Tag Archives: October 2012

11
October

“What turns inspiration into conversation? The power of positivity. Gains worth celebrating. And a single moment of meaningful change…” ~ Special K™ Movement manifesto

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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“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!

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.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“What turns inspiration into conversation?
The power of positivity
Gains worth celebrating
And a single moment of meaningful change…” ~ Special K™ Movement manifesto

 

A couple of years ago I did a blog on slogans and asked what your tagline would be if you had one. I’ve always been attracted to good slogans. Being a fan of affirmations, I’m attracted to slogans that make you feel good. I’ve gathered a handful of new favorite slogans to share and invite you to ponder the slogans and taglines appearing in your life as a way to feel good inside. You won’t be bereft of advertising any time soon you may as well find a way to make the most of them, right?

 

“Celebrate the kid inside” /
“Let your inner kid loose” ~ OREO Cookies!

The impetus to gather another round of fun slogans came from a teeny tiny ad on my iPhone. At first I was just annoyed, as ads can sometimes do when they appear in the way of what you are trying to read, but then I saw the message and it made me smile. I often use affirmations in my yoga classes and one of them is from Wayne Dyer—“Don’t let an old person inside your body”.  And then another is “You will always be that young girl.” (Or guy, of course, when there are guys in the class!)

So when “Let your inner kid loose” appeared at the bottom of my iPhone, I left it there to peak at throughout the day. It was an invitation you couldn’t resist. Their website has a contest to “Bring out the kid in all of us” and I can only say “Bravo!” Watch this 30 second commercial and try not to tear up…I do every time. “You do something to me that nobody else could do.” Your inner child can do that.

Don’t you love the concept of Oreo Cookies celebrating 100 years by celebrating the kid inside? That’s the way to do it! You can do that too! You’re never too old to let your inner kid loose!

I love the sign at the end—“Next Stop:  Childhood” Let Oreo cookies take you there. Why not? What is your ticket to letting your inner kid loose? Find the trigger! Perhaps it is an Oreo cookie! If it is, use it! Perhaps it’s something else, but whatever it is, find it and pull the trigger! Which leads me to the next great slogan…


“Find what speaks to you” ~ Pier 1 Imports!

Just being open to the messages the Universe is sending you can open the floodgates to receiving more. One of the great gifts of a yoga practice is noticing the subtleties of messages you receive from your body, mind, and spirit. If you aren’t tuned in, you won’t get the right channel, right?

Finding what speaks to you might be easy—the messages might be “loud and clear”. If so, that’s great! But what about the subtle ones that may go unnoticed if you aren’t paying attention? What about the joy you get out of a great cup of coffee first thing in the morning—that you don’t always have time for, or perhaps don’t take the time for? You might not notice the good mood or peaceful feeling that stays with you the whole day when you start your day out right. Start noticing. What speaks to you? Is it the good mood you suddenly acquired? Or contentment for no reason that you can put your finger on  or a boost in self-esteem that magically happened? Find what speaks to you!

My regular readers know how much I love affirmations. My usual morning practice includes yoga, a sitting meditation, and affirmations. When I expanded my AM yoga practice, my sitting meditation practice fell to the wayside for a bit, as did the affirmations—the two are intertwined for me. Either in the middle or at the end of my mantra meditation, I have a series of chakra balancing prayers and affirmations that includes my own personal loving kindness meditation. I could tell fairly quickly by my general mood that I was feeling incomplete and down on myself more than usual. I’m happy to say I’m back to my full morning practice.

Notice when you are in a good mood and try to figure out what brought it on. What speaks to you? Listen!

And while I know retail therapy can be an addiction, if you love something enough that it speaks to you for several days after you’ve seen it in the store, perhaps it’s worth figuring out how to attain it—reasonably. I mean we all love the way too expensive things, right? But what if you saved up for the one thing that really made your heart sing? Only you can decide what your heart loves—and your budget can afford. I remember taking a class at the Open U / Learning Annex years ago and the speaker said if there’s something that makes you feel good about yourself, get it, buy it, be it. There’s some magic in that statement. Find what speaks to you.

 

“Create Wonder” ~ Samsung!

What surrounds us and what we choose to surround ourselves with defines how we live, what we do, and who we are….” –Part of the Samsung message: http://vimeo.com/41963210

This statement ties into the Open U speaker I listened to years ago. Look around your environment. What have you chosen to surround yourself with? It’s a common Feng Shui suggestion that if something in your environment sends you bad feelings—the holiday ornament that makes you feel guilty because you didn’t treat that person too nice once, or the decor you display because you feel obligated to but can’t stand—you should remove it. Makes sense to me! Is there something in your environment not sending you good juju? Remove it! Is there something you simply love to look at—add more of that.

I love Quan Yin—the Goddess of mercy and compassion—she makes me feel peaceful and protected simply looking at her image. It stems from an Asian lady statue/lamp we had in my childhood home. I didn’t realize the connection until I was an adult. I simply knew that I loved Quan Yin, but wasn’t sure how it came to be until one day it hit me. I realized that as a child, this Asian lady statue/lamp struck me with awe and dare I say “wonder”? It was as though she was watching over our whole household. Finding out she was the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion was simply an added bonus. Knowing that her image comforts me, I’ve chosen to add her into my environment as a way of adding peace. My yoga room contains two Quan Yins; my home—several! You can do that too. How can you create wonder in your life?

“The screen is your canvas to create wonder. Transform what you’ve captured into what you imagine.”—Both messages from Samsung’s SmartCamera campaign under the heading “Express Yourself”.  There is something very magical in the invitation to “create wonder” and “express yourself”, don’t you think? Have you ever thought about your ability to “create wonder”? Yes—you have the ability to create wonder. Do you have a hard time believing that statement? Who am I to think I can create wonder? Create wonder?! Yes! You can!

Don’t like photography? No worries! You can use those cues for ideas too. Once you’ve “captured” an idea in your mind to create wonder, transform it into what you imagine. Do you imagine a fun get-away weekend? Plan for it—transform your idea into reality. Do you imagine a perfect job? Write out the details of perfect job—“just for fun”. Remember writing it down gives it a life in your psyche. “Write it down, make it happen.” What do you have to lose?


“What will you gain when you lose?” ~ Special K™!

“The Special K™ Movement

It’s time to start a movement.
Let’s rise up
Join together
And change the way we talk about weight loss.

Because when we lose weight, we gain something, too.
It’s an emotion—a spark— that comes
from achieving our best selves.

What turns inspiration into conversation?
The power of positivity
Gains worth celebrating
And a single moment of meaningful change.

Starting today—and everyday—
We can radiate confidence
We can claim our own authentic beauty
And inspire our friends to do the same.

It’s time to change the conversation.

Joy. Vitality. Moxie. Sass.
What will you gain when you lose?
Rise up and declare your gain to the world.”

What a great idea—instead of focusing on loss, focus on the gain as a result of the loss! It’s seeing the glass as half full. It’s looking for the silver lining, because there always is one. Perhaps it’s looking at the lesson, and how that lesson helped you to move forward in a better way. If you didn’t have the darkness, you wouldn’t know or appreciate the light. The darkness literally helps to define the light.

Perhaps your silver lining it’s that “spark” they mention in their “movement” manifesto above—the spark that comes from achieving your best self. Remember it’s the friction that polishes the lump of coal into a diamond. Without the friction, there’s no diamond.

“It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here right now…with its aches and its pleasures…is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.” ~ Pema Chödrön.

Sometimes loss requires a moment of regrouping—yes. But to stay down is not the answer. Focusing on “what’s next” helps you get up and figure out what you’ve gained from your loss. It could be you’ve gained the ability to keep on getting up. THAT is crucial—to keep on keeping on.

One of my best friends is a breast cancer survivor. She shared a story with me about a nurse who was discussing how the treatment (chemotherapy and radiation) affects various women. When my friend shared her thought that the side effects must be harder the older you get, the nurse’s response was the exact opposite. She said that older women have seen it all. They can handle more than most. They realize that in life things happen—you figure out how to keep on keeping on. THIS is one of the gifts of getting older.

Fall down seven times; get up eight ~ Japanese Proverb.

So how do you achieve your best self? Only you can answer that. What are you holding onto that you’re afraid to lose? Be it weight, am unfulfilling job, or a negative friend who drains your spirit—write down what you’ll gain when you lose and dwell on that. Be like Special K™ and “re-frame loss from deprivation to inspiration.  It really isn’t about what you have to lose—it’s all about what you have to gain.” Believe it. http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2012/special-k-what-will-you-gain/


“Believe—because it works” ~ Weight Watchers®

I love the word “believe”. I own several rocks that have that word on it. It’s an affirmation in and of itself and attracts forces in you that you didn’t know you had. Yes—it’s magical!

The video below starts out withI am you and you are me.” This phrase resonates perfectly with the definition of “Namaste”:

“The divine in me recognizes and honors the Divine in you. I greet that place where you and I are one. I honor the place in you, which is of love, of truth, of light and of peace.” ~ Ram Dass.

Recognizing that we are each Divine—the same Divine—creates trust, unity, and strength. Believe because it works. Believe because without belief it won’t work! Believe in yourself—in your goals, in your efforts, in your greater self. Believe in the greater good of all people—because “I am you and you are me.”

“From The Secret Daily Teachings

Ask, Believe, Receive – just three simple steps to create what you want. However, very often the second step, believe, can be the most difficult one. And yet it is the greatest step you will ever take. Believing contains no doubt. Believing does not waiver. Believing is absolute faith. Believing remains steadfast despite what is happening in the outside world.

When you master believing, you have mastered your life.”

Source: http://mail.aol.com/37058-111/aol-6/en-us/mail/DisplayMessage.aspx?ws_popup=true




“Challenge what’s possible” ~ Olay®

What you think is possible is filtered through your own personal beliefs. If your background and life history contains a story—it will be difficult to conceive of another version of the story. Perhaps your parents or older siblings have repeated the phrase, “Oh it’s because I’m old.” Or, “They say you fall apart after 40.” That’s simply not true!

We’ve all fallen prey to outdated beliefs—that ache or pain that you think isn’t going to go away because you’re of a “certain age”; or the idea that you can’t do something because you’re too old.

As I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite affirmations is: “I’ll always be that young girl.” Dwelling on that makes me smile and gives me a sense of confidence so why dwell on the alternative? Visualize the younger you—and know that younger you is still inside.  Where else would she be? Your younger you is what made who you are today, so all of that younger you is still in there!

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. ~ Madeleine L’Engle

More than once in the past when I had a major pain in my body I thought I’d just have to live with because I was over 40. Get over it! I’m over that kind of thinking and I’m here to tell you, your body heals at all ages! Your body is designed to regenerate constantly! It uses your mind power as part of the fuel—so be careful what you put into your mind.

If you aren’t healing the way you want to, try other options. Don’t be complacent. Challenge what’s possible! There’s always other options! And remember, “healing” may or may not be “cure”.

I remember buying some skincare items at the local store and the wonderful checkout lady sharing “at least you are still making the effort”. Of course I am! Another favorite mantra of mine is “I’m goin’ down fightin’!”

Old age is fifteen years older than I am. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Defining what you think beauty is isn’t the question here—it’s being the most beautiful you because you radiate from inside. Who needs “perfection”? What’s more, who can define it? As they say “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Taking care of yourself—mind, body and soul—will resonate more than physical beauty. You’ll be unstoppable!

Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty – they merely move it from their faces into their hearts. ~ Martin Buxbaum

Feeling good about how you look is essential to your self-esteem, and taking excellent care of your emotional health and well-being can make your RealAge™ as much as 16 (!) years younger.” (Source:  RealAge.com)

When it comes to staying young, a mind-lift beats a face-lift any day.  ~ Marty Bucella

Here’s a Daily Holistic Beauty Regimen: Try these five habits on. Perhaps add one a day to your life and practice it mindfully for twenty-one consecutive days.

HABIT #1 – Explore PEACE: I will practice inner quiet and tranquility at least one hour a day.

HABIT #2 – Explore MENTAL CLARITY & FOCUS: I will practice doing one thing at a time for as long as I can.

HABIT #3 – Explore JOY:  I will practice creating and experiencing moments of joy until my life becomes a joy-based life.

HABIT #4 – Explore CREATIVITY, CONNECTION & CONTRIBUTION: I will practice creating daily. I will practice listening to others like every word they say is from the Divine. I will practice contributing to others with no strings attached. (Note: You can also do these three things simultaneously.)

HABIT #5 – Explore STUNNING HEALTH: I will practice only consuming things that will add life and vitality to my body.

Another way to integrate these habits slowly is to add one habit per week and practice for twenty-one consecutive days. Tip: Be easy with yourself and have fun with it.

Holistic Beauty: This perspective of beauty is a function of your whole, perfect and complete wellness. It’s a stunning and magnetic beauty that oozes from your insides. It’s how you retire in the evening, give thanks for the day and consume the miracles of nature as fuel to realize your ultimate destiny. It’s how you celebrate our respective cultures, and present the gift of yourself to others. It’s a beauty that says that everyone can be a rockstar by tapping in and utilizing what you have at your finger tips. Like Cracker Jack’s, there is a guaranteed prize inside of you (and in each one of us). Everyone is a gift and that gift deserves a lovely package.”

~ Excerpted from OMTimes Magazine article, Beauty v. Holistic Beauty: 5 New Habits, by Akua Auset, September 2012.


                                                    Image Credit:  Sakari Graphics

 

It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them ~ Volkswagen

I saw this commercial the night before I was going to release my newsletter. The commercial is a testament to the healing benefits of laughter yoga.  An excerpt from my June 2012 newsletter:

Not only is it healthy to learn to laugh at yourself, it’s very healthy to learn to laugh whenever you can; and if you can’t, fake it. There’s healing in laughter. “…laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being.” http://www.holisticonline.com/Humor_Therapy/humor_therapy_benefits.htm

Have you tried a laughter yoga class before? “I went to a seminar on laughter yoga, and I felt elated for hours later. I didn’t have any pain,” When you combine laughter and breathing, there’s healing there. ~ Jody Ross, certified yoga laughter leader. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/06/laughter-yoga-benefits_n_1478960.html?ref=healthy-living

The tagline—It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them—speaks to your heart. My mantra: It’s the quality of your life every day that matters. So be on notice for the things that add to the quality of your life. I am finding myself saying “That makes me smile” more and more. It’s another phrase I use to “call out” the precious moments that make up the quality of my life.  (Another is “This very moment” whenever I want to claim it as precious.) Yesterday it came out as I watched a squirrel bouncing across our path as my husband and I went for a walk. Earlier, it was the call of the robin in the area. You know the one, it sounds like a giggle to me, and it happens around the 24 second mark in this link. For me, this sound is the sound of summer. So hearing it now–in the midst of fall, makes me smile. What makes you smile?

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we takebut by the moments that take our breath away. ~ Hilary Cooper

 

 

“Open up and invite life in.” ~ SC Johnson’s, Glade®

Glade was part of my last slogan article in 2010 as well. Then it was “Release the magic™”. What can I say? I like their slogans! (Truthfully, anything with the word “magic” in it appeals to me!)

The lesson here is open up! If you aren’t open to new adventures, new ways of being, new thoughts, new emotions, then you will stagnate just as you are. Remember the earlier slogan, what will you gain when you lose? Lose the old stuff!

“If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.”

“I am open to possibilities.”

“If you want tomorrow to be different from today, you’ll need to take yourself off autopilot and make different decisions today than the ones you made yesterday.”

 

“Make something amazing.” ~ Kraft

When I went to Kraft’s website today to check out their “Make something amazing” campaign, I found that they have other phrases following “make something”. They’re all absolutely inspiring: Make something sizzle. Make something wondrous. Make something with a touch of awesome. Make something authentic. Make something a little better. It’s amazing to me what an affirmation can do for the spirit.

Each and every one of these phrases speaks to your ability to create the life YOU want—you have the ability, and only you, to do that for yourself! And if you’re going to create something, it may as well be amazing, sizzling, wondrous, awesome, authentic and better! Why not? Not feeling up to the challenge? Let Marianne Williamson’s famous poem answer your fears:

“A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

So make something—anything—amazing! Make your life amazing! Use the power of your mind with each and every thought to affirm your amazing, sizzling, wondrous, awesome, authentic, better life!


11
October

Locust (Sanskrit term: Salambhasana)

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Empower Your Yoga Practice
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Locust (Sanskrit term: Salambhasana)

This month’s opening section above is on using the slogans and taglines you see every day to your best advantage—as life affirming reminders. Viewing advertising as an affirmation is perhaps a new concept for you. It will take some baby steps to get there. Yoga poses are like that too. Locus Pose is best approached in baby steps. Make sure you are okay in the previous poses and then you’re ready!

Benefits: 

  • Strengthens: glutes, upper back, lower back, backs of the arms and legs
  • Stretches: Hip flexors, abs, chest, shoulders, thighs
  • Stimulates abdominal organs
  • Aids digestion
  • Improves stamina
  • Relieves stress
  • Opens your heart energetically (stimulates heart chakra)
  • Stimulates the solar plexus chakra, which contains your power (highlighted chakra)
  • Helps to relieve constipation and indigestion


Alignment Cues: 
Lie face-down on your stomach, forehead resting on the mat your palms face-down underneath your shoulders to start. Curl your tailbone toward the floor to release and protect your low back throughout this pose. Engage your inner thighs, your abs and glutes as you lift your upper body off the ground starting with basic cobra pose Feel a line of energy from head to toe. Keep the chin tucked, softening the neck. Press your hips into the floor and your shoulder blades down your back. If you are still doing okay, lift your legs off the ground, keeping the top of each thigh still touching. Finally, if you are still doing okay, reach your arms behind you, palms up and hovering for full locust pose. 

Beginners: 

  • Option to keep your forehead on the floor, palms underneath your shoulders as above, and lift one leg then drop it back down, and then lift the other leg and drop it back down to see how this affects your low back.  If you are doing okay with the above, option to lift both legs off the ground at the same time, keeping the top of the thighs still touching, and the forehead down on the mat. 
  • Option to just lift the upper body, leaving the legs down—reaching the arms behind you, palms up and hovering. 

Focus on lengthening more than lifting.  Reach forward through the crown of your head and back through your toes.

Add a prop:

  • “Place a block along the inner edges of your feet from your inner heel to your big toe. Play with the width of the block: If your low back is stiff, use the widest dimension. To keep the sacrum wide, resist gripping in the buttocks. Draw the outer legs down to the floor while reaching the inner thighs to the ceiling. Visualize the backs of your legs widening. If this is hard to access, press your thumbs onto the center of the buttocks and strongly move the buttock flesh away from your lumbar area. Press the center of the buttocks toward your heels as you lift the thighs (keep the block on the floor).”  http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2714
  • You might want to add a blanket below the pelvis and/or ribs for comfort. (Not Shown)
  • You can also place a block between your inner thighs just above the knees. This facilitates the inward thigh spiral as well as activates the root chakra for grounding.
  • Add a strap around the ankles. This pose may help stabilize the Sacroiliac joint. “Strap your ankles 8 to 12 inches apart. Lie on your belly with you arms alongside your body, palms facing up. As you inhale, lift your arms, legs, and chest up. Pulling the legs strongly outward against the strap may relieve sacroiliac symptoms; it contracts outer hip muscles (gluteus medius and minimus) that put the ilium bones apart, temporarily creating a gap between the sacrum and the ilium to give the sacrum the freedom to move back into place. Introduce this pose gradually and back off immediately if it causes discomfort.” Yoga Journal, March 2008 issue.


Variation: 
Clasp hands behind you with arms straight to further open your heart center and unfurl your curled shoulders. 

Advanced version:  For more challenge, try Sea Monster Pose/ Makarasana.  Legs stay the same but the fingers are clasped with palms pressed against the back of the head.  

Contraindicated for those with serious back injury.  Those with neck injuries should keep the head neutral by looking down at the floor.

Spiritual aspects of Locust Pose: Locust pose activates your solar plexus chakra—your willpower chakra; your right to act. It also activates your heart chakra—your right to love and be loved. Locust pose connects you to your inner fire—to your spirit within. Connecting your willpower to your heart empowers your actions to be heart focused.

Backbends help to relieve depression. They encourage your inner fire to rise up. Feel this energy as your inner wisdom. Access your inner wisdom through locust pose. As you raise your upper body you raise the blinds on your inner strength and wisdom.  Activate what lies within your heart.

Sources:  Yoga Journal.com, and Yoga Journal magazine
Beth Shaw’s YogaFit®, The program for a more powerful, flexible, and defined physique, Second Edition

 

10
October

Beauty v. Holistic Beauty: 5 New Habits

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magic of Yoga and Meditation
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I quoted from this great article in the opening section. It’s from OMTimes Magazine, Beauty v. Holistic Beauty: 5 New Habits, by Akua Auset, September 2012.

The following questions are also from that article. Sometimes you need to ask questions as a form of meditation. We so rarely take time to ask ourselves some important questions and listen for the answers. Some people refer to prayer as the asking and meditation as the listening. Let’s do an exercise. Sit in quiet and answer the following questions:

1. Am I peaceful?  What keeps me from experiencing peace? What gives me peace?

2. Do I have mental clarity?  Am I able to focus on one thing at a time? How present can I be in every moment of the day?

3. Do I feel joy in my life? What gave me joy when I was a child? What gives me joy now?

4. What am I creating that excites me? Who do I connect with that inspires me? How do I contribute that fulfills me?

5. How do I care for myself? Am I consuming things that contribute to my radiant health?

~ Excerpted from OMTimes Magazine article, Beauty v. Holistic Beauty: 5 New Habits, by Akua Auset, September 2012.

 

If you found the above interesting, please consider taking my meditation “how to” classes.  Visit my Web-site, www.betterdayyoga.com, for details.

09
October

Third/Solar Plexus Chakra: (Sanskrit term: Manipura)

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Chakrascope ~ Your Vital Energy Centers
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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.


Image Credit:  http://gloriagypsy.deviantart.com/gallery/25522112#/d2rhgiq

Manipura means “Lustrous gem” in Sanskrit. That’s YOU and it extends the sentiments expressed in the opening section. Inside of you is a gem—be open to life and let it out. This chakra is about transformation—meaningful change—which ties into the opening yoga quote from
Special K ™.

This chakra is the home of your willpower and is connected to your right to act. It is related to the fire element. Do you believe you have the right to act? If you don’t then your inner fire needs stoking! Take the time right now to do something—anything—physical.

Just getting your lungs filled with fresh air will do wonders to creating space in your third chakra/solar plexus area. When you take deep breaths, filling the belly, then the middle ribs, then the upper chest, you are spreading the intercostals muscles between the ribs. This creates more space in the whole rib cage and increases your ability to take in more quality, fresh, rich, oxygen-filled prana. Prana is your life force energy. This chakra holds your life force. Using breathwork to harness the power of your breath gives you tremendous power at your solar plexus.

Whenever you are standing or sitting, remember to use good posture to give your solar plexus area more space for your inner fire to grow. Sitting up, standing tall, aligning your joints—shoulders over hips, ears over shoulders—are all ways to keep not only your spine healthy, but your solar plexus chakra healthy too. Don’t fall prey to “Text Neck”:

‘Text Neck’ is a world-wide health concern, affecting millions of all ages and from all walks of life. Widespread overuse of handheld mobile technology is resulting in a harmful and dangerous physical condition on the human body, which is known as Text Neck. Dr. Dean Fishman is a Chiropractor in Plantation Florida, and a leading health care provider for technology induced injuries. Dr. Fishman originated the phrase ‘Text Neck’  to explain the repeated stress injury to the body caused by excessive texting and overuse of all handheld electronic devices. The term, and the health condition, is derived from the onset of cervical spinal degeneration resulting from the repeated stress of frequent forward head flexion while looking down at the screens of mobile devices and ‘texting’ for long periods of time. While ‘Text Neck’ is certainly a new medical term, the condition is impacting millions and is a growing critical global concern.” http://text-neck.com/

The solar plexus area is where your “gut instinct” resides. Your gut will tell you what actions feel good, and what actions do not feel good. Do you listen to your gut? If you don’t believe you have the right to act, you are probably shutting off your gut instinct. When you don’t act upon the messages your inner awareness is communicating to you, you are basically stopping the messages from being sent. It is when you listen and do something with the messages that creates more where that came from.

If you aren’t listening and receiving your inner messages, and then acting upon what your inner knowing is telling you—you won’t know your purpose. You won’t know who you are because who you are lies within those messages. Turn them off and you’ve essentially turned yourself off. It then becomes a domino effect—when you turn yourself off you lose your self esteem. Don’t let your inner fire go out! Keep the fire burning.

Become aware of the voice inside telling you it’s time to act. Believe in your right to act, listen to your inner wisdom’s directions, and then follow your path. Your inner strength—your willpower/third chakra—provides support and guidance. You stoke your inner strength throughout your life. This power is like a muscle. Use it or lose it! It is the steadfastness of your willpower (your third chakra energy), the clarity of your intention, and the quality of your attitude that determines the nature of your passage.

Your willpower creates your transformations. You are the cause of your own reflection in the mirror. Do you feel empowered by that thought? You should be! Take some risks to develop your power. Even one small, intrepid step outside of your comfort zone will exhilarate you to do more. Keep on listening to your gut. You’ll know the next step to take, and the next, and the next.


Image Credit: http://catchingfireflies.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/04/25/cur04.jpg

Other ways to stimulate the fire element would be to surround yourself with the colors of fire:  yellows, reds, and orange. What a perfect season to do that with! Just peak outside your window for the bounty of autumn’s colors and let them sink in. You can also enjoy surrounding yourself with lighted candles, lanterns, tea lights, fireplaces, or wood stoves. Increase the light in your life to stimulate more light. Open the blinds!

Since the third chakra houses your digestive system. Being aware of what you are consuming is a must. Mindful eating is, in itself, a meditation. (Scroll down to the Meditation on the go section) Using spices, such as ginger, to aid digestion is an excellent addition to a healthy diet. Here are some other ayurvedic suggestions for enhancing digestive power from an excellent article I found on Yogi Times by Aparna Khanolkar:

“Follow these simple suggestions and you should enjoy good digestion.

1. Avoid drinking cold beverages with your meal. Stick to sipping small amounts of hot water with meals. This breaks down the oils and fats and keeps your agni well-lit.

2. Eat slowly. Digestion begins in your mouth. Chewing your food is important in breaking down the food that will be digested in the stomach later.

3. Sit down and eat. That does not mean in the car while driving. Sit peacefully and enjoy the meal in silence or with pleasant conversations. After you finish your meal, don’t rush to wash dishes. Sit and enjoy the feeling of a full belly.

4. If you have sluggish digestion, eat a thin sliver of fresh ginger with a pinch of salt. Do this just before a meal. This will get your digestive acids going.

5. Eat animal protein only during the day when your fire is stronger. For dinner have soup, steamed vegetables and herbal tea.

6. A small amount of ghee is good for your agni as well. Add a teaspoon of ghee on your rice or quinoa and enjoy its sweet taste and rich flavor.

7. Eat fruit alone. Avoid the standard breakfast of eggs, potatoes and a fruit cup. Take it home and eat it 2-3 hours later. Fruit digests very quickly and if you eat it with regular foods, it will fester in the stomach and cause digestive problems.

8. Stop snacking. Each meal takes at least three hours to digest. Eating in between meals will disrupt the digestive process of the previous meal.

9. Do not mix dairy with savory foods. Milk, cheese and other dairy products also digest differently than say vegetables and pasta.

10. Eat only when you are hungry. Do not eat when you are not hungry. This means find other ways to satiate yourself when life offers challenges. Food is for self-nurturance not a way to distract ourselves from what life offers us in the way of lessons.

The body has a magnificent mechanism for processing what we eat into energy. We can support this system with self-discipline and respect for this in-built bodily function. Eating is a great pleasure. Cooking is an act of self-nurturance. Remember the Ayurvedic wisdom: Without proper digestion, nectar can turn into poison. With proper digestion, poison can turn into nectar.”
Excerpt from Agni–enhancing digestive power article by Aparna Khanolkar.

If, on the other hand, you have too much fire in your system, you need to soothe your third chakra energy. Meditation, deep relaxing breaths extending the exhale, and learning to be still are all in order.

Only you know if you need to turn the heat up or down in your life. Listening to your inner wisdom is where it all starts. When you are in-tune with your third chakra, you use the power of your will to attain the results you want. Claim your power! Claim your right to act!

“The Cleansing Affirmation

I release with strength and will,

Anything that isn’t forwarding me…

Toward my highest place of joy.

I welcome warmly into my heart,

And passionately embrace

All the goodness,

That is meant for me in this life.

I am a valued member of this universe.

It is my right to thrive, prosper and rejoice,

It is my right to enjoy the result of my work,

It is my right to stand for success.

I am exactly who I want to be,

Starting right now.”

Source: The Healing Handbook, A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation ~ Jodi Levy

 “Your solar-plexus energy centre is the source of your imagination, your vision of the future and your desire for action.” ~ Swami Saradananda

 

Breathwork:

Uddiyana Bandha
is an important practice for the Manipura chakra. The belly lock held throughout class is different than the practice of Uddhyana Bandha described here: Stand with your feet a little more than hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and rest your hands on your thighs. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale forcefully through your mouth. When your lungs are completely empty, draw your diaphragm up toward your throat while holding your breath. Hold for as long as you feel comfortable and take a deep breath.

Contraindications for breath hold: hypertension, glaucoma, sinus/head infection, pregnancy, asthma, cardiac/circulatory, and anxiety disorders.


Affirmations
:

  • I use the power of my will to receive the results I want
  • I can succeed. All that is available to anyone is available to me. I am successful. I do succeed. Because I am full of the power of success.
  • I am the cause of this reflection. I am in control of what I see. The world is a reflection of what is inside of me. I create my reality.
  • I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, and happy!
  • I deeply love and approve of who I am.
  • I am worthy of my own-self-love.
  • I love and respect myself at all times.
  • I trust in love.
  • I trust my worthiness.
  • I am worth my weight in gold.
  • There are no failures. I learn from everything I do.
  • I believe that everything is for my highest good and greatest joy.
  • I love life.
  • I listen to and trust my deepest insights.
  • I am worthy of the very best in life.

 

Sources:

Diet and Manipura Chakra: 

In addition to using ginger for digestion, as recommended earlier, turmeric, cumin, fennel, black pepper, cayenne, cloves and peppermint are also excellent to add to your arsenal. Whole grains such as quinoa and millet are excellent, gluten-free choices with a low glycemic index.

  • Whole Grains. Whole grains are minimally processed grains that are closer to their natural form than processed grains, and therefore have a low glycemic index (GI), a ranking of carbohydrate foods on the basis of how rapidly they affect blood sugar (glucose). This is important because eating a lot of foods that are high on the GI will produce spikes in blood sugar that can lead, over time, to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood fats, an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Barley, quinoa, millet, wheat berries and kasha are good choices, as they provide important nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and, especially, carbohydrates that are low on the GI.
  • Spices. Turmeric and ginger are two winners for brain health as you age: Research suggests that turmeric, the major ingredient in American mustard and Indian curry, can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This may help explain the unusually low incidence of Alzheimer’s in India, where people consume significant amounts of turmeric every day. Use this culinary spice to give a healthy sharp flavor to your favorite eastern cuisine. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that has also been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. You can add ginger to your diet by eating crystallized ginger or the pickled ginger that comes with sushi, and use ginger when cooking.” http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/TIP04591/7-Foods-for-Aging-Gracefully.html

 

Aromatherapy and Manipura Chakra:

Young Living Essential Oils™ for the Manipura Chakra : Solar Plexus Chakra (Spleen) / “I CAN” /
Element: FIRE

As this chakra has to do with your gut instinct, power and control,
oils that will help to balance and open this chakra are Juniper,
Surrender, Release, Sacred Mountain, and Dream Catcher.  Rub one drop
in clockwise direction on stomach (upper abdomen), rub hands together
and inhale 3x.

Also try: chamomile, bergamot, fennel, and peppermint.

http://www.younglivingsuccess.com/2010/05/-chakras-and-therapeutic-essential-oils.html

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.

Gem therapy and the Manipura Chakra: 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 Manipura Chakra gems are:  Aventurine Quartz, Yellow Citrine, Amber, Gold Topaz, Fire Opal. Green Jade, among others.

If gem therapy interests you, you can find a great selection at www.crystallinelight.com 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)!

Yoga poses for the Manipura Chakra: All yoga poses essentially activate the chakras. Some yoga poses to stimulate the Manipura chakra include: rotated triangle, spinal twists, plant pose, locust pose (highlighted above), and belly rolls, Uddhyana Bandha, among others.

08
October

Hasta Mudra #3 –Energizing & Calming

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Hand Mudra
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Mudra means “seal” in Sanskrit.  It’s 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 use—not 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 we’re arguing, when we’re 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.

A great video about mudras:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7-iXzMdfIs&feature=player_embedded#at=147

I participated in another excellent YogaFit® training this past weekend called Yoga for Mental Health as part of my continuing education toward a 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification. It was an amazing class! Below, I used the mudras outlined in a recommended book by Amy Weintraub, Yoga Skills For Therapists, Effective Practices for Mood Management. Great book! Excellent class!

Hasta Mudra #3 –Energizing

How to do it:

  • Sit straight and tall. Interlace the middle fingers in front of the solar plexus with the other fingers gently curled. Pull the fingers apart with moderate pressure while inhaling and release the pressure slightly on the exhalation. Hands are in front of the solar plexus with the forearms parallel to the earth. 

Hasta Mudra #3 –Calming

How to do it:

  • Gently press together the tips or pads of the middle fingers in front of the solar plexus until you sense the best energetic connection. The other fingers may be gently curled in or extended out. 

Source:  Yoga Skills for Therapists, Effective Practices for Mood Management, ~ Amy Weintraub
(Google: LifeForce Yoga Power Point Handout – Yoga for Depression for a great PDF)
http://yougoyoga.net/mudra.html

07
October

Yoga Aids in Recovery from Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Healthy News
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“Colin Farrell, a 36-year old actor, recently went public about his love for yoga and how it has helped him to recover from drug and alcohol addiction.

Farrell is not the only person who has turned to yoga as a means to recovery. In fact, some addiction treatment programs use the practice of yoga as a tool to aid in recovery.

The good news is that those who are in bondage to addictions have the ability to recover if they have the desire to do so. This article will focus on how the use of yoga can aid in the journey to recovery.

History of yoga for addiction treatment

Even though yoga has been used to improve mental and physical health for over 5,000 years, it has only made its way into drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs in the last 10-years.

Five ways yoga helps those in recovery

-Impulse control

Yoga promotes impulse control, attentiveness and concentration. This is important because many people who use drugs and alcohol feel a compulsion to follow through with their cravings to use. In addition, they are more likely than others to allow their thoughts and emotions rule them and how they react to life.

-Deep breathing

Coping skills are needed for those seeking recovery, and yoga helps by teaching deep breathing that is a useful tool.

-Inner peace

The practice of yoga offers both a mind and body experience at the same time unlike regular cardiovascular exercise or talk therapy which only offer one or the other. Yoga poses (asanas) mixed with deep breathing can bring about inner harmony.

-Cleansing of the body

Many yoga poses can aid in detoxifying and cleansing the body of toxins that have built up due to drug and alcohol use. For example, half lord of the fishes pose stimulates the liver and kidneys. The supported headstand stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, which aids in helping the body rid itself of toxins more effectively.

-Connection with a higher power

Yoga incorporates meditation which can help one connect with their higher power, such as God. Prayer and meditation both help one to feel closer to their higher power. During mediation, you can softly close your eyes and create your own place of safety and tranquility. It can be the beach, mountains or wherever you feel most at ease. Conversation with your higher power and giving your worries over to the God of your understanding are both powerful tools that can be incorporated into your chosen place.”

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/yoga-aids-recovery-drug-alcohol-addiction-164500550–spt.html

06
October

Caramelized Apples—Side dish, dessert, or breakfast?

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Delicious Recipes À la Christine
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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!

Fall is a great time of the year to enjoy the bounty of nature. One of nature’s best gifts this season is apples. If you can, try to get to an apple orchard and pick your own apples. Or you can always buy local apples in the grocery store. Here in Minnesota my favorite this time of year is our own Honey Crisp apples.

This recipe is very versatile. You can serve as a side dish with pork or chicken, you can serve as a dessert over ice cream or use in the morning mixed with yogurt or oatmeal.

Caramelized Apples

4 apples
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp lemon zest

Peel, core, and slice apples into 1/2 inch slices.
Melt butter in sauté pan. Sprinkle sugar on top. Let Caramelize for 1 minute.
Add apple slices, cinnamon and lemon zest. Stir in pan.
Let apples cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring frequently until they start to soften but are still a bit crisp. Remove from heat.

05
October

Pachelbel in the Garden

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Featured Yoga Music/DVD
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This absolutely mesmerizing CD was gifted to me by one of my yoga students. I feel like she’s giving me a hug whenever I listen to it. If you love the sweet healing sounds of a babbling brook, you’ll love this CD. The “Solitudes” collection has always been one of my favorite sources of peace and serenity. Listen to the music clips and you’ll know why.

Product Description: Johann Pachelbel’s sublime Canon is merged seamlessly with the warm sounds of nature, treating listeners to an afternoon amidst the splendor of the garden. Instrumentation includes violins, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, oboe, guitar, harp, piano & voices.

You can hear the full CD during one of my yoga classes, or purchase it for your own listening pleasure at: http://www.amazon.com/Pachelbel-Garden-Dan-Gibsons-Solitudes/dp/B00008L3VR or http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Gibson-Solitudes/e/B000AQ0OIM/ref=ac_dpt_sa_nc_link

04
October

Better Day Yoga Online class availability coming soon!

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magical Events at Better Day Yoga LLC
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  • Online class availability coming soon!

Many of you have asked if I’d consider making my yoga classes available on a DVD to create your own home practice and have accessibility to your perfect time to do yoga. I am currently working on recording my weekly classes and hope to have them available before the end of the year. I’m still working out many of the details!

**If you would like to receive information on this option, please email me back and answer the following questions:

 

1. Do you prefer video or audio only?

2. What length class do you prefer?
a. 30 minutes
b. 45 minutes or
c. 1 hour

3. Do you prefer online access or DVD?

4. Do you prefer single viewing purchase or package purchase at a discounted rate from single purchase? Thank you!

  • Private Residence Class—new option available per your request!

Want to have your own private group class in the metro area? Let’s discuss! Tailor your class to fit your needs: Beginner, Intermediate, Mixed-Level—you choose! Pre-paid per session. Six session minimum program. Three-person minimum required in attendance for each session to hold. See Rates here.

  • Private Consultations

Want to have me work one-on-one with you on correct alignment?  Maybe you have questions you want to ask but can’t during class time?  A private physical assessment will help me to recommend particular yoga poses for your body, and perhaps other lifestyle enhancements that might help you, after we discuss your questions and history. Feel better about your practice! Schedule a private consultation!  See rates here!

“Your solar-plexus energy centre is the source of your imagination, your vision of the future and your desire for action.” ~ Swami Saradananda