middle of your left hand. Close your eyes.
Imagine bare earth and crushed rock in all its formsas deserts, mountains, and islands. What happens when masses of earth begin to move? When the earth dries out? When the earth is completely exposed to the sun? Now imagine fertile earth. Slowly let the vegetation be createdlittle plants, big plants, much green. Now focus on one single seed resting deep within the earth. With every breath, something moves inside until the seed bursts and a shoot stretches in the direction of the light. At the same time, it sprouts roots deep into the earth. It becomes a tree that grows very slowly. You wait patiently and watch how the plant develops into its full size. Time has no significance. Only the constant growth counts. The tree blooms anew every year, and bears fruit. Like the tree, we also do not know why this is. Like the tree, we want to give ourselves completely to life, and know this has its purpose, even if we will probably never be able to completely fathom the great mystery. As the tree changes every year, our inner development also continues. We decisively influence whether it is joyful or sorrowful.
Keep holding your finger for a while and feel the flowing warmth. Then encircle your right ring finger and hold it for the same amount of time.
Earlier in the book the author mentions that If you tend to be chilled easily (which I am!), or susceptible to illness, then encircle or massage your ring finger.
The words Department of Defense and yoga arent often uttered in the same breath, let alone in a long, conscious, exhale.
But preliminary results from a small study funded by the U.S. Defense Department, and led by a Harvard Medical School assistant professor, found that veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder showed improvement in their symptoms after ten weeks of yoga classes, including meditation and breathing, done twice a week, and fifteen minutes of daily practice at home.
PTSD is a disorder involving dysregulation of the stress response system, and one of the most powerful effects of yoga is to work on cognitive and physiological stress, says Sat Bir S. Khalsa, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and the principal investigator of the yoga study. What we believe is happening, is that through the control of attention on a target the breath, the postures, the body that kind of awareness generates changes in the brain, in the limbic system, and these changes in thinking focus more in the moment, less in the past, and it quiets down the anxiety-provoking chatter going on in the head. People become less reactive and the hormone-related stress cycle starts to calm down.
Full article at link:
Why the Military Uses Yoga to Treat PTSD
The take-orders mindset of the armed forces and the go-your-own-way flow of yoga seem totally opposed, but researchers believe that yoga can be an effective alternative therapy for PTSD among veterans returning home with physical and mental trauma. Studies show that yoga can unfreeze the nervous system, alleviating PTSD symptoms. Unlike prescription medications, yoga does not cause undesirable side effects like addiction, lethargy, or weight gain. Full article at link:
And more:Research on Yoga and PTSD:
One of my dearest friends cooks, bakes, and grills like a professional chef. She loves to chop vegetables, says things like “ramekins” and has her own tablecloth named after her—The Christine—for purchase at The Palate in Stockholm, WI: http://www.thepalate.net/. Preparing food has been her passion since before my husband and I met Christine and her husband, Mark, over 15 years ago. It has been our good fortune to be the lucky recipients of many delicious meals and absolutely wonderful times in their home. Since I am all about following our passion, this is my way of letting her have an outlet for hers. Enjoy!
Protein, especially from animal, root vegetables and mushrooms are all foods that are considered healing for the root chakra. The following recipe incorporates all of these foods for an earthy, satisfying meal that is especially comforting during the long winter evenings.
4 large potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
3 tbsp butter
¼ cup milk (Buttermilk works great) or you can substitute sour cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 lbs. of ground meat (can use beef, turkey, chicken or pork)
3 large carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
1 parsnip cut in 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
8 oz mushrooms sliced (1 package)
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup stock (beef, chicken or veggie)
1 tbsp cornstarch
Recipe – Boil potatoes in salt water for about 15 minutes (until soft when pierced with fork). When cooked, mash potatoes and add butter and milk. Add egg yolk and mix well.
While potatoes cook, sauté the carrots, parsnips, onions in olive. Cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat until browned.
Add the mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minute.
Add the ground meat and cook until browned.
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
Add Worcestershire sauce.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add cornstarch to cold stock and mix well.
Add the stock to pan and simmer for 5 mins.
Pour mixture into casserole dish. Spoon mashed potatoes on top and smooth over mixture.
Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes until top is brown and mixture bubbly.
Earlier I quoted Cyndi Dale from her book, Kundalini Divine Energy & Divine Life: Energy is information that vibrates, and guess what kundalini does? It shakes up the energy of our body, mind, and soul. Well, this CD shakes up your energybody, mind, and soul!
If you love drums, youll love this lively CD! And if you love all things chakra, as I do, as an added plus, youll activate and stimulate your chakras with each track dedicated specifically to a particular chakra. Listen to the whole album for a powerful chakra workout and work in. The artist, Glen Velez, suggests moving as the body wills to enhance the healing energy your specific body needs, or use it as a powerful meditation tool. Bring your attention to the chakra for which the piece was written and notice what sensations arise there and elsewhere in your body as you move to the rhythm .Synchronizing drumming, movement, and voice yields significant benefits for anyone interested in their own well-being. (From the booklet enclosed with the CD.) Enjoy!
Product Description: Glen Velez is a world-class percussionist and sound healer and is responsible for a worldwide resurgence in the popularity of the frame drum. He has studied under various cultures and incorporates drumming techniques from South India, Asia, Egypt and elsewhere on this album.
You can hear the full CD during one of my yoga classes, or purchase it for your own listening pleasure at: http://www.soundstrue.com/shop/Rhythms-of-the-Chakras-Volume-2/1681.pd or http://www.amazon.com/Glen-Velez/e/B000AP5DPW/ref=ac_dpt_sa_link